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Paradise City Arts Festival : Marlborough

Holiday 2010

With Thanksgiving over, the Holiday shopping season has officially started. We got an early jump when we spent a day at the Paradise City Arts Festival in Marlborough, Mass. We are not big on craft shows, but we have been to this show a few times over the years because this festival features works which are at a level of artistry and craftsmanship much higher than the typical fair.

We didn’t have to go very far into the show before we happened upon something we really liked. Ken Salem of Salem Board & Beam (Northampton, MA) was talking about his line of furniture made form salvaged and reclaimed hardwoods. We listened and chatted with Ken for a while about what makes them different. We learned that 80% of the lumber used in the creation of his pieces is from reclaimed and salvaged wood sources. Because of that, every piece of furniture has a back story. How cool is that?

Of course, for those with a more modern bent, there are furniture makers at the show, like TrebbeModern, that will satisfy those cravings (we are partial to them because we love “making” pieces ourselves). We love the subtle curves, simple lines, and functional forms. Don’t let the fact that they are artful pieces fool you, these pieces will stand up to rigors of daily use.

When we happen upon a knifemaker, we always stop and chat. Les Rachlin is a knifemaker and was quite happy to show off his creations. Handcrafted knives are not just beautiful to behold, but are extremely practical to own. Properly cared for, they can be passed on for generations.

There were artisans of all types at the Paradise City Arts Festival. Some work with wood, others with metal. Lisa works with fiber, specifically wool. We found her “freaky wool sculptures”  friendlyfrightening, and seriously fun to look at.

We almost didn’t see Lisa working away at another fuzzy freaky sculpture, so well hidden amongst her creations was she. Her creations are all made out of wool using a technique called felting. Wool fibers naturally tangle and pull together because the fibers have microscopic scales on them that get caught in each other. By working it with a needling tool, it is possible to encourage the wool fibers to mat together tightly. Properly done, the wool can be controlled and used to create beautiful items.

What did William Blake say? “To see a world in a grain of sand/And a heaven in a wild flower/Hold infinity in the palm of your hand/And eternity in an hour…” They may not be infinity, but  Rajesh Kommineni‘s glass orbs manages to capture “magic” inside a glass globe which anyone can hold in their palm..

Rajesh started working with glass full time in 2003 after graduating from the University of Massachusetts. In 2004, he established Kommineni Art Glass. His focus has been mostly on marbles and paperweights. Occassionally, he also makes glass jewelry, doorknobs, gear shifters and small blown vessels.

If you are tired of arts and crafts shows with too little of either, go check out a Paradise City Arts Festival when you next have an opportunity. We will bet that you will definitely come away amused, perhaps amazed, and maybe even awed.

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