Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sugarloaf Craft Festival recap & Happy Halloween!


Happy Halloween kids!!! :)

I've been seeing some incredible costumes popping up on facebook! Bravo!! No big spooky kooky plans for us this year. Just home painting, but once again the NJ weather ghouls have blessed the kiddies with fantastic Trick or Treating weather!


This weekend me and Aaron took the opportunity to re-visit some old habits and haunts. We attended the famous Sugarloaf Craft Festival, right here in beautiful New Jersey. At one point in our lives we were regulars at any given Autumn Arts & Crafts festival. Well, we actually got our start being vendors at tons of Fall craft fairs...in parks right along side scarecrow making contests, or right on the main street of some pretty town, side by side with vintage car shows...or at indoor markets in schools, gymansiums, armories. Those were the days...the weeks of prep...making tons of what we hoped would be popular sellers. Some fairs were surprisingly lucrative...others, we'd just about break even...and some, the day would end, our pockets empty, and we'd strike up conspiratorial conversations with fellow broke vendors about how the event promoter must've decided to not promote the event at all...just took our booth fees and skipped town, as we artists languished in our tents out on main street, watching tumble weeds blow by while silently tabulating all that we spent on supplies and hoping that we have enough dough in our pockets to buy gas for the drive home. It's a good thing that gas was cheap way back then...it was a bad thing that we didn't even yet have the option of bringing our inventory home and maybe selling it online..."what are these things you call 'websites'?, and are there spiders in these so called 'webs'? cause I'm scared of spiders, and I think most of our customers would be too." Yeah, like I said...it was a while ago...me and Aar have been in this game for a loooong time.


But anyway...good, bad, or ugly...in retrospect, we wouldn't trade those times for anything. Fall Craft Shows...we weren't just vendors at them. We also attended a ton of them as customers...strolling the isles, sipping hot cider, buying cookies, dip mixes, handmade dog treats, super cool handmade jewelry, and just checking out the work of fellow arts & crafters...striking up friendships, trading business cards, all that good stuff.


But like I said, somewhere along this twisty road of life we got out of the Craft Show Habit. Our work changed shape...the market for our work changed shape...and propping up tents and backdrops in parks around Jersey, taking a gamble on the October weather, praying that the promoter actually promoted...these things just didn't make sense anymore. And we also got too busy or too lazy to go out to craft shows just as shoppers. So this weekend it was a bit of a blast from the past...and a welcome one.


The Sugarloaf Craft Festival is a BIG one. It's in a huge convention center and there are hundreds of vendors, well selected, diverse, all handmade stuff. And they hold this same show in the Spring...and they do it in other states as well. A lot of the artists are regulars and their customers come to see them on a regular basis...we overheard conversations between customers and artists like " ok, I'll see you again in the Spring, and I'll send you passes again." We love hearing stuff like that. We remember those awesome customers...Aaron was in a band forever and it felt similar...like having fans that came out to see you whenever you played in their neck of the woods, and they knew all the words to your songs. Those regular customers make the world go round...those "supporters of the arts". We're thrilled to have a few of our own...and honestly, their names and faces are etched into your artistic process...to some degree, you are creating specifically for them.

This was our first time going to the Sugarloaf Craft Festival and the opportunity came about in a fun way. The promoter contacted me and asked me if I'd like to do a giveaway here on my blog...two tickets for the giveaway winner to attend the festival, and two complimentary tickets for me and Aaron. Of course I was down for it. We went with Aaron's parents and made a day of it. The weather was nice, we went out to dinner afterwards...we all had a good time. The perfect thing to do on a Sunday in late October. Below, I've got some pics of Festival highlights and some info about my Festival Faves...I totally recommend either checking out some of these peeps online or finding out if they'll be doing a craft show near you. All the folks we talked to were super sweet and totally cool with me snapping pics of their great work to share with you guys.


Ok, handmade dog treats are an absolute must-buy for us when we attend a show. Our pups are our world...and it's great when you meet a dog treat baker who shares this feeling. When you see how much care is put into the work, you just know that they're not in it just to make a buck. You know they LOVE dogs. These adorable doggy delectables are made by Tail Bangers. We bought a selection of sweet treats because our little guy Jack prefers sweets to salts...and our bigger guy Carlos will eat ANYTHING...so it's wise to pick what Jack likes and let Carlos follow suit. Here's how deeelish these treats are...Jack ate so many of these cookies last night while we were watching The Walking Dead, that he ended up whimpering because he was too full (oh, and by the way..."so many of these cookies" actually means one half of one cookie...yeah, apparently little Jack has a little belly) ...it's so cute how he acts like a tiny baby...he honestly wants me and Aar just to comfort him and tell him that everything is gonna be ok...he cries with the saddest face, leads you to his bed in the corner of the bedroom and makes you pet his tummy til he falls asleep.

Now, these folks with the red gingham check are Brumbaugh's Old Fashioned Delites. We bought some salty dog treats from these guys, little sausage & cheese flavored cookies...but human goodies are their specialty. From carrot cakes to peanut butter whoopie pies...pumpkin cream cheese rolls, you name it...and they sell tubs of their cream cheese filling all on it's own...all sorts of jams, spreads, cookies...even pickles and peppers...all homemade by these folks. They're from Williamsburg, PA and in their booth they have a photo hanging of their home/bakeshop...it's cool that they give us a glimpse of where the magic happens. People were lining up for samples of their carrot cake...and jeez, you shoulda saw the cinnamon buns...oooey-gooey!

Before even seeing what this sweet gal made, we were stopped in our tracks by her adorable display. Everything you see is just the embodiment of HANDMADE...and the booth display couldn't have illustrated it better. The little faux fireplace, the garlands of pinecones, the felt Mittens sign drying over the mantle. And there in the back corner of the booth was Valerie Luke, of Lancaster PA (val_unraveled@verizon.net) hard at work at he sewing machine...making more mittens! All of her materials are recycled. The mittens are made from old sweaters, in tons of cute patterns that dare you to try to fail at finding a pair that suits your wardrobe...and the comfy fleece lining is even recycled. Valerie is so so nice...I mean it. I know that I am the queen of superlatives...but I can't overstate it enough that she is a super sweet gal. We both gushed about our shared love of Pinterest.



When I posted the giveaway for the tickets to this show I made up a little mosaic of pics to represent some of the art that you'd be likely to see at the show. And because I only like showing good stuff on my blog I edited this mosaic to contain only my favorite images. So, when we were at the show Aaron stops at this booth and goes "wow, look at this stuff!"...and sure enough, "this stuff" was stuff that I had selected to be in the mosaic...actually the first and fave image of mine. It was the felt bunny gloves that grabbed my attention. Well, those are just a drop in the bucket. Miss Fitt is the brand, and Wendy is the extremely prolific gal behind all these hand felted wares. What grabs you first is the quality of the work...the attention to detail...the beautiful colors and craftsmanship...and then you are overly impressed with her style...everything isn't just well made...it's also so darn cute, stylish, hip...all that stuff. And finally, at last, you are absolutely bowled over by the QUANTITY...the depth of her collection...the amount of stuff...all of it wrought by her hands. Super impressive...and again, what a sweet girl!

As you know, me and Aaron as painters, do extremely representational artwork. Our work is decidedly specific...not wide open for interpretation. Now, my personal artwork, the paintings that I paint just for me..to hang on my walls only...these are not representational at all. These dwell way closer to the "abstract" neighborhood. I may have posted a couple a while back...and some may be over on Flickr...but mostly, I keep these painting to myself. And I'd say, as a fan, it's this style of painting that I am most drawn to...artists like: Flora Bowley, and Jennifer Mercede absolutely floor me. Their work, more than most literal painter's work, makes my heart melt and my soul swoon. And Aaron's got his own that are nearer to this genre, guys like Cy Twombly, and the pen & ink drawings of waves by Raymond Pettibon.
So, when we saw Shaun J. Rabah's paintings we just had to stop and chat with him. We talked for a while and told him how much we liked his work...we barely even said anything about our own work...but we bet Shaun would be a bit surprised if he saw our paintings...like, people who paint stuff like us, probably aren't usually fans of stuff like his :) ...but we are. I don't think Shaun's been at it for very long but he's already formed an impressive personal style. His attitude was refreshing...zero pretension. He does what he does because he likes it...and he wants to know if you like it and if so...what? and why?...He actually cares about the viewer...which is rare. He stood out at the festival...his work being gallery level. There were other artists there who you could say were suited for a gallery but not to the extent of Shaun. He wasn't selling prints...just large originals...which is a gamble for a show like this...but he did well...had a big sale the day before. He's from DC and he's got a couple more shows on the horizon...one coming up at the Javits Center in NYC.
Me and Aaron always think of Decor first...like how well will a certain painting fit into a living room. And it was nice to hear that he thinks along the same lines. His sale the day before was to a girl just moving into a new apartment and she was excited to have a big statement piece to define the look of the apartment. Shaun was excited about this and in that respect we had a lot in common.

These super sweet handmade itty bitty dresses and things were another one of my pre-pics of the festival. Lavender & Old Lace, this is one of the first booths we stopped at and I immediately recognized the little girl dresses from the pics that I previewed. More amazing vintage fabrics than you can imagine. Really, endless pretty prints...for you, your little girl, or your little girl's little girl...meaning American Girl doll dresses. Donna is the gal who crafts these cuties and she was so very nice...New Heirlooms Made from Vintage Linens is her tagline. I loved seeing her stuff because it transported me to one of my great friend Jennifer Paganelli's holiday sales at her amazing home in Connecticut. She'd have racks and baskets full of cute stuff like this. Me and Aar were so busy the past couple of years that we missed Jen's events...next time she has an open house we just have to get back up to see her! Anyway, I think Jen and Donna from Lavender & Old Lace would get along famously.

Bob's Boards! It's funny that I'm ending my Sugarloaf Craft Fest blog tour here... in real life this was the absolute first booth that I stopped at. When you go to a really big Arts & Crafts Festival I think the people who have booths right by the entrance are at a disadvantage...because you walk in and you can see that the event is huge...and then you see the first few booths and you're sorta not yet ready to soak everything in and as you're warming up from the chill outside and discussing your shopping strategy you end up just walking past the first few vendors. Poor guys...and then, you'd think...well, you missed 'em on the way in, but you have to pass them on the way out, and then you'll stop to see them...but, then it turns out that you're all shopped out and you just wanna leave...so you walk past them again! Like I said, poor guys. So, if you're working an event, word to the wise, try to avoid getting a booth right at the entrance.
Anyway, Bob's Boards WAS NOT right by the entrance. In fact, he was in a perfect spot...right in the first row of the big showroom...right when you're really ready to start soaking it all in.
And we were immediately taken aback by Bob's work. You could tell right away that there was something special about this wood. The cutting board above that looks like black & white stripe grabbed us first...we love black & white stripe...but we knew it was only an illusion...that the woods were neither black or white...but the darkest brown and palest blonde wood grains. He uses absolutely no stains or lacquers! What you see is the true beauty of the wood and nothing else. You can see in the pic above, in the upper right, a board with bright red in the wood grain. Before we found out about Bob's stuff being all natural Aaron asked if the bright red was a naturally occurring phenomenon in the wood...and Bob informed him that- yes, in fact the bright red was put into the trunk of the tree by an insect. Bob offers cutting boards, serving trays, cool oval boards that fit over the neck of a wine bottle that hold two wine glasses and provide a perfect spot for cheese, bread boards shaped like slices of bread, awesome clipboards.
At home, and for years now, Aaron and I have lived with almost exclusively-painted furniture. And for years we've been hired to put layers of paint over natural wood grain. Granted, we never paint over good stuff. When we paint something it's usually for good reason. But Bob Boards will make you absolutely fall in love with wood all over again! You'll think twice about painting. Bob's got a website offering a lot of what he makes, and cans of the beeswax finish to maintain your wood. Trust me that the stuff is amazing...and Bob is a super nice guy!


Ok, our epic journey through the Sugarloaf Craft Festival has come to an end. Sorry for the length, but I wanted to give my featured artists their due. I hope you enjoyed seeing their work and it would be so awesome if I guided anyone to be a future customer of theirs. I myself am a supporter of the arts...I spend whatever I can...and when I don't have much to spend I always do what I can to spread the word about artists who do great work. I'm so glad we got out to a show. We'll make sure to find the time in the future to go to more...and who knows, we might even get out there and do one! Alright, thanks again for reading...next post will feature a great little tutorial using our full color sticker sheets! xoxo, Jenny

3 comments:

  1. i super love your look!!! the eyes are amazing. my gosh! i got hungry looking at those sweets. now I'm craving doughnuts!!!!

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  2. Wow, didn't know that was in jersey. Love your make-up.
    Hugz, Z

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  3. Thank you for the kind words. It was great meeting both of you and I look forward to being in touch. Best of luck with everything....Again, I love your playlists.

    Shaun

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Thanks so much for reading! We absolutely love to hear from you guys...so please leave a comment if the mood strikes you, or if you have any questions for us about a recipe, project, art supply , paint color, etc. Don't panic if your comment doesn't appear right away...we moderate all comments to avoid getting tons of spam. Thanks again!!
xo Jenny & Aaron