“Every magician should put a rabbit into his hat,” remarked woodcrafter Dave Morgan, except that there wasn’t a cottontail in sight at his Sawdust Winter Fantasy booth. Instead, it is filled with hand-crafted wood creations such as hollow ornaments and outsized coffee mugs and even full-sized, wearable wooden hats.
That’s where the rabbit comes in. A top hat made from thin-sided, turned wood holds a surprise: a Disneyesque rabbit adorns the hat’s inside.
Morgan makes other hats such as headgear that would befit an elf and cheerfully models an exquisitely grained cowboy hat. Carefully detailed and not much heavier than its felt counterpart, the hat took Morgan 50 hours to make. For roughly $3,600 he’ll give it up, but he sells miniature versions for much less.
“You have your wooden form spinning at 2000 rpm. One false move and pieces fly,” said Morgan, of Rancho Cucamonga, a second year exhibitor whose day job is working for the county fire authority in Irvine.
Welcome to the 26th Sawdust Winter Fantasy, which opened to the public last Saturday, Nov. 19 with a ribbon cutting by Mayor Steve Dicterow and tree lighting. It’s scheduled to run for four more weekends from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., including today, Friday, Nov. 25, and through Dec. 18.
Young visitors can meet Santa Claus, play in a gingerbread house and get cozy in a petting zoo, admire Christmas trees decorated by local community groups and take art and ceramic classes designed for budding artists from age 7 to infinity.
The Winter Fantasy offers a cheerful alternative to Black Friday, thanks to the efforts of 175 artists selling wares ranging from crocheted hats, hand-painted silks, ceramics and blown glass objects to whimsical artifacts made from salvaged vinyl records.
The latter have been turned into wall hangings and even a planter by Skylar Wilson of Dana Point, who shares her booth with best friend Gabriella Kohr, a macrame artist. At 25 and 20, respectively, the first timers moved West four years ago from Rehoboth, Md., with the goal of eventually making it into the Sawdust. “I forage through the cheap record bins, looking for interesting titles and labels,” said Wilson. She said that she shapes the disks by placing them onto cans and then into a hot oven.
Another newcomer, Morgan’s booth neighbor, David Drake moved to
Laguna Beach from Wilbraham, Mass., specifically to be able to show at the Sawdust.
“Dave and I are going to sew up the woodworking market,” he quipped. Drake molds the cast iron legs other artists, such as Morgan, may need for tables and benches and makes tables from naturally shaped slices of wood.
David Kizziar’s intricate pencil drawings depict scenes of Laguna Beach where he has lived for the last three years. A first timer as well, he keeps his palette in browns, blacks and a smattering of white on taupe or light brown paper. A frame crafted from beach glass and driftwood by local artist Russ Moore enhances a particularly stunning depiction of Victoria Beach. He points out that some drawings are printed on aluminum and offers hand-drawn, framable notecards and ceramic tiles.
Easter eggs at Christmas? Adriana Wrzesniewski creates painted eggs recalling those made famous by the house of Fabergé. Wrzesniewski, of North Tustin, achieves her colorful results by applying layers of wax in patterns and lines augmented with paint. “The eggs are called ‘pysanky’ in Ukrainian and were first used in spring rituals and also given year-round as gifts,” she said. Each color and pattern is symbolic: Stairs stand for prayer and ascent, diamonds for knowledge and swirls and webs protection from evil.
Colors have their own symbolic language. For example, purple represents sanity, a useful trait to maintain just now.
Festival veterans fill out the grounds. Greg Thorne has added an attractive new line of copper bracelets to augment his signature pieces of turquoise jewelry. Olivia Batchelder, known for painted silk creations, also is selling unstructured ponchos in jewel tones. Helga Yaillen creates Asian-inspired felt wearable art pieces.
Fernando Micheli, a member of the Laguna Plain Air Painters Association and a local, twice exhibited at the summer Sawdust. This year’s Winter Fantasy is his first as an exhibitor. “This is a great place to get into the Christmas spirit,” he said.
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