Looking for something to do on those bitter cold winter days? Look no further. The Branson Mill Craft Village will alleviate the monotonous boredom that often comes when a good portion of Branson entertainment shuts down for the season.
Cindy Canfield, who was previously an art teacher in the Hollister School District, spends much of her time weaving textiles as one of more than 12 demonstrating craftsmen in the Branson Mill Craft Village.
“From the time I could breathe, I had to create,” she said. “My dad was an expert carpenter and my mom was an upholsterer, so both parents would throw me scraps and I would make creations from the time I could remember.”
Canfield said she prefers weaving to other art forms because her creations will be practically useful, rather than just for decorative purposes.
“I make one-of-a-kinds, so it’s very important to me that the people who receive the things I make understand what has gone into it,” she said. “I honed in on fiber art, rather than painting, because I love the colors, textures and choices every single time I put something together. And I particularly enjoy seeing someone else put my creations to good use.
“It’s mind-boggling that the process (of weaving) was created more than 2,000 years ago, and with a few minor adjustments, we’ve brought it into this century.”
The majority of Canfield’s weaving goes for about $1 per inch, but the price varies depending on materials used. Oftentimes, she uses repurposed fabric.
“A man wanted me to make a bedspread using old jeans that once belonged to his family members,” she said.
Canfield knew a bedspread would be too heavy, so she instead made him a 40-inch by 10-foot floor runner rug using 40 pairs of jeans. She then gave the jean scraps to other crafters in the Branson Mill Craft Village, completing the recycling of materials.
May will mark Canfield’s third year selling her handmade products out of a booth at Branson Mill Craft Village.
“I really love this space and plan to stay as long as they’ll have me,” she said.
Canfield has participated in some outdoor craft festivals, but decided she and her creations weren’t cut out for the elements.
“Here at Branson Mill, there’s not a single drip on any of my things, the temperature is always perfect and I don’t have to worry about wind or dust,” she said.
Canfield plans to soon introduce a line of new yarns in her booth. She has a small collection of yarn, but in the next three weeks plans to have wall-to-ceiling yarn for sale, which will range from $2 to $10 per skein, on par with prices at nationwide yarn retailers.
Canfield said she had given up her life for other people’s children while teaching for 29 years.
“I think my family thought they were going to have me around more, and to their surprise, I found another passion,” she said. “They have been so supportive by making lots of sacrifices for me to get started.
“It’s not a cheap endeavor. For example, my loom was $8,500, and I just paid $900 for a portable loom that folds up to 18 inches.”
Visit her online store at CanfieldCreations.etsy.com.
Myranda Zimmerebner, general manager of Branson Mill Craft Village, said the building was born from an idea of an old-world craftsmanship building, kind of like what Silver Dollar City has.
“But they wanted it under one roof and climate-controlled, so that people could shop no matter what the weather was like,” she said. “They didn’t want to charge anything for people to come in and experience the crafting, so it’s free, unless you want to take something home to remember it by.”
Ladona Weathers, who is in charge of marketing for Branson Mill Craft Village, said the years of experience behind the artisans in the building is phenomenal.
“They have decades of experience creating these quality products,” she said. “I’ve been captivated by the fact that the Mill is an incubator for art and discovers all the great artisans in the area, because a lot of the products here are made by locals.”
There are unmanned booths, in addition to the demonstrating craftsmen, Zimmerebner said, which keeps the traffic flowing throughout.
“We have a variety of handmade, wholesale and fine art items,” she said. “It’s kind of a different feel than anything else you’ll experience in Branson, and it’s a one-stop-shop, from high-end to craftier items.”
Tuesdays through Saturdays are the best time to see crafters at work, she said.
“There’s probably more going on in here than a lot of places since the shows shut down for the winter,” she said. “Here we have entertainment and samples. And we even give out free coffee to locals on Tuesdays through the winter.”
Zimmerebner said Branson Mill plans to continually add new, unique products people haven’t seen before.