When I think of crafts, I think of things along the lines of what my late grandmother used to make and hang on her Christmas tree. You know what I mean, lots of multi-colored yarn, puffy pom poms, glitter, and those three-sided beads (that were always so much fun to stack). I think of crocheted tissue box covers decorated with dried flowers. I think of hot glue and tiny dolls made of clothespins and fabric rosettes.
These were the sorts of things I imagined I would see when I visited the Sugarloaf Craft Festival at the Garden State Exhibit Center on Saturday, March 13th. To my delight, what I found instead was an abundance of accomplished jury-selected artisans showcasing collections of art ranging from sculpture to wearables (like scarves, jewelry, and handbags) to paintings and drawings to photography and so much more. The Sugarloaf Craft Festival, travels through the New England and Mid-Atlantic areas, and is one of the nation’s best shows of its kind.
Once inside, I shook the rain off of my coat and immediately began to search for the many NJ artists in the show. The first I came across was Marty Silverman as he was sharing the magic of his work with a sculpture demonstration. Silverman, a retired art teacher from Jackson, NJ, uses a hammer and chisel to sculpt alabaster, lava, and Rhyolite-Farrago (a stone found in Colorado) and from these raw rocks, manages to capture emotions of daily life as well as the graceful fluidity of nature. Silverman says of his work, “I let my feelings and the natural forms in each stone lead me on the journey to a finished work of art.” It is a journey well worth taking.
Continuing on my journey through the festival, I came across a great weakness of mine, accessories (scarves in particular). When I saw a booth full of vibrant handmade scarves of a variety of designs, I had to stop and (at least) try them on. Terry Lo, a Manalapan, NJ resident, makes all of the scarves herself, including “string” scarves, shawls, and hybrid scarf necklaces (what I ultimately purchased). Lo has been crafting her scarves, through her home-based business, for about six years and travels to local craft shows with her daughter, Jimay, who helps her with sales. Besides keeping busy selling her scarves at local crafts shows, Lo is also available for hostess parties in private homes. You can reach her by email at email@example.com and find out how you can update your look for spring with a beautiful new scarf.
After a few attempts to get his attention, I was finally able to speak with a talented artist who lives in my hometown of Milltown, NJ, John DeAmicis. DeAmicis’ work has appeared in galleries all over the world and includes whimsical and inspirational, limited edition pencil and ink prints. Some owners of DeAmicis’ work whom you may recognize are Elton John, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Henry Kissinger, Pepsi, and the Dr. Seuss estate. And very recently added to the list, yours truly. I purchased a print with an encouraging Tennyson quote, “That which we are, we are, and if we are ever to be any better now is the time to begin.” You can view an image of this meaningful and delicate print here. DeAmicis will be appearing in a show in Verona Park, NJ in May and a show in Haddonfield, NJ in July. A full list of upcoming shows is available on his website.
Though my focus at the festival was with New Jersey artists, I was also hypnotized by the breathtaking photography of Colorado photographer, Jon Mullen. Mullen is an accomplished photographer, having published his work over 200 times, and was recently awarded the prize of “Best in Show” at the Boulder Creek Festival’s juried competition. With his work capturing both the serenity and complexity of nature, it was hard for me to choose just one print to purchase at this show. I ended up choosing a print called “Yellow Pond Lily” for my office. (I’m hoping that the next print I purchase from Mullen will be one he takes of our beautiful state, New Jersey.)
Aside from the 275 artisans at the show, there was also live music, craft demonstrations, shows for children, and plenty of specialty food to purchase (and sample). I couldn’t possibly experience it all in one day, so I’m looking forward to the festival coming back to NJ in October!
INFORMATION ABOUT THE SHOW:
Tickets for the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival are $7 if purchased online, $8 for adults if purchased at the door, and free for children under 12. (Be sure to visit the website before purchasing tickets to see if any coupons are available.) Tickets are good for all three days. Free parking is available. http://www.sugarloafcrafts.com/index.html
The Jersey Girl