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Local artists offer gift ideas at winter market, online and at Last Stop Gift Shop

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Christmas — and the smell of Embree’s Lace Cakes — was in the air Sunday at the Winter Art Market on Jackson Hill.

Brothers Josh and Chad Embree were behind the counter of their booth, frying up squiggles of batter and sprinkling the finished “cakes” with powdered sugar.

Their father, Randy Embree, who founded the festival cart business 42 years ago, was enjoying some warm fritters with his toddler granddaughter Lily Embree.

“She’ll be the third generation,” he said, smiling fondly as he watched Lily lick her fingers. “She specializes in the sugar right now.”

Nearby, Daniel Kandasammy stood in front of his display of red-nosed, ribbon-bedecked reindeer made of logs, holding a cardboard sign reading “Homeless Reindeer.” Penny Desmond and her mother-in-law, Mary Ann Desmond, quickly pooled their cash to come up with the $20.

“I figured I’d buy one anyway, and then he pulled out that sign,” Penny Desmond said with a laugh. “We’ll give it a good home.”

Musician Daniel E. Elliott strummed his guitar and sang softly, entertaining the crowd outside the Rome Civic Center from the stand where he was selling his CDs. Inside, shoppers thronged the booths offering handmade items ranging from pottery and bath soaps to beaded jewelry and woven scarves.

The annual winter market will likely be the last show of the year for most of the local artists, although a number said they’re keeping their eyes open for more sales opportunities.

Woodcarver Jerry Ables sends pieces to the Blue Ridge Mountain Art Association store in downtown Blue Ridge. Others, including jewelry designers Cynthia Ivery of Ivery Creations and Amy Crawford of Ginger Goat Gems, have Facebook pages where they connect with potential buyers.

“I just set up an Instagram, too,” said fiber artist Hillari Knight as she worked on a new needle felt soft-sculpture.

The Last Stop Gift Shop, in the caboose next to the Civic Center, also stocks wares by local artists.