All photos by Sue Ann Rybak

by Sue Ann Rybak

Philip Dawson, executive director of the Chestnut Hill Business District, said this year’s annual Fall for the Festival was a tremendous success.

“Over 10,000 people enjoyed a beautiful day in Chestnut Hill, complete with more than 150 unique vendors, delicious dining options and entertainment for all ages,” he said. “This year’s event was distinguished by over 50 new fine artists from around the region, who elevated the offerings with a diverse range of high-quality art pieces.”

This year’s Best in Show winner was artist Wayland House, who produces woodblock prints. He is a painter and a printmaker whose work has been featured throughout the United States.

On his website, he said “Through the trial and error process of creativity, I discovered a technique of integrating woodblock printing procedures with watercolors/colored inks, collages and cut-outs. The final product depicts a unique approach to color.”

He also stated on his website that “the greatest joy in this process is working out problems, developing design concepts and interacting with people from all walks of life.”

This year’s Fall for the Arts Festival 2019 award winners featured artists in several categories: Oils and Acrylics – Psane Creations, first place, and Barbara Zanelli, second place; Watercolors – Lisa Budd, first place, and Ellie Moniz, second place; Drawing – Pandas Love Pickles, first place, and Paul Carpenter, second place; Sculpture – Ken O. Glass, first place, and Branches, Twigs & Other Stuff, second place; Photography – Gene Pembroke, first place, and Stacey Granger, second place; Crafts – Edna Rambo, first place, and The Bearded Carver, second place.

Besides beautiful works of art on display, many artists and artisans demonstrated how they create their art, crafts and other wares.

One of the crowd’s favorite demonstrations of the day was by nationally renowned ice sculptor Peter Slavin, who owns Ice Sculpture Philly. After already carving slabs of ice into a jack-o’-lantern and the Philadelphia Eagles logo, 8-year-old Jenna Brown requested that Slavin, a Mt. Airy resident, make a haunted house with a moon out of the slab of ice.

It wasn’t long before a few kids were holding their hands over their ears from the sound of the power saw cutting through the ice. Slavin even had snowballs for the kids in an ice chest, and asked Brown at one point to assist him by holding a huge slab of ice.

The little girl’s eye’s sparkled after Slavin transformed a giant slab of ice into a haunted house with a moon.

There was plenty of delicious food at this year’s festival including Barry’s Buns, deep-fried Oreos, funnel cake, cotton candy and ice cream. Three-year-old Connor O’Neill told the Local his favorite food at the festival was the ice cream. This year, he attended his third Fall for the Arts Festival with his dad, Joe O’Neill.

Describing his day, Connor said he had “heard a loud band at the festival, picked the right duck [to get the green plastic race car] and ate ice cream.”

He was waiting anxiously to see Puppet Pizazz at The Stagecrafters Theater, 8130 Germantown Ave. when he said what he did so far.

Sarah Robbins, outreach coordinator for Philadelphia Guild of Handweavers, was also at the festival demonstrating rigid heddle weaving. She said Philadelphia Guild Handweavers, which is located on Main Street in Manayunk, is one of the older fiber arts guilds in the country.

“We do spinning, felting, weaving, dying, quilting, sewing, crocheting and knitting,” she said. “Today I am demonstrating rigid heddle weaving. Rigid heddle, weaving is done on a loo that actually only has one heddle, unlike floor looms, which may have multiple heddles, shafts, etc.”

Robbins said rigid heddle weaving looms are inexpensive because they are lightweight and small.

“They are a great gateway to weaving,” she said. “A lot of people who learn how to loom learn on these smaller looms, and then they graduate to these larger looms.

“And the technique is very simple if you are doing just a plain weave, or you can do complex patterns on them. We are also demonstrating spinning wool, and I am weaving baskets, which is how I started out as a basket weaver. We are also going to have someone here today who is going to be carding wool, which means we will be cleaning and preparing it for the spinning wheel.”

Robbins said after someone from the guild demonstrates how to card the wool, the same volunteer usually spins the wool.

She said, unfortunately, they can’t demonstrate “from Sheep to Shawl,” but it’s a fun and experience for everyone. And what better time than Fall to learn about the art of turning sheep wool into sweaters?

Sue Ann Rybak can be reached at sueann@chestnuthilllocal.com or 215-248-8804.

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