Art sale offers unique gifts for the holidays

Whidbey Islanders are lucky to live where the best gifts are made.

Their friends and family are even luckier because they reap the rewards of receiving something made by some very fine local artists and craftsmen.

Savvy island shoppers know that there is a veritable bounty of exquisite handcrafted items that come out of local studios and into the light of one of the best arts and crafts sales of the year.

The Friends of Freeland annual Arts and Crafts Sale at Freeland Hall is the place to be this weekend to find this unique trove of treasures. The sale is 5 p.m. to

9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, 9 a.m. to

6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17 and

11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18.

The spark that created Friends of Freeland culminated when Freeland area residents saw the need for a local group that could undertake small projects to improve the quality of life in Freeland.

The birth of the nonprofit Friends of Freeland organization came out of a need to provide leadership and a public forum for the conservation, enhancement and preservation of land and natural resources.

The annual Arts and Crafts Sale is one way Friends of Freeland has combined its mission to enhance the area with supporting the many artists who cherish the sanctuary of the island that inspires the work they produce.

Many of these local working artists are members of Friends of Freeland and support each other in their grassroots efforts to see Freeland thrive as a healthy community.

For this annual event, Friends of Freeland provides a full staff that sets up and sells the artists’ work during the sale. Artists receive

70 percent of proceeds from sales, while Friends of Freeland reaps the other 30 percent. In this way, both the artists eking out a living on the island and the community which they value and want to protect are nourished.

Shoppers benefit by giving beautiful handmade pieces during the holidays. They also have the added benefit of supporting a community that strives to create a healthy marketplace, leaving behind the anxiety of crowded off-island malls and the insidious commercialism that some feel is an ongoing battle during every holiday.

The Friends of Freeland sale features more than 30 artists selling ceramics, blown and fused glass, garden art, metal art, jewelry, photography, paintings, wood pieces, handmade bows and arrows, handbound books, wearable art, fine textiles, handmade soaps and perfumes and more.

If it’s a potter’s piece you crave, check out Joan Govedare’s raku-fired, hand-painted pots.

A ceramic artist of more than 30 years, Govedare’s designs are influenced by her astronomer father — her studio is called Night Sky Studio — and in much of her art she explores the myths, astronomy and astrology of the year.

Amazingly, Govedare accurately renders whole constellations on these evocative and delicate vessels.

For something completely different for that hunter-gatherer on your list, Duane Spangler will present his homemade bows and arrows.

Spangler said he has always been interested in primitive technology and started toying with making atlatls about 15 years ago.

An atlatl is a device that was used for throwing spears 30,000 years ago when killing wooly mammoths was all the rage.

Moving forward a few hundred centuries, Spangler’s bows are made of wood and no two are alike. He also makes his own strings, arrows and quivers.

Kim Kelzer is a nationally known furniture maker whose witty, colorful furniture and cabinets are exhibited in galleries, museums and homes around the country. Using only quality materials, Kelzer creates useful things for all around the home that happen to be beautiful and last a lifetime.

John Pendelton is a photographer who devotes his time to unmasking the sublime beauty of Whidbey Island.

Pendelton’s photographs are displayed in various shops on and off the island and shoppers at the Friends of Freeland sale may find just the right photograph for someone on their list who cherishes the natural beauty of the island.

The wonderful world of blown glass is represented by several of the island’s glassblowing specialists.

Amazingly, there are at least 30 artists working in “hot shops” just on South Whidbey alone and islanders are very lucky to have some of the best glass artists in the world designing these exquisite pieces right in their own backyard.

Island Art Glass of Freeland features the designs of Janis Swalwell, created by glassblowers Rob Adamson and Bob Hodges. The fine collection of ornaments, vases, lamps, stemware and all manner of elegant glass, glitters with color and light. Just to see all of this art brings a little joy.

Freeland Hall is located at 1515 Shoreview Ave., Freeland.

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