Glass pumpkins attract crowd to Fine Craft festival – Vineland Daily Journal

MILLVILLE Hooded jackets and umbrellas were a must to have Saturday during the Festival of Fine Craft at Wheaton Arts.

Even stormy weather couldn’t keep most away from the annual two-day event that showcases pieces made by artists from New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York and beyond.

Visitors weathered a steady, soaking mist and high winds as they admired and purchased handmade items including baskets, pottery, jewelry, clothing, and so much more. Artists specialized in clay, fiber, fine arts, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed medium, photography, wearable items and wood.

The glass pumpkin patch has become a main attraction at the event. The patch was set up outside of the Museum of American Glass. Glassblowers at Wheaton Arts have been working steadily for the past few months preparing more than 3,000 blown-glass pumpkins for the show.

They came in a variety of sizes and colors. Some cost as little as $20 and the larger pumpkins were priced at $250 and up. There were realistic orange pumpkins, bright purple pumpkins, speckled pumpkins and multi-colored pumpkins, all topped with an artistic curly glass stem.

“It’s about making good color combinations,” said Max Lefko Everett of Pittsgrove, a glassblower at Wheaton Arts. This year artists made some using an opaque white glass and the size of some of the pumpkins was larger than in previous years.

Many visitors stopped by the T.C. Wheaton Glass Studio to watch the artists at work, and more pumpkins were added to the patch throughout the day.

The glass pumpkins have even started family traditions for visitors such as Heather McCauley of Atco who has attended the event with her family for the past three years. Each year, each family member picks out a glass pumpkin or two to add to their collection. “We wouldn’t miss this. Nothing is stopping us from getting our glass pumpkins. Not even a hurricane,” McCauley said.

More than 100 artists set up their work inside tents, creating a strip of individual shops along the center lawn of Wheaton Arts. Visitors spent time talking with artists and learning about their trades.

Maryann Cannon of Copper Plate Studio in Millville demonstrated etching. She explained how she creates a metal plate and then showed visitors how to use a press to make a hand-pulled print. Each print is an original because the ink never transfers exactly the same way.

Another tent housed original woodwork like bowls and platters that were created by Robert Broschart of Upper Township. He spent the day at his lathe next to his booth demonstrating his skill to visitors. He began with a block of wood. After several minutes on the lathe and some sandpaper, the block was transformed into a beautiful wooden dish.

Visitors crowded the Create Your Own Silk Scarf tent by Ebru RichSilk Designs in Pennsylvania for their turn to try the Turkish marbling technique or just to get a close look. Richard Aldorasi and Dietrich Binder, both of Morton, Pa., were on hand to guide participants in choosing colors that complement each other and they offered direction on applying paint.

Several artists demonstrated their skills and visitors could create their own. Children enjoyed activities such as make your own scarecrow and coloring crafts. Package Goods Orchestra provided live music.

The studios, museums and shops were open during the festival and were bustling with activity. The Event Center at Wheaton Arts was filled with artisans who offered a variety of goods from jewelry to photography.

Tricia Dufford of Newport volunteers at Wheaton Arts and attends the festival annually. “Every year it’s the best festival. I always have to come,” she said.

The Pascale Sykes Foundation celebrated the kickoff of its new destination marketing campaign, New Jersey’s Heartland, during the Festival of Fine Craft. The campaign promotes the region as a “great place to live, work, play and raise a family.” Visit njheartland.org to find of variety of places to visit and things to do in Cumberland, Gloucester, Salem and western Atlantic counties.