Art has always been an irresistible expression for Sandra Webberking. The 1997 graduate of Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia was first intrigued by jewelry. By her sophomore year of college, however, she had ventured into sculpting and metalwork, and she hasn’t looked back since. Even now, with a business going strong for 13 years, she’s constantly finding new ideas and imaginative projects. And, on Sept. 11, she’ll return to as a featured artist for the 32nd Annual Bethany Beach Boardwalk Arts Festival, with her eye-catching creations.
“When you study art,” she said, “you look for it everywhere.”
Part of her transition to metal work resulted from the difficulty that comes with stepping into the jewelry market.
“There are so many jewelers out there anymore,” said Webberking. “The metal work that I do is not as common, so the competition isn’t a difficult one. It’s not quite as precious, either. If I need to fix something or make any changes, I can just cut a piece of metal off, throw it into a scrap pile and use it later. It takes a lot of the pressure off me as an artist, and it can make my creations a lot more affordable.”
With even a quick glance, it’s easy to appreciate the time and effort that go into her whimsical home and garden pieces. Upon closer examination, though, the media become more recognizable. Propane tanks, plow blades, garden tools and other farming equipment come together in an unlikely blend to create one-of-a-kind works designed for indoor or outdoor use. A naturalistic canvas, complete with recycled media, help her connect her work with her attempts to preserve the environment.
While the recycled aspect is an appealing characteristic of Webberking’s vision and her work, it’s not everything, as the intricate make-up of art, itself, has a huge draw.
“I put a lot of time into my work,” she said. “I like when people notice something about my work and where it came from, but I also want each piece to be strong enough where it’s not just about that. The sculptures I create are just as much about line and movement.”
Most of her inspiration stems from her childhood in Glen Mills, Pa., where she would often venture through the woods and go on nature hikes. Today, she still enjoys the outdoors. As an avid gardener, she still manages to escape to nature, which is reflected in her metal sculptures. Snails, dragonflies, birds and butterflies are all incorporated in her craft, while metalwork trees and sunflowers take form in her practice, too.
While all of her work is ornate and decorative, Webberking often finds purpose in her creations, as well. Bike, wine and coat racks, planters and candelabras all combine purpose with art.
“I love the idea of something being a sculpture and functional at the same time,” she said.
She has been commissioned around the Philadelphia suburb of New Kensington for her talent, finishing bike racks, gates and fences that help spruce up the community.
“I’ve been fortunate to bring my work into some of the lower income areas, too,” she said, “places where people may not be exposed to art very often. I get a lot of enjoyment making stuff for these areas. It is definitely appreciated.”
At this year’s Boardwalk Arts Festival – an event that has brought Webberking plenty of business in the past – she plans to debut her decorative metal “passion flowers,” as well as her wine racks and bottle holders. Her “suncatchers” and tripod planters have had a lot of heads turning at recent shows, as well.
“There’s something for everyone’s price range,” she said. “A lot of my items make great Christmas gifts, too.”
The show, itself, offers exposure for Webberking, and traditionally generates some curious shoppers on her Web site, at www.sandrawebberking.com.
“After shows,” she said, “people tend to check out my stuff on the site, even if they don’t purchase anything on the boardwalk. It’s a great way to get in touch with more clients.”
For more information about the 32nd Annual Bethany Beach Boardwalk Arts Festival, hosted by the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce, visit www.bethany-fenwick.org.