How many of us have gone on a vacation and become so inspired by something we experienced that it changed the focus of our lives after we came home? When you come to the 16th Annual Stuart Craft Juried Craft Fair, be sure to meet one of the artists, Michael O’Toole. Only recently, Michael undertook a full education to become a glass blower! The Rickie Report interviews Michael in this article and gives you an overview of this terrific Craft Fair.
16th Annual Downtown Stuart Craft Fair
April 27 – 28, Saturday & Sunday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Osceola Street in Downtown Stuart
Navigational Address: 26 SW Osceola Street, Stuart, FL 34994
To Support the Arts, the Local Community and the Stuart Main Street Programs
Free and open to the public
Historic Downtown Stuart welcomes the 16th Annual Downtown Stuart Craft Fair on April 27th and 28th. This festival has become a welcome tradition in Martin County and is popular for the wide variety of original handmade crafts as well as the affordable unique gift items on display and for sale. Osceola Street will be closed to vehicular traffic from St. Lucie to Haney Circle and down to Denver to provide festival-goers with the best possible experience and will feature the finest crafters in the country. Partial proceeds from the festival benefit the Stuart Main Street Program. Admission is free and open to the public.
In order to ensure a first-rate event with superior affordable original crafts, all of the crafters have been hand-selected from hundreds of applicants by American Craft Endeavors, producers of the top outdoor craft festivals in the country. It will showcase original crafts handmade in America, unique and affordable gift items, 150 crafters from 30 different states, prices set to suit all budgets – ranging from as little as $3 to $3,000.
There will be a vast array of craft media including folk art, pottery, personalized gifts, handmade clothing, basket weaving, beaded utensils, candles, cork assemblage, fabric design, fiber quilts, fused wax & glass, hair accessories, handbags & accessories, handmade cards, leather, mosaic, wood, painted wood, plaster craft and stained glass. There will also be a Green Market featuring exotic plants, gourmet dips and spices, and much more. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Stuart Main Street Program.
Glass allows virtually an infinite variety in color, density, reflection, refraction, and transmission that is unique to this medium. Coupled with form, the possibilities for functional and beautiful art glass pieces are endless. Michael O’Toole creates paperweights, vases, ornaments, bowls and pumpkins.
TRR: You are a retired semiconductor engineer. Can you tell us what you did in layman’s terms?
My title was “Director of product and test engineering”. I was responsible for characterizing new computer chip products (making sure they performed to specification) and developing all of the test programs and manufacturing collateral that allowed the products to be mass-produced in Far-East manufacturing facilities.
TRR: What were your hobbies and leisure interests?
My hobbies were photography, woodworking, and travel
TRR: Tell our readers about your “aha” moment, watching the glassblowers on the cruise ship
We were on the Celebrity Equinox, and I was fascinated by the creativity of the three artists from Corning Museum of Glass. I could tell that the process was more difficult than they made it look, but really didn’t appreciate how much more difficult. It was clear how much they enjoyed what they were doing.
TRR: What were the next steps you took?
I enrolled at Jacksonville University. Even though I was enrolled as a non-degree-seeking student, they wanted my undergraduate records. I like to joke that it cost me a fortune to ship the “stone tablets” down from Michigan State to Jacksonville.
TRR: Had you ever considered opening this as a business?
Never in a million years. I wanted to continue blowing glass, and there were no facilities in central Florida that I could use, so this was really the only way I could continue.
TRR: What advice do you have for anyone who would like to turn their artistic interest into a business?
Don’t underestimate how much of your time will spent doing non-creative activities like sales and marketing. Actually sales and marketing require creativity to be successful, but it’s not the same.
TRR: When you create a new piece of glass art, how much planning do you do vs. how much do you leave to ” the moment” to inspire you?
I start off with a pretty firm idea of the color(s) and technique(s) I plan to use, as those are pretty much the foundation you have to build from. After that, I have a general idea of the form I am pursuing and allow the glass (and the colors) to modify my initial plan. Particularly when I’m doing something new, I will often re-make a piece, either adjusting my vision or my execution after critiquing the initial attempt.
TRR: Your vases and bowls have such wonderful depth! What made you decide to create pumpkins?
They’re fun and relatively quick and easy to make. My customers seem to like them. I have to admit that even though they’re not an artistic challenge, it is gratifying to see people “ooh and aah” over them and want to take them home.
For more information: Michael O’Toole Cell: (407) 738-9156 Studio Phone Number: (407) 687-5678
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://www.inspiredglasscreations.com
About American Craft Endeavors:
American Craft Endeavors (ACE) produces some of the nation’s most exciting high-end juried craft shows in many of Florida’s vibrant downtown areas and popular tourist destinations including the Lauderdale by the Sea Craft Festival (Fort Lauderdale, FL), the Holiday Craft Festival on the Ocean (Jupiter/Juno Beach, FL), the Downtown Stuart Craft Fairs (Stuart, FL), the Siesta Fiesta Craft Festival (Sarasota, FL) and the Downtown Sarasota Craft Festivals (Sarasota, FL) among others. The group’s founders personally select unique, culture rich cities for their show locations providing a complete outdoor experience unmatched by other festivals. All crafters are hand-selected from hundreds of applicants in order to ensure a superior event featuring diverse art media and the highest quality of original handmade crafts.
For additional information on the 16th Annual Downtown Stuart Craft Fair and other Howard Alan Events art and craft shows across the country, visit www.artfestival.com or call 561-746-6615.