Christmas Boutique welcomes holiday spirit

News photo by Emily Thiel Jacob Millman, 9, Exeter, checks out the whirligigs made by crafter Ben Keppel at the Christmas Boutique at St. Catherine of Siena, Exeter Township
News photo by Emily Thiel Anna and John Alan Boyer, Oley, Norma Goddard, Exeter and Karen Zuczek, Exeter, at the Christmas Boutique at St. Catherine of Siena, Exeter Township.

St. Catharine of Siena Christmas Boutique drew a bustling crowd of people with their show of holiday gifts and unique crafts.

The annual craft sale was held at the Exeter Township church Nov. 23, and featured 44 local craftsmen from around the area. Fred Lebeduik and his wife, Kathy, run the Christmas Boutique together.

“This is the ninth year we’re running it,” Fred Lebeduik said.

The holiday spirit was in the air with crafters and cookies.


Lebeduik said it is a priority that each crafter is different.

“We have four jewelry vendors, but they are all different.”

The parishioners of St. Catharine’s donated baked items to make what Lebeduik claims is “the largest bake sale in the area.”

Church member Diane Sitler runs the bake sale; Last year, the bake sale raised over $3,000 in one day.

The boutique had something for everyone.

Santa Claus was available in the Children’s Christmas Shopping Village for photo opportunities with the kids and to take Christmas list An Amish handmade quilt was on display for raffle.

Al Huffman, Douglassville, was one of the featured crafters at the event. Huffman said he has been working as a woodcrafter practically his whole life. He started when he was a young boy. When he was just five or six years old, Huffman spent time in Canada observing his grandfather woodcraft in a log cabin. Huffman now specializes in working with walnut and cherry woods to build fine woodcrafts and furniture.

Huffman has a special interest in building replicas of chairs from the Civil War era. To date, he has handcrafted six Civil War chairs. It takes Huffman around 25 hours of labor to build one chair. Huffman also crafts unisex wooden ties of a unique style which are popularly worn in Southern Germany and Switzerland.

James Getz, Exeter Township, is another crafter whose work was on display at the boutique. The woodturner is part of the Berks Guild of Crafters which recognize his high-quality craftmanship and design in his work. Getz uses original wood from the Philadelphia Water Works to create lamps which he turns with handcrafted tools. The wood dates back to the 1800s. Getz started woodturning in 1998, and has been participating in craft shows for the past 14 years.

Rachel Kostival, 12, Reading, demonstrated how to create hand-blown eggs.

“My mom taught me how to do it,” Kostival said, while painting the exterior eggshell. Kostival learned the trade through her mom, and has been practicing since she was five-years-old.

“It’s relaxing to me.” Kostival said her dad drills a small hole in the top of eggshell, to blow out the yoke.

It takes three hours to make one egg through a process of wax, color, and varnish. On display were not only painted chicken eggs, but also ostrich eggs, which the Kostivals specially order.

Another featured crafter was Amy Cole, Exeter Township. Cole first learned how to work with clay when she was in college. “I took a class, and then I taught the class,” she said about her start. Eventually, she bought her own wheel and, together with friends, she purchased a kiln. “My house is overflowing with pottery,” she said about why she started doing craft shows.

Cole “like[s] working with clay” because it is a natural medium produced by the earth. Bowls and jars are Cole’s favorites to create. “It’s a good hobby. It’s fun.” All of Cole’s pieces glazed, lead-free, dishwasher and microwavable safe.

Ben Keppel, Exeter Township, featured his handcrafted birdhouses at the craft show. His birdhouse designs are intricate; some can house up to five different families of birds.

The houses make a great environment for the birds and are meant to survive the outside weather conditions. The birdhouses are sealed on the inside and painted on the outside with exterior paint. The houses are made of wood and plastic, and come apart of cleaning purposes. Keppel also handcrafts whirligigs.

TheSt. Catharine of Siena Christmas Boutique crafters brought their own holiday flair to the show and holiday spirit to the area.

About the Author

Emily Thiel

Emily Thiel is the editor of The Southern Berks News and is the Community Engagement Editor for Berks-Mont Newspapers. Emily joined Berks-Mont in March 2013. She graduated from Kutztown University in 2011 with a degree in English with a concentration in Cultural and Media Studies. Emily is a native of Allentown, Pa. Reach the author at or follow Emily on Twitter: @sthrnberksnews.