Farmers Market Loses an Artisian

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Peggy Kaufmans fanciful recycled light bulb ornaments and her bead jewelry will be for sale as usual at the Old Town Farmers Market on November 1. Sadly, for the first time in many years, Peggy will not be there. She died on October 9 at the age of 62 after a long battle with multiple myeloma. She will be missed.

Ray Howells, the Alexandria Farmers Market Manager, remembers Peggy. I was inspired by her charm, she was an awesome lady. We hit it off right away and she always had a hug for me. Even when she was ill she always thought of others. I truly miss her.

It was sometime in 2001 or 2002 when Peggy got an acceptance letter from the Farmers Market saying that her application, submitted in 1993, was approved and that she could set up her booth at the next market. Good friend Louise Marlowe remembers Peggys surprise that she was accepted in the jewelry category. She had no jewelry, she wasnt making jewelry, but by the following Saturday she had bought supplies, learned how to bead, and showed up with stock to sell.

Friends say that this incident is quintessential Peggy. As people got to know her better they learned that she was an innovator. She did not start out as an artist; her formal training was as a special education teacher. In the late 60s she joined the Peace Corps and served in Malaysia as an advisor on math and science. During a visit to Indonesia she discovered a passion for batik and her art career was born.

After moving to New York City, Peggy continued to work on her art while she tutored child actors, painted theatrical stage sets and sold gourmet food. In 1993 she opened her wholesale business, Digital Prism, with the introduction of her millefiori ornaments and later the recycled light bulbs. Her work has been sold in more than 200 shops nationwide and featured with the Museum Company and the American Craft Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago.

The light bulbs started as a result of Kaufmans ability to see the hidden possibilities of discarded items. She saw art where others saw trash. Friends contributed to her mania and many mornings she would find little bags of light bulbs left on her porch. Until the end she was making plans for the future and was working on thousands of painted bulbs for the upcoming holiday season. In the works were an all-animal theme project and full paintings on some gigantic bulbs that she had discovered.

As her illness progressed, the medication she was taking made her hands shake, but whenever she could she would bead, and during her months of remission she produced like crazy, said Marlowe. Peggy stayed at my house after her illness because her house was all studio. We became dear friends.

Charlotte Corcoran, fellow Del Ray Artisans member to Peggy, remembers her. She created with passion and had a brain that always was working overtime. She found both funky wonder and fragile beauty in most of what her ever-inquiring eyes took in. And they didnt miss much. Peggy was a dear friend and a creative force, whose whirling dervish of a spirit endures, and whose wish was always that we honor the earth, a planet worth keeping.

If you would like to see Peggys work, a selection will be on sale at the Old Town Farmers Market on November 1. Her work will also be featured at the Del Ray Artisans Bead it! 3 Marketplace in November and at the December Holiday Market on December 7.

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