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CRAFTSWOMAN BUSY, HAPPY : CERAMIC GIFTS A JOY TO CREATE FOR ACTIVE, TALENTED ARTISAN.

Byline: BETTIE RENCORET

PALMDALE - Creating gifts for grown-ups keeps Carol Smith busy in the weeks before Christmas and she loves every minute of it. She paints bisque and plaster Santas of all styles and nationalities for relatives and friends.

She works with already molded forms and prefers the bisque - ceramic ware that has been fired once but left unglazed.

``All of my angels are bisque,'' she said. ``I work with whiteware as opposed to greenware, which in the end has to be fired. With whiteware, sealant is all that is necessary.''

Her husband of 39 years, Merle, helps.

``All of the statues have to be sandpapered or filed to a satin-smooth finish before I start painting, or the colors will streak,'' she said.

Although semiretired, she still holds down a job a few days a week in North Hollywood and she doesn't mind the commute one bit.

By teaching in a statuary store down there she is able to pass on her expertise as an artisan and that gives her great personal satisfaction.

While the focus of her artistry at this time of year is on Santas, elves, snowmen and angels, her classes do not end when the year does. They go on to encompass all kinds of figurines as well as other crafts.

Since coming to California from Sterling, Ill., in 1966, Smith has been in love with the Southwest Indian motif, which she saw rising as a decorating medium.

A lot of her general fare reflects the cactus colors of pueblo art and stresses the dark skin and hair tones to go along with the desert style.

She also does cloisonne paintings of Indian dancers and other subjects, as well as colorful landscapes and flowers.

Justifiably proud of her accomplishments, she will, if pressed, admit to having taken several first- and second-place trophies for her displays in craft shows throughout Southern California.

Smith was born March 8, 1934, in Foulton, Ill., but was raised in Sterling, where she met and married Merle on May 26, 1957.

They both went through high school in Sterling and Merle had a year at the University of DeKalb.

They left Illinois and came west to Albuquerque, then moved to Orange County, then to El Centro, back to Orange County and finally to the San Fernando Valley.

In 1987, they left Sepulveda and migrated to their present home in Palmdale.

Merle, a stationary engineer (someone who keeps huge boilers and other large equipment in good repair), retired in 1995 from Mission Linen Supply.

Carol spent 20 years as a bookkeeper for various businesses before coming here and getting involved in grocery store food demonstration with KDS Marketing.

For several years she supervised and had full charge of the demonstrators, whom she was also responsible for hiring and guiding. Her territory ranged from Ridgecrest to Santa Clarita.

``That got to be too much,'' she said. ``It was a part-time job that was 24-hours-a-day long.''

The Smiths have a daughter, son-in-law and two grandsons living in Palmdale who will join them next year for a trip back to Sterling to visit Merle's aging parents and join a big family reunion.

When they get back she will resume her classes. She feels that when she works with her statuary, she is contributing to her own sense of well-being.

``There's such a lot of pleasure and satisfaction to it that I create not only a gift but peace of mind,'' she said.

Carol patted a 16-inch-high Santa still sporting its antiqued base-coat and sighed.

``When I'm doing this, I don't think about (negative) things. I just think about how happy this Santa is going to make somebody this Christmas. I love doing that.''

PALMDALE - Craft classes for seniors 55 or older are being taught from 2 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays in the Courson Park pool building, 38226 10th St. E., according to Eric Jensen, Palmdale Senior Center site manager.

Under the sponsorship of the Palmdale Parks and Recreation Department, instructions in all types of crafts are available for a small donation to cover the cost of supplies.

For further information, call the center at (805) 267-5551.

LANCASTER - Menus for the week at the senior life nutrition sites in Lancaster, Palmdale and Pearblossom have been announced. All meals include bread, margarine and coffee, tea or milk.

Monday: Chicken patty, oven-browned potatoes, vegetable medley, peach slices and ice cream.

Tuesday: Roast beef, mashed potatoes, green beans amandine, ambrosia salad and pie.

Wednesday: Closed. Christmas Day.

Thursday: Turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, tossed salad and cake.

Friday: Pork chop, au gratin potatoes, spinach, coleslaw and applesauce.
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 22, 1996
Words:766
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