STONINGTON — Beth-Ann Stewart, executive director of the Stonington Community Center, calls artist Bonnie Mack a “powerhouse.” Every little girl who sees Mack’s work will likely agree.
Mack, who is running the silent auction at this year’s 62nd annual Village Fair on Aug. 2, has created two charming dollhouses to sell at auction. They’re filled with tiny details and objects for 18-inch figures, such as American Girl dolls.
Her inspiration for the project was her grandchildren, particularly her granddaughters.
“I have 13 grandchildren at the moment,” she said proudly.
The larger of the two houses, decorated in a shabby chic style, has two floors plus an attic, and stands about 5 feet, 6 inches off the ground. Mack created not just furniture but knick knacks, linens, working lights, and even a tiny piece of soap in the bathtub made from polymer clay. Mack recycled mundane items into furniture, such as jewelry boxes that were turned into nightstands and a candle stick that became a table pedestal. The attic, tucked under the cedar-shingled roof, contains doll-sized storage chests spilling over with tiny stuffed animals.
“I never get tired of looking at it, because there’s always something new that I notice,” Stewart said.
The smaller dollhouse is a kitchen that includes a table set with tea and cakes, an outdoor area with a swing made by Mack, and a picnic that includes tiny faux marshmallows on skewers over a toy grill.
“I just kept collecting and finding little pieces,” Mack said,
Mack, a self-taught artist originally from California, started painting when she was very young.
“I love to paint. I love to create,” she said.
Traveling with her grandfather, George K. Morrison Sr., and his arrowhead collection introduced Mack to Native American culture and pottery, which she loves.
At one point, the Stonington resident had a gallery, Mack Gallery and Pottery, in Westerly’s Mill Pond Plaza. Up until nine years ago, she taught beginning pottery there.
“My favorite is hand-built pottery,” she said, adding that she has a line of old world pottery that she creates for private collectors.
There have been a lot of donations to the center for the various sales to be held at the fair, including antique and used items from the community. When someone donated some old bicycles, Stewart knew what to do with them.
“All you have to do is give Bonnie a call,” she said.
Mack painted the bikes, added flowers, and hung signs advertising the Aug. 2 fair. One is located on Route 1 in Pawcatuck, and the other is in front of Grand & Water Antiques on Water Street in the borough. Mack is working on a third.
“People are enjoying the bikes,” said Stewart. “It’s really generating interest.”
Mack is one of over 100 volunteers that help with the Village Fair, a popular fundraiser for the center since 1952. Held on Wadawanuck Square in Stonington Borough, it includes the silent auction, which will be held under a big tent on the lawn by the Stonington Free Library on High Street. There is also a used book sale, the pottery tent, around 40 artisan booths, children’s rides and games, a food tent, and live music. There will also be the popular Soup Kitchen, which will soups donated by local restaurants, and Trifles and Treasures, which is items from the center’s thrift store. The silent auction also includes two Adirondack chairs, one painted by Mack and the other by artist Millie Donovan, and a child-sized Adirondack chair painted by Stewart in a caterpillar theme that comes with the Eric Carle book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” Joe Trelli, a member of he center’s staff, built two corn-hole toss games that will be included in the auction. Stewart described a corn-hole toss game as similar to a bean-bag toss.
“It is a huge fundraiser for us,” said Stewart.
Mack, who also has a knack for floral arranging, will be making floral arrangements for the silent auction tent that will be available for purchase.
All of the items at the auction will have a buy-it-now price that will supersede the bidding.
The prices for the doll houses are $1,500 for the small one, and $3,000 for the large one. Anyone who wants to start the bidding early can begin on the center’s website, thecomo.org, for the two dollhouses and a Victorian-style antique couch that has a buy-it-now price of $750.
The Aug. 2 Village Fair will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bidding for the silent auction begins at 11 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m.