MANCHESTER — More than 20 jewelers, painters, sculptors, weavers and other craftswomen sold their wares Saturday on the grounds of Longfellow’s Greenhouses to help support a local organization that assists people affected by sexual violence.

The juried art and craft fair was the ninth annual fair at the Manchester greenhouse hosted by Designing Women, a nonprofit organization of female artisans from New England. At each of the group’s art and craft fairs, the suggested donations and proceeds from food and drinks go to a local nonprofit organization that helps women and families.

At the fair in Manchester, the Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Center raised money to support its program and services, which include a 24-hour support line and other support services, educational outreach programs for schools, a children’s advocacy center and a sexual assault response team. The organization, located in Winthrop, serves Kennebec and Somerset counties.

Typically the organization brings in $1,000 to $1,200 at the fair, said Dot Randall, a board member and the group’s fundraising chairwoman. Besides raising money, the main aim of taking part in the art and craft fair is to let people know about the organization and the services it provides, she said.

“It’s amazing how many people come up and say, ‘Oh my word. We didn’t even know that there was such a place,'” Randall said. “And it’s important for people to know there is a place they can call. There is the 24-hour hotline.”

At Saturday’s art and craft fair, the vendors were a mix of artisans who do the work as full-time job and others who have separate careers, said Mary Kay Spencer, one of the show’s organizers. Spencer operates a pottery studio, The Potter’s House, in Litchfield.

One of the artisans, Laurie LaBar, does silversmithing and makes jewelry focused around stones. LaBar, who lives in Richmond and works at the Maine State Museum in Augusta as a curator, said she’s been silversmithing for more than 20 years and sometimes incorporates stones cut by her brother, who is a lapidary.

She also uses precious metal clay to make some of her pieces, including a dragonfly necklace she was wearing. The metal clay she uses is made up of microscopic particles of fine silver and an organic binder that allows it to be shaped like clay and then fired in a kiln to create a piece of silver, LaBar said.

Another local artisan, Beth Whalon, has been making natural soaps for more than 25 years. Whalon, of Litchfield, said she uses essential oils from plants as part of her soap formula, which she developed over about eight years, with the help of her chemistry background.

Whalon, who is a biochemistry laboratory instructor at Bates College in Lewiston, said some people didn’t know what to make of her soaps when she started selling them in 1997.

She said people didn’t understand why the handmade natural soaps were more expensive than basic bars of soap available in stores.

“When I started making these soaps, people had no idea what to do with them,” Whalon said. “I had to sell the soap.”

At the time she started her business, Moonshadow Farm, the movement of buying local and organic products was just starting, she said. Whalon said she thinks consumer attitudes began to shift around eight to 10 years ago.

“Now they know it’s good for you, so it sells itself,” she said of her soaps.

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