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May 23, 2014
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Glenside Arts Festival
by Mary Anna Rodabaugh

Glenside Arts Festival White tents lined the center of Easton Road at Glenside Avenue as soft acoustic melodies radiated from the performance staging area. From live handpan music demonstrations to a vibrant selection of homemade pillow sets, each inspired by characters from Downton Abbey, the Downtown Glenside Arts Festival featured a diverse selection of artisans on Saturday, April 26.

With the help of Marcy Boroff, owner and operator of Renaissance Craftables, a premier craft show promotion company, the festival brought together over 60 different artists.

“A lot of people are local but I have people from Maryland and other areas as well. It is a wide draw of artists,” Boroff said.

The festival featured live music, children’s craft activities, local food and wine selections, and information tables from organizations such as PNC Bank, Wells Fargo, the Glenside Free Library, and Arcadia University.

Among the participating artists was Diane Kolb, who wore a 1900s-style navy blue dress with a large feathered hat as she worked her Personality Pillows tent throughout the day. The unique pillow sets, as well as Kolb’s attire, attracted a lot of attention.

For the festival, Kolb featured a collection of pillow sets inspired by the show Downton Abbey. The blue, brown, green, and silver pillow sets were named after characters from the show. Each set was wrapped carefully with ribbon, making the pillows look like little presents.

Glenside Arts FestivalKolb also created a set called “Lady Gaga,” which was made up of a vivacious, multi-colored fabric; a “Man Cave” set made of brown fuzzy fleece material; and a set created with a metallic copper snakeskin-like fabric called the “Michael Jackson.” She also had an elegant royal purple set called the “Princess Diana.”

When creating a pillow set for a particular personality, it all comes down to the fabric.

“If I go do a Game of Thrones collection, I look for fabrics like the characters. I touch the fabric and then I know,” Kolb said.

Kolb has been creating these unique pillow sets since last summer. Her full-time passion is children’s writing, and she has written and published My Father is a Clown, The Star to Guide Me, and more.

Connie Toll is another artist who takes ordinary craft ideas and puts her own unique spin on them. Toll, the founder of Nature’s Notes, creates intricate stationary using leaves and flowers to decorate the front of her notecards. Her work is not made up of “run of the mill” pressed flowers. In fact, she does not press her flowers at all. Sometimes her completed flower design isn’t even made of flowers. Toll cuts down leaves, ivy, as well as other flowers to create an entirely new flower.

Glenside Arts Festival “In the fall, I collect leaves, sort them, and refrigerate them. Then I cut them down into the shapes I want,” Toll said.

She also uses the natural material to create other shapes, such as fire and even a cello-shaped design. Toll has been crafting these notecards for the past two years.

“It just turned into a sort of love of mine,” Toll said.

Dad’s Barn Studio and The Tiny House Studio merged to form the Tiny Barn Studio for the Downtown Glenside Arts Festival. Artists Monica Minski and Julia Ponzek featured a myriad of paintings. Their style included vibrant colors and, at times, ordinary subjects such as pigs and frogs. These subjects are transformed into an abstract-like form, giving them a cartoonish appearance. The artists also created several postcard sets; one featured a painting of a smoking nun. Collectively, their work stood apart from the other artwork at the festival in a bold and fresh way.

Janet Spahr evoked a soothing and calming atmosphere for those passing by her handpan music tent. Using a lapel microphone to amplify the sounds of the handpan, Spahr gently tapped the instrument to produce a calming melody while singing softly alongside.

Glenside Arts FestivalThe handpan is a new family of instruments created in 2000. “A relative of the steel drum, a handpan is made up of two hollow metal semi-spheres, with one side having tone fields hammered into it,” Spahr’s flyer said.

The tones are similar to that of a steel drum, but sound softer and gentler. Spahr’s continuous performance throughout the festival delighted visitors both young and old.

The Downtown Glenside Arts Festival offered more than just “a few pretty crafts to admire.” From the live music and the local food, to the diversity of craftsmanship presented, this festival appealed to all of the senses.

Photography by Max Grudzinski