HOLIDAY ART MARKET COMES TO LELAND CULTURAL ARTS CENTER
VENDOR SPOTLIGHT: Leonard & Eleanor Baptiste, Owners, LEO
If you are looking for artistic Christmas gifts this year, look no further than the Holiday Art Market. This one-day, free event will be held at the Leland Cultural Arts Center (LCAC), 1212 Magnolia Village Way. The Art Market, which started in 2017, brings craftspeople of all genres together to share their artistic talent with our community.
Two of those craftspeople are Leonard and Eleanor Baptiste, owners of LEO (Leonard Eleanor Originals), and makers of California red cedar bluebird houses and other woodworking gifts. Leonard is the builder and Eleanor is the artist who applies whimsical decorations to make their items special.
“Our introduction to the Holiday Art Market came courtesy of Carol Mickel, a vendor who had joined in the festivities the year prior. Carol, the talented owner of Welcome Home Wreaths, is known for crafting beautiful wreaths for all occasions. She encouraged us to add our ‘pandemic hobby’ to the work of the growing body of artists in the area,” Leonard said.
It wasn’t just the pandemic that got Leonard and Eleanor involved in their craft. “It was also a passion for birdwatching and a heavy heart for the dwindling bluebird population that made us decide to make bluebird houses,” Leonard said.
Growth and development are a good thing for many, but for birds, it can create major problems. There are the loss of trees and nesting areas and predators that lose natural food sources. Among them are snakes, raccoons, squirrels, and even larger birds. Conservation efforts are helping the bluebirds thrive again.
One of the things that Leonard does in his birdhouse design is use wood screws to make the house stay structurally strong for a longer period of time. He also puts an extra door on the front over the opening. This guards against the predators that are looking for bluebird eggs. And, as Leonard said, “While not all birds seek a house to build their nest, cedar is the best wood when making a birdhouse. It will last for years, has a pleasant smell, and will not rot. Just remember, stay away from treated lumber as it is toxic to birds.” The birdhouses also feature drainage holes on the bottom of the structure to protect the young.
Bluebirds have a large cultural significance in this area. They protect crops from insects, helping ensure a viable food source for people. In the past, farmers planted bluebird boxes around their fields to attract the bluebirds to feed on insects that can destroy crops.
“Our creative ideas flow equally, but Leonard's productivity shines as he works at a faster pace,” Eleanor said. “He plans, cuts and sands seven birdhouses each week. Through his assembly-style production, this averages out to one birdhouse each day. Leonard maximizes every inch of the cedar board. In his workshop, every scrap finds a purpose, giving rise to cedar rounds that you can tuck away with your sweaters to fend off moths.”
Leonard continued, “In our retirement, Leonard Eleanor Originals, or simply LEO for short, has become our source of purpose and joy. Each birdhouse we create is a unique, handcrafted endeavor that brings us immense fulfillment.”
Leonard and Eleanor are very excited to be at the Art Market again this year. “The staff at the Leland Cultural Arts Center is incredibly friendly and accommodating to the needs of all vendors. Customers benefit from a wide variety of items to choose from, and best of all, there's no entry fee to shop,” Leonard said.
If you want to view the beautiful craftsman ship and design from this very artistic team, visit www.etsy.com/shop/shopLEO
Better yet, go to the Holiday Art Market on Dec. 2 at the Leland Cultural Arts Center and stop by their booth. They will be happy to see you and you will come away with beautiful Christmas gifts that will have customers very glad they shopped local!
Doors open at 10 am, showcasing a variety of woodworking items, ceramics, wreaths, ornaments, seasonal decorations, and Christmas merriment!