More than 50 local artists and craftspersons will gather at the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company on Saturday, Oct. 10, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., for the annual Artisan’s Festival sponsored by the BBVFC Ladies Auxiliary.
The free annual event promises to be even bigger and better this year, with creations ranging from unique jewelry, woodworking and sea glass to candles, textiles, glass, photography, painting and more being showcased.
As always, the event will also feature a gourmet food court, homemade soups and salads, and usual favorites, such as chili and hot dogs, but shoppers by can also enjoy snacks from the baked goods table — including the festival’s famous apple pies and apple dumplings donated by T.S. Smith Orchards in Bridgeville.
New this year will be a “Chinese auction,” in which each artist will donate a piece of their artwork to be raffled.
But even with all the new and returning features, the main attraction, of course, will be the artists themselves.
Erick Sahler’s array of hand-pulled silkscreen prints have depicted a variety of local towns, from 1960s downtown Salisbury, Md., to Berlin, Md., and more, but just in time for his Bethany show debut, he’s unveiling his Fenwick Island Lighthouse print.
“It’s a fantastic demographic in the Bethany, Rehoboth, Fenwick and Lewes areas — it’s just people who have the culture and means to appreciate good art. Anything I’ve done over there has been a huge success for me,” said Sahler of his latest serigraph depicting the area.
“I did the Lord Baltimore show in Ocean View, and I was talking about this Rehoboth print and everyone kept asking why I didn’t do a Fenwick print, so I went out and shot the lighthouse from every angle.”
Sahler was just finishing his latest piece before the show but said that it is consistent with previous works in the series — demonstrating similarities to 1960s pop art, with its bright colors and hard graphic lines.
While he’s been involved with art in various forms throughout his life, he’s now been pursuing his serigraphs as a full-time job for four and a half years and said that he’s never looked back on his decision to quit his day job.
“My grandmother told me when I was a little fella that if you can do what you like doing for a living, that you’ll never work a day in your life. That kind of struck a chord with me,” he said. “It’s been great. I have a family to support, and everything has kind of exceeded my expectations in every way. The feedback on my work that I’ve gotten is just sort of reinforcement that this is what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Even though he’s previously appeared at other shows in the area, Sahler is making his debut at the fire house on Saturday, where he’s looking forward to seeing some of the other artists.
“Creative people, they feed on one another. Just being with people who make something out of nothing — that’s always inspiration,” he said. “It’s a new show for me, but you always just feel kind of jazzed from talking to other artists.”
For more information on Sahler and his work, visit his website at www.ericksahler.com.
Returning for her fourth Auxiliary Festival is Bev Harrington of Ocean City, Md., who draws inspiration from both her lifelong surroundings of local beaches and from her frequent travels, as well.
“I started collecting shells in [Cape] Hatteras 40 years ago,” she explained. “I’m definitely inspired by the sea. We’re scuba divers and surfers and do charters on our boat — we’re just an ocean family. I collect shells no matter what country we’re in.”
While she’s been involved in art shows of some kind for 40 years, as well, after adding sea glass collecting to the mix during a stint in the Caribbean, she began to incorporate a new element into her art forms.
“I told myself as I got older that I would learn something new every year,” she explained of her various design concepts. “All of my life that’s been my philosophy, I would always just take a little night course one night a week and learn something new. My last course was Design in Welding.”
But whether it’s jewelry, stained glass, driftwood, seashell mobiles or whatever else, she is also there for the artists.
“I have several gals here that we just kind of do art shows all the time, so it’s a little comradery between local artists,” she explained. “Bethany seems to draw a really interesting crowd. It’s a good venue and a good quality show.”
Be on the lookout for her at the show and at her new Cape Isle Studio when it opens up in Lewes.
fused and stained glass
A veteran of both art and craft shows, including the Lord Baltimore show for three years, and running a show in Ocean Pines, Md., Barb O’Connor will make her first appearance at the BBVFC Auxiliary show on Saturday.
Not only has she created a variety of valances depicting a variety of scenes, she’s also ventured into other glass fusing projects, including lighted wine bottles and cheese boards — some of which are even on display at the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art in Salisbury.
“I do a lot of different things, but no particular one thing,” she explained. “Right now, I’ve got a lot of fused bottles that I’ve done, a lot of candles. I do quite a bit of everything.”
O’Connor originally got into it all after moving to the area from New York, which is when a friend of O’Connor and her husband mentioned that he’d like to learn how to do stained-glass windows and it sparked her interest.
“I’ve always enjoyed looking at stained glass, and when I retired, that’s when I had the time to do it,” she explained. “It progressed into fusing glass.”
Bringing her holiday-inspired creations and more to the Bethany show, O’Connor is looking forward to venturing back into Delaware.
“The wealth of artistry that is in all these areas is just phenomenal,” she said. “I enjoy going and seeing what everybody else does. There’s so much talent in the Delmarva area.”
Dana Smith, bags and jewelry
While she’s been designing clothes since she was a teenager, Dana Smith has since ventured into making jewelry, as well, which for her is just what she loves to do.
“Making jewelry is like taking a vacation. It’s a thrill,” she said. “Making things is just so satisfying. Then the next satisfying thing is for people to love them and buy them.”
Since getting her start, Smith has seen no shortage of demand for her products, drawing interest from stores including South Moon Under and the Hecht Company, who had started carrying some of her handmade products. And considering her upbringing as a lifelong resident of Berlin, Md., many of those handmade products are inspired by the sea.
“I use all kinds of marine things,” Smith noted. “Lots of pearls. It’s kind of thematic with me. I’ve never met a solid that I was completely comfortable with. I love texture patterns and marine themes — all of us are surfers, we’re water people.”
While one of her more popular creations has been her handmade jewelry travel bags, Smith also ventures into items including wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses, and has even designed dresses for Miss Delaware contestants.
Her latest venture, however, has been wire-wrapping and metal work, which she said is a future form that her creativity will take. More of her current items can be seen on her website at www.swagbagsplus.com or purchased on Etsy at www.etsy.com/shop/swagbagsplus.