December 12, 1977 12:00 PM

Jennifer McLeod, 26, is insulted if called a craftsman. She much prefers “artist.” McLeod has taught herself the ancient Indonesian method of handprinting textiles known as batik. First she sketches a design on a piece of cotton, silk, velvet or other natural fabric, then applies wax to those areas she doesn’t want dyed. This process is repeated as many as 26 times for a multicolored effect. Working out of a cramped, two-room apartment on Manhattan’s West Side, McLeod may spend several months on a single piece. Her subjects range from still lifes and animals to Greek mythology and nudes, and sell for $75 to $1,500. The finished product can be hung like a tapestry or stretched over custom-built light boxes, producing a stained-glass-panel effect. A self-taught artist, Jennifer was born and raised in Quebec, and as a teenager dabbled in pottery, macramé and leathercraft. She started doing batik in 1972 with melted crayons, progressing from T-shirts to wall hangings. Though McLeod has been making her living from batik for only a year, she already is eager to diversify into theater design, using backlighting to illuminate the stage. Meanwhile, she sets a very high standard for her work. “I have thrown away many pieces,” McLeod says. “Then my agent takes them out of the garbage can and sells them.”

Mark O’Connor wrote in his diary, “So there I was, standing where Hank Williams and all those famous people stood.” Armed with his fiddle, O’Connor, then 12, was making his first appearance at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry. “I didn’t have any hat,” he remembers, “because someone sat on it, and I had outgrown my boots, but I went out anyway.” At 13 he topped all comers in the Grand Masters’ Fiddle Contest, and today at 16 is the best young fiddler in the country. He has won an unprecedented four straight national junior championships, cut four records, appeared on Hee Haw and returned to the Opry three more times. The tall (6’2″), easygoing O’Connor developed his picking prowess in Mountlake Terrace, Wash., where he began classical guitar lessons at the age of 6. He decided to try the fiddle when he saw Doug Kershaw playing on The Johnny Cash Show. The versatile Mark also took the National Guitar Flat-Picking Championship two years in a row against adults. A high school junior, he teaches the fiddle when not competing. With his career already launched, Mark is busy planning a “heavy jazz album with drums and good sidemen” for next summer. “I just ease with the breeze and go with the flow,” he says. “That’s my style.”

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