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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

A new following for a timeless craft

Friday, December 21, 2012

Keep toasty this winter with locally-made cold weather gear.

Dick Bennett, Rembrandt Leather, is now selling his sheepskin creations at the Sugar Bowl in Storm Lake and Farm and Home in Pocahontas. Fleecy favorites for sale include slippers, hats and mittens.

"Some people think it's for Christmas only, but it reflects with the season," Bennett said. "The colder it gets, the more the stuff I make makes sense."

Outdoor workers, such as farmers or mechanics, will enjoy Bennett's handmade hats and mittens as temperatures drop, and feet will stay cozy in his slippers, which run from infant to "extremely big." Custom orders are available for wide feet or special needs, such as diabetes or poor circulation.

During his first Miracle on Lake Avenue demonstration earlier this month, Bennett garnered several young admirers.

"A wonderful little girl in seventh grade asked if I would teach her how to sew," he explained. "Her mom came up and told me she was getting a sewing machine for Christmas."

The pre-teen carefully watched Bennett for 45 minutes, and later helped out with layout work.

Bennett, who hand-sewed his own Halloween costume as a kindergartener, said he loves seeing a younger generation who is interested in his work.

"It's exciting, finding that kids are fired up about what I do," he said. "That little girl could be a fashion designer one day."

Another eager observer, a boy from Early who saw the "Mountain Man" during a school presentation on pioneers, may later provide a helping hand during project work at Bennett's workshop in Marathon.

The response during Miracle on Lake Avenue was "overwhelming," Bennett said.

"The ladies at the Sugar Bowl were just fantastic with the concept of me coming in, and were generous with space and time," he said. "With a huge bunch of people there to see the event, it was a great way to liven up Main Street."

In addition to his popular cold weather line, Bennett also continues to produce period clothing for live historical re-creation events. As a member of the Florida Frontiersmen, he plans to attend the "Superbowl of living history events" in January - the Alafia River Rendezvous.

Nearly 7,000 people camp out for the pre-1840s early America event, which features over 1,200 participants portraying different regions of the country, and over 100 craftsmen demonstrating and selling historical reproduction items.

While in Florida, he plans to pick fresh fruit for another hobby---wine making This year, he produced 400 bottles, including a cranberry variety he is very pleased with, but is still working on establishing a winery.

Before receiving a state permit for public sales, he plans to put up a new building to house the winery.

Bennett welcomes calls at 712-870-1467 for special orders.

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