Vineyard design doesn’t have one flavor or medium. The range in style, materials, aesthetic and use is as varied as the Island itself. But twice a week during the summer and periodically throughout the fall and spring seasons, the Vineyard Artisans Festival offers a unique opportunity to see close-up a large variety of work created by local craftspeople. From wearable fashions to decorations for the home or yard, the festival is the embodiment of Island inspiration and imagination.
Laura Silber founded Demolition Revival Furniture after using salvaged materials to build her own home on Martha’s Vineyard. She constructs her furniture using material gathered from demolition jobs and construction sites around the Island. Most of Ms. Silber’s pieces are custom-made through collaboration with the customer.
“When I’m making a custom piece I start with the function, what will it be used for? I map out the size, drawers and doors. I help the customer choose the color palette and the embellishments.”
The embellishments are antique hardware pieces that she sources from junk yards across the state — drain stoppers, steam valves, glass door knobs, Victorian heating grates, trunk latches, transom chains and door plates. She blends these antiquities with a color palette drawn by nature: goldenrod yellow, pumpkin orange, apricot.
“I’m inspired by the tradition and history of New England furniture and architecture,” Ms. Silber said. “Inspired with a personal twist.”
Just a few booths down from Ms. Silber the founder of the festival, Andrea Rogers, stood behind a table of lavender products. She described the artisans festivals as shows that support and represent Island artists and handmade crafts through a juried selection.
“Look around,” Andrea Rogers said, “You’ll see the Island as you walk through.”
Larry Hepler also designs furniture with an Island feel. He pointed to a coffee tabletop made from a natural cut of wood.
“The natural edge stuff sometimes comes from the Island,” he said. He ran his fingers over a small detail on the tabletop. A tiny white shell rested inside the wood, trapped in epoxy.
“The pace of life and the landscape of the Island inspires and supports my work,” Mr. Hepler said.
Kenneth Pillsworth, a jeweler, echoed Mr. Hepler’s thoughts about the important role the Island plays in his work. “The Island and this show have changed my life. It has made me, allowed this to be my full-time job,” he said.
When just starting out, Mr. Pillsworth lived above Claudia’s, a jewelry store in Edgartown. He also worked in the shop, producing work for Rick Hamilton, another Island jeweler. “I used to come down at night and make my own work on the bench,” he said. “That was a huge moment as far as developing my work.”
He works with mixed metals, but titanium is a recent focus for him. “I love it because of the color. Because I can’t solder to it, it encourages creativity. I’ll use rivets or cold connections instead.”
Mr. Pillsworth described his unique designs as “modern, clean and geometric. I try not to overdesign.” He works in a home studio in Vineyard Haven where he can get out of bed, turn on the lights and get to work.
Jamie Rogers is a young Island artist whose home is overtaken by her crafts. “I blacksmith in the backyard, do silversmithing in the garage and leatherwork in the basement,” she said. “I have space for stained glass and tinsmithing, too.”
She learned the tools of her trades at various places around the country — gem mining and jewelry-making in Colorado, blacksmithing and tinsmithing in North Carolina and stained glass in Oak Bluffs at Featherstone Center for the Arts.
Jamie Rogers’s booth reveals the wide variety of her designs. She picked up one of the handbags she creates from tin. This one was made from a tin of fish rub found in Menemsha. Next, she touched a mask that looks delicate but is made of hand-forged iron. The mask is masquerade ball-style. Brass rivets line the edges and a gentle stream of feathers dangles from one side.
“The feathers are from my backyard,” she said. About all of her work and materials Ms. Rogers added, “the more rare and unusual, the more I’m going to like it.”
“I’m amazed by the talent on this Island,” she added. “My mom [Andrea] is a wonderful artist and a supporter of artists. I’ve participated in the Vineyard Artisans Festivals since the first show started when I was a little girl. It’s a multi-generational thing. My mom, who’s the founder, has the booth next to me with lavender and brooms, and my grandmother has the table with crocheted work right by the door.”
Andrea Rogers’ brooms are made with corn that she grows herself. The color in the bristles ranges from brick-red to pale ochre to seed-brown. Driftwood handles snake upward from the corn.
“We were the first show after the James Taylor and Carly Simon benefit in the Ag Hall,” Andrea Rogers said. “That was 18 years ago and now we have shows May through Christmas. The Island is just a part of us. Look around at all the beauty we have here, how could you not be inspired?”
The remaining 2013 Island Artisans Festivals include Columbus Day, Thanksgiving and the Holiday Festival. Visit vineyardartisans.com for a full schedule. For more information about the artists described above visit their websites: Laura Silber’s at demolitionrevival.com; Andrea Rogers at vineyardartisans.com/andrea-rogers; Larry Helper at lhepler.vineyard.net; Kenneth Pillsworth at kennethpillsworth.com; Jamie Rogers at jamierogersmv.com.