Offer The Unusual

Prime holiday buying time in Rim Country

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Unique writing pens crafted by Bud Huffman will be among the offerings at the Mazatzal Arts & Crafts Fair to be held Nov. 26-27.

Get ready to crack open that Christmas account. This weekend and next are some prime holiday buying times in the Rim Country.

First, the 14th Annual Gem & Mineral Show, presented by the Payson Rimstones Rock Club is Saturday, Nov. 19 and Sunday, Nov. 20 at the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino event center Bingo Hall. The weekend after Thanksgiving is the big Mazatzal Arts & Crafts Fair, Saturday, Nov. 26 and Sunday, Nov. 27, also taking place at the casino’s event center Bingo Hall.

There will be 17 vendors with sales tables at the Gem & Mineral Show, along with displays by five members of the organization and several demonstrations, including one on gold prospecting by the White Mountain Club of Gold Prospectors Association of America.

The vendors will be selling gems, minerals, fossils, jewelry, findings, books, lapidary and gold prospecting equipment, according to Margaret Jones, chair of this year’s show.

There will also be a special education area for children (and adults) featuring hands-on activities such as beading and sandstone painting. The group will again have its popular spinning wheel operating, where every spin gets the youngster participating a stone to take home. There will also be a silent auction.

Admission to the 14th Annual Gem & Mineral Show is $3 for adults, and children under 12 are admitted free. Discount tickets are available at the Rim Country Chamber of Commerce in Payson, the Payson Public Library, the Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism Office at Green Valley Park and the Forest Service Office on East Highway 260, Payson.

All of the show’s proceeds go toward supporting scholarships from the Payson Rimstones Rock Club for students at Payson High School and the Gila Community College Payson Campus, books and educational materials for the local schools and libraries.

“Last year we were able to give $3,000 in scholarships to the high school,” Jones said.

Call Jones at (928) 476-3513 or (928) 970-0857 with questions and for more information on the show.

The Payson Rimstones Rock Club is open to the public. Meetings are at 3:30 p.m., the second Wednesday of each month at the meeting room of the Payson Public Library.

The annual Mazatzal Arts & Crafts Fair will feature more than 50 vendors this year, with 90 percent coming from around the Rim Country to share their wares. This is the largest number of participants the show has had in its 14 years.

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Ed Vos photo

Barry and Margaret Jones of the Payson Rimstones Rock Club invite you to visit the annual Gem and Mineral Show this weekend.

The fair will feature pottery, which organizer Judy Chlupsa said is new this year, woodworking, baskets, cards, children’s items, fabric totes, purses, wood sleighs filled with gifts, jewelry of all kinds, tole painting, fine art, fabric art, photography, silver smithing, candlesticks, fabulous gourd art, wearables and more. 

There will be a variety of price points available — from ornaments for just $1 and jams and jellies for $5 or so. There will be something for everyone on those gift lists.

Shop in the comfortable Bingo Hall at the Mazatzal Casino from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 26 and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 27; admission is free.

One of the Rim Country participants is Bud Huffman of Payson, who makes unique writing pens, wine stoppers and more.

Huffman started making these unique pieces about six years ago after he saw a neighbor doing it.

“I told him it looked like very intricate work, but he explained it wasn’t hard to do at all.”

Huffman uses wood (such as Manzanita picked up around here, and exotics), acrylic and Corian® — yes, the DuPont countertop material (its usually scrap from Chitwood’s Country Oak Cabinets). He takes a piece of the material, cuts off what he needs, drills a hole into it to hold the pen “casing” and then shapes it on a lathe and gives it a high gloss finish by polishing it numerous times. His pens all have Cross workings.

Since learning to make pens, Huffman said he has taught about four or five others to do it, including one of his five brothers. While Huffman keeps his work available for $30 to $40, his brother went high-end, using gold and other precious materials.

Over the years he has made some “specialty” pens — several in green acrylic for organ donors after his mother died; and close to 100 for the Payson Supply Line to send to U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan in the “comfort boxes” they’ve been creating for almost 10 years.

The specialty pens for the Supply Line include patriotic and service colors and led to another unique offering. Huffman now makes special order pens featuring the campaign/service ribbon colors of acrylic.

He also makes military-oriented wine stoppers as well as other kinds, whistles and a tool to help with bracelets clasps.

“I enjoy making sawdust,” he jokes.

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Ed Vos photo

There will be 17 vendors with sales tables at the 14th annual Gem and Mineral Show Nov. 19-20 at the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino Bingo Hall.

Over the years he estimates he has probably made 400 to 500 pens.

“The stuff I have made that I think there is a mistake in is usually the first stuff to sell,” he said.

This is the fourth time he has participated in Chlupsa’s show at the casino.

“They are very nice people and everyone is a master at what they do. I am lucky to be the only one who makes pens.”

He and his wife have lived in Payson a little more than three years, moving here from California where he worked for the City of Anaheim Utilities.

The move was made because their daughter moved to Maricopa and his wife told him they needed to be closer, but he wasn’t willing to live in an oven. They looked for a place in both Prescott and Sedona and after visiting friends here, settled on Payson.

He is an Illinois native and served in the U.S. Marines for four years pounding a typewriter, plus a tour in Vietnam. Huffman is the veterans’ service officer for the Payson Elks Lodge and organized its special Veterans Day Dinner held Friday night and is also on the committee working to bring a Veterans Administration Clinic to the Rim Country.

The work he does in his 10-foot-by-12-foot shed, making his pens and the rest is his retreat … Because he likes to make sawdust.

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