Tag Archives: Newport RI

Mother’s Day is Every Day. Especially Tomorrow.

10 May

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The first cool thing about our mother’s and grandmother’s generations – well, my mom’s and hers, at least – is that they still do the same things they always did: They shop daily on their local main street, they talk everyday (on a real telephone) and they eat – well. They don’t diet. So if you listen to yours, she has probably already told you what she’d love to have (or do) for Mother’s Day. She won’t deliberately drop a hint because she doesn’t expect anything. That’s the other cool part. But if you’ve made time to talk to her recently, you will know all about that little lamp she saw at the corner antique store that’s too much for her to spend on herself. Or you’ll remember those fancy pastries she gets every now and again from her favorite baker. A simple surprise is all it will take to make your mom smile. Which is all I ever really want from mine.

She won’t deliberately drop a hint

because she doesn’t expect anything.

So do consider the local shops in your mom’s neighborhood when buying today and tomorrow, if you haven’t already. If you’re near, make a reservation somewhere she wouldn’t splurge on herself. And if you can’t do either – which is fine, by the way – just give her a call. She would love to chat.

Ideas and more Ideas:

  • Because we avoid pounding the pavement and prefer to shop online, it’s often easy enough to find mom’s favorite shop there, too. We love Etsy for this. And, remember she may have seen something at one of our shows. Almost all of our artists, craftsmen and vendors alike offer online retail, too.
  • Get the good stuff delivered. Check out one of our favorite vendors, Delectable Edibles by Renee for not just amazing edible and artful fruit arrangements, but sweet tooth satisfying goodies, too. Lots of bakers offer local, same day delivery but still order even if it can’t be delivered right away. Mother’s Day is every day and mom won’t mind whenever their treat arrives.

  • Take Mom (Grandma and Great Grandma, too) out. Just about everywhere is offering a Mother’s Day Prix Fixe option. The ProJo has begun a weekly list of restaurant openings. It includes links to current menus, as well as reopening info for those seasonal spots that closed over the winter. It’s helpful to know your favorite is back open and always fun to be turned on to new endeavors, too. Eat Drink, RI has a comprehensive list of statewide offerings, as well.

Thanks for reading, as always, and for giving thanks, however you choose, to the motherly figures in your life. And remember to share this post via Facebook. Festival Fete will be offering giveaways to regulars on our countdown to the start of the 2014 season in beautiful Newport, RI. Stay tuned!

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Festival Focus: Meet Jen Black

29 Apr

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Connected by bridges yet somehow quite wonderfully disconnected sits Conanicut Island and the town of Jamestown, Rhode Island. Perfectly pastoral and coastal at the same time, Jamestown manages to miss the throngs of summer traffic some of it’s neighbors contend with and so remains a peaceful community of folks dedicated to their myriad crafts. Jennifer Weeden-Black is one such islander. Anchored in her family’s rich history here, the artist has grown Islandesign for over ten years bringing the strong simplicity of the island to life in her bold, original stained glass canvases. Browsing her pieces feels like flipping through an old photo album of our beloved, local landscapes and seascapes we here at Festival Fete covet. We can’t wait to see what she brings to Newport.

Festival Fete: What were you up to this past winter?

Jen Black: Farming is a perpetual part of my life and inspiration. Though I don’t live on a farm, I worked at Simmons Farm in Middletown, RI to fill the need.

FF: What has inspired your most recent work?

JB: My latest projects have been a series of goats as panels of glass or paintings, inspired by the goats on the farm. Islandesign and stained glass as an art form to me is a large part of an ideal lifestyle.

“My family and I live a pretty simple life in Jamestown.

Family, art, and a love of farming inspire me every day.”

FF: Tell us about your process.

JB: My mother Donna is my partner in a lot of the stained glass preparation process. What people may not realize is how very time consuming the whole task is. Each piece, no matter how large or small, has at least a 13-step process. From picking out the perfect colors to polishing the finished product, it is a lot of work. I design my own templates and never copy from books. Stained Glass is a medium that you really have to love the whole process of.  Most people who take classes, don’t continue. They don’t realize how much time is put into each piece until they make their own.

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Local goats as recent inspiration: From painting to stained glass.

FF: Does any piece stand out as your favorite? 

JB: My favorite pieces are often the most challenging.  My mother and I made a very large Beavertail Lighthouse panel as a commission last year. It was a tedious process because it had to fit in a very specific space exactly.

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Clockwise: Conanicut Island, The Pell Bridge, Beavertail Lighthouse

FF: Which are you most proud of?

JB:  I am most proud of a piece we made for a couple in Connecticut. It was a large Poppy Garden. It was very time consuming, but satisfying to see it hung in it’s space. The look on the customer’s face said it all.

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Sea glass “Web,” repurposes sea glass from local shores.

FF: Where do you source your glass?

JB:  The glass that I use for the work mostly comes from a supplier in Old Saybrook, CT. It’s always a pleasant trip to go and visit with Vinny and Carol. I also love to repurpose glass like old bottles or sea glass from our beautiful beaches here.

And beautiful they certainly are, as interpreted by Jen. You’ll find the artist in person at our first show in Newport on June 28th and 29th. Browse her pieces at her online shop on Etsy and like Islandesign on Facebook.

Thanks for reading our latest in artist interviews on the road to Newport. Stay tuned!

 

Festival Focus: Meet Lianna

16 Mar
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Pictured here in her own designs, Lianna’s natural warmth of personality is reflected in each piece.

I’ve fallen in love with new artists at each and every Festival Fete show over the past year but I have a particular thing for jewelers. New to us is Lianna Slater of Lianna Michelle Designs. She’s one of those artists whose work, both artistically and professionally, is the essence of what Festival Fete strives to deliver to it’s guests. Culled mainly from Rhode Island shores but also collected from Utah and Florida as well as Mexico, Brazil and Russia, the stones she uses in her necklaces, bracelets and earrings remain unadulterated. Whether semi-precious or simply a unique pick from a beach walk, Lianna wraps them in various treatments of copper wire, with a subtle hand, letting the natural curves and original shape of her finds stand out and define the overall piece. The results remain earthen and chunky but still so delicate and fluid. 

Both in and out of her studio, Lianna is busy. She divides her tireless commitment to her own creativity with a demanding job at Looking Upwards, a Middletown, RI-based non profit which provides a wide array of services to adults and children with developmental challenges striving to live to their fullest potential. Through their vocational day program, Lianna supports four young artisans in their aspiring business, Downtown Designs, a gallery in Newport where their work is proudly displayed. There she teaches and together they “sell and share art, share space, and share community.” She was so gracious to take time to answer my questions. Her work is best spoken through her own words:

Festival Fete: What have you been up to over this particularly long winter?

Lianna Slater: Cold winter days made it easy for me to stay cozied up in my studio, enhancing my brand and business and keeping my creations flowing. It was the perfect time for me to be highly productive. As an artist, it’s easy to get lost in the creative process and lose sight of the branding, so it was especially important to me to set the intention of, and to put attention into, revamping my website, which will relaunch this Spring.  I’ve also been building my inventory for the 9+ shows I have lined up for 2014.

FF: What has inspired your most recent work?

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Slightly smaller in scale, Lianna’s most recent work is at once graceful and striking.

LS: Scale. My designs have tended to be larger, and I will always carry these signature pieces; however it’s important to me to be more accessible to my customers. Over the years, I’ve paid closer attention to what the majority are looking for. More often, it’s ornate, smaller scale pieces. I’m a self-taught jewelry artist with a B.A. in Fine Art. Painting, actually. Some customers have compared my pieces to wearable works of art, which is the ultimate compliment. In playing with the scale of my most recent collection, I have realized I’m still able to create aesthetic statements that are now even more affordable! So, this year it’s all about dialing down the scale and proportions of my work. It’s been a challenge, but the end results surpassed even my own expectations.

FF: Your beautiful stones and gemstones are set in copper, mostly?

Lianna: Yes, that’s right! They all start off in copper foil. The process I’ve implemented is similar to that of stained-glass making. I begin by wrapping each stone in copper foil and solder each piece individually. Laying the stones into artful, organic, and balanced composition is my forté. Once I fabricate an assortment of pieces, I send them out to be plated in .925% sterling silver or copper. At this point, it becomes a fairly repetitive, but quite therapeutic, process. This year I’ve been experimenting and created a new, diamond-like texture that I’m really excited about.

FF: Have you collected stones on your travels outside of Rhode Island?

LS: Oh, of course! Just like a photographer doesn’t go anywhere without their camera, I don’t go anywhere without my eyes wide open for inspiration for a new piece or collection. I’ve traveled to bead expos and antique shows over the years for supplies. My favorite is the International Bead Expo in Tucson, Arizona. It’s exciting to meet the rock hounders and miners themselves – the folks that really unleash these historic gems. It’s a dream of mine to travel to Russia or Brazil to discover their natural origins for myself.

“Just like a photographer doesn’t go anywhere without their camera, I don’t go anywhere without my eyes wide open for inspiration for a new piece or collection.”

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Give meaning to an ordinary outfit with these bold, yet somehow understated, pieces. I plan to wear mine with a t-shirt and jeans or simple dress. Lianna’s prolific use of various crystals, agate, freshwater pearls, jade, carnelian and ‘ordinary’ beach stones made choosing just a few examples here difficult. Visit her site to view more of her natural creations for sale and some past commissions, too.

FF: Where do you find the most inspiration?

LS: Nature has always been my blank canvas and such a source of inspiration. I’m often left in awe and wonderment at the science and origin behind each selection I make — whether it be from geodes and crystals from ancient volcanoes dating back millions of years, or to local rocks and shells found combing the shorelines of New England and Florida. I feel honored to bring these selections to life, as though I’m a conduit merging unique and vast materials of yesteryear together.  Europe meets Newport, or East meets West — not sure the best way to describe it — but it all works for me, and my customers seem to agree.

Yes, Lianna, we do!

You’ll find Lianna at every Festival Fete show this upcoming season as well as a few other great events. Find her schedule on her website, liannamichelledesigns.com or follow her on Facebook for regular updates.

 

Off the Beaten ‘Parade’ Path

15 Mar
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Tree-to-Table: Register at asri.org now for Coventry’s Maple Sugaring Tours, one of a few alternatives this weekend.

It’s not all about St. Patrick today in little Rhody! If you’re looking for something less crowded and more ahem sober, check out quahog.org, our new favorite guide online to the best of the”Ocean State’s history, culture, and quirks.” Some highlights we found for today are the Prudence Island Tour and Seal Watch out of Bristol or the Maple Sugaring Tours in Coventry, both great options for the milder weather we’re expecting. Back in Bristol tonight at Coggeshall Farm Museum, enjoy a historical cooking workshop, where participants will work from the first published American cookbook to enjoy a truly colonial, farm-to-table dinner by candlelight, of course. And the Kitchen to Table Exhibit, tomorrow, at Warwick’s Clouds Hill Victorian Museum showcases food prep and presentation over the years with myriad tablescapes from casual to formal. Just a few suggestions for the more laid back of our Festival goers this weekend. Of course if you decide to enjoy one of the major parades, either in Newport or Providence, or even Boston, have a lucky libation or two for us – that sounds pretty good, too! Cheers, stay well and stay tuned…

Love is in the Air

13 Feb

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As I sit by the wood stove crafting valentines under deadline with my kids, I can’t help but feel the warmth and joy this whole month brings still in the midst of frost and snowstorms. It is a time to share our feelings and to show them off, really. And in that spirit of giving (and receiving!) I’m reminded of the endless beauty in the handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces I’ve found at the artisans’ booths at our shows. Crafted with care, gifts like the kind you happen upon at Festival Fete are a unique way to express your love, gratitude, admiration or desire. 

So while we patiently await our first event of 2014 at the end of June in downtown Newport, RI on scenic, historic Bowen’s Wharf, remember that many of our vendors can be found in the off-season at their online storefronts. And quite a few can be conveniently perused at once on Etsy.com, our favorite one-stop shop online for handmade, vintage and authentic finds.

We are still talking about the last show at Rhodes and how we ogled the uber earthy creations of Sasha Walsh, how we just lingered at Maji Jewelry and stood amazed by the delicate beauty of Mermaid’s Baubles newest pieces. I’m sure I added something to my wish list with every pass by!

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Cherry Valley Herb Farm Assorted Teas

Wishing something sweet for my mother, I called Dina just today at To The Queen’s Taste. Her whoopee pies at the last show were outrageously good. She is happily still taking orders and recommends shipping her coconut macaroons or her classic Eccles cakes, made so decadent with cinnamon, raisins, brown sugar and a honey glaze. Any of her creations would be a welcome treat to come home to. Pair with a loose tea from Cherry Valley Herb Farm and you’ve just warmed the heart, home (and belly!) of a loved one even if you can’t be near.

The list of awesome festival followers goes on… and on….Any ideas handmade from your heart this year? Let us know, we’d love to hear back. For now, stay tuned and stay warm!

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Maji Jewelry’s Fossilized Gold Dipped Shark Tooth

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Sasha Walsh