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Paradise City Art Festival 2011: Northampton

The weather this weekend could not have been more perfect for a road trip. We took full advantage of it and drove 100 miles out to Northamptom for the Paradise City Art Festival. We have been to the Marlboro PCAF a number of times and so thought we knew what to expect. We were happily mistaken.

What we found was a show that was about three times as large. As expected, the show was extremely well organized (free parking, fast moving ticket lines, etc…) and the vendors were all very high-end. This show had live music, a huge food tent, and was spread out in multiple buildings.

We have known  Mark DelGuidice for over ten years and always get a thrill when we recognize a piece of his in a catalog or a collection somewhere. We are even happier when we get to see him in person! We knew Mark would be showing at PCAF so we made a point of stopping by for a chat.

Mark’s style is unique and is highly recognizable. Interestingly enough, while his designs are fresh and comtemporary, his approach to woodworking is old-school. Mark does not use CAD software in designing his curves and angles, nor does he use CNC tools in cutting complex pieces. He takes more of a “sketch it and cut it” approach to funiture-making. To see how things fit, he often makes a scale model of the piece before making a full-sized version. Clearly it works, if you are a master of the craft like Mark.

After monopolizing Mark for about half an hour, we thought we had better let him get back to business and for us to see the rest of the show. As the number of artisans showing was quite large and if we were to not miss anything, we needed to make our way through it systematically.

It tooks us about four hours (including lunch and an additional stop for ice cream), but we did manage to visit all 275 booths. If we were to talk about everything we found interesting, we would be writing about the show all week long. There is a reason why PCAF has been ranked the #3 art fair in America. It’s a small sample of the vendors we found to be particularly inspiring:

While all of the artisans at the show were amazing, every so often we come upon something truly unique. We are talking about Mark and Sharon Dielbolt and their vacuum-formed exotic hardwood veneer handbags. They created a process to stablize the wood so it does not distort with changes in humidity. The pieced are hinged at the bottom, the ends are made from leather, and the closure is magnetic. The pieces are a beautiful blending of wood and leather and probably one of the most interesting and functional uses of exotic veneers we have ever seen.

The gorgeous weather may have something to do with it, but of all the PCAF we have attended over the years, this was the best one. We would definitely trek out to Northamptop for it again.

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