A Visit to the Sugarloaf Craft Festival in Oaks, PA

Sugarloaf Crafts produces several festivals every year in the Northeast.  This November I attended the show at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center.   When arriving with my Friday ticket, I received another ticket for entrance on Saturday or Sunday, which I thought was nice.  The show is huge, and one might not see everything on the first visit.   There are over 260 booths, so you might want to economize your energy by seeking out your favorite booths first and then doing your general browsing.    The event was wheelchair accessible.   If walking, wear comfortable shoes for the cement floors are hard on feet.  I’m including a few highlights here, and the photos should become larger with clicking.

Susan Wechsler Designs, Chester, NJ

Susan creates hand built, high fired, sculpted porcelain and stoneware.   Her works have dimension, texture, and use a rich palette of colors.  Much of her work is inspired by nature, as you can see with the shapes of leaves on many pieces.   Her red maple leaf line really picks up the actual colors of autumn.   She has an extensive line of cheese plates with coordinating knives, which would make a pleasing gift for just about anyone.

JMN Creations, Pittsburgh, PA

Joseph Lavrich was an experienced cabinet maker before directing his talents to wood turning.  He uses domestic woods to make his lovely creations.  He knows the characteristics of each type of wood, and uses this knowledge to make pieces of varying smoothness, color, and pattern.  He told me that although he might start off with a certain design in mind, he allows the wood itself to tell him how the design will actually “turn” out.

Simon Xianwen Zeng, Flushing, NY

Simon paints in acrylics and oils, and also has giclee prints of his originals for sale.  His works show lively colors in landscapes and nature, among other subjects.   In addition to brilliant, popping colors, his paintings’ subjects are clear and artfully succinct.   I especially enjoyed the painting of the autumn red tree, perfectly colored for fall, the leaves represented by even swirls.

Light Painter Photography, Stroudsburg, PA

Dan Mohr’s specialty is fine art nature photography.  He showed many works of the beautiful countryside of the Poconos.   He explained to me the high quality of the inks that are used in his giclee prints, and that they can last for 50 years or longer, depending on display and storage.   His works are printed on canvas wrapped frames, making an actual frame unnecessary if so desired.  The image detail and colors can have you reliving your last trip to the Poconos, or wishing you were planning such a visit.

Olevano, Wilmington  DE

Olevano gets its olives from their family farms in southern Italy, and produces their oils, cosmetics, and soaps in Wilmington.  I can attest to the tastiness of their lemon infused olive oil, and there are many other flavors such as red pepper and white truffle.  Their soaps are lovely and are made in a variety of fragrances.  They seem to be able to do anything and everything that one can do with olive oil.  I thought the design of their honeycomb olive oil soap was just darling.

Add the above mentioned artists to another 255, and you have yourself a very full day, and perhaps a very full weekend.   The next Sugarloaf show will be in Gaithersburg, Maryland, the weekend of  November 18th.  They will be back in Philadelphia on the weekend of March 16, 2012.

—  Written by Diane Olivia

Sugarloaf Craft Festival

Kate Johnson reporting on the Sugar Loaf Festival – November 4, 5, 6, 2010 

We arrived around 11 AM and the show was not as crowded as vendors hoped. By the time we left at 2 PM, the vast space of the Oaks Expo building was filled, but not crowded. As we have seen so often this past year, some vendors seemed to be attracting people just fine, and others were idle.  This is an important point. It is sometimes difficult to look inviting and friendly when you are afraid that you may actually lose money in a show, but that deer in the headlights look, or the sour face I saw on one artist really sends people away.

I am new to this as a vendor, and the first thing that struck me was that the tables were taller. Mary Anna Barratt’s eletroformed, copper dipped and enameled leaves were displayed at waist height. She told me that she inserted dowels in the table legs to increase the height. 


Pretty Baby Naturals are the 3rd generation of soap makers, and the company involves 5 generations in all. They had a truck load of product, and I don’t mean a pick up truck. This shot does not begin to convey the many kinds of skincare products they had, but it does illustrate the humor with which they name and package their soaps. I fell for the Wise Guys soap because it was a wonderful marbled turquoise, and was truly fragrant with ginger and lime.  Jim Taylor, one of the three owners was generous with his time, chatting with me about their manufacturing process, and the differences in capabilities between cold process, and melt and pour, which is what I do. It was a nice conversation.


Nguyen’s Stitch Art was a knockout. These are hand done silk embroidery, and the hay stacks were densely stitched in concentric circles. Zowie. I have many embroidered things that I have done, but this is a whole different realm, and must be so labor intensive. 

Jerry Grant was a pip, in his kilt, and extroverted manner. He got my friend into one of his massive rockers in 5 seconds. You plop your feet on the fronts of the rocker rails, and presto, your back is pitched in a restful position. 

This Potpourri maker had a very large selection of visually beautiful mixtures.  I know that I picked up her card but I was so busy sniffing everything, that I have no idea where I put it. In the picture, to the immediate left of the gentleman’s hand, you will see the fragrance oils that they sold as restoring oils for when the potpourri loses its zip. Clever.

Kist Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry, crafted very nice bracelets, necklaces like the one she is wearing and some kicking masks like this copper one. She is very creative. 

Finally, the booth of the unexpected kind, but I loved, was the Survivor Firestarters, with magnesium and flint starters. Magnesium, I learned burns at 5,000 degrees, so by shaving off very small bits in a little pile, then striking the flint for a spark, you will get a reliable fire even with wet wood. As a camper, I was impressed. This is the item for a “go bag” if you have any survivalist people, or your favorite Navy Seal.

Kate Johnson of Mamoucha Soaps, is the daughter of a Dutch woman, and her mother and grandmother began teaching her crafts as soon as her hands were big enough, and she could say,”Show me how!” She is fascinated with combining color, fragrance, and shape all at once, and loves that she can pull her Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts training into it to do this. Mamoucha is a treasured name that her daughter gave to her.




Sugarloaf, Oaks, 2010

Two weekends ago I had the privilege of attending the Sugarloaf Festival in Oaks, PA courtesy of Handmade Philly.

It was great to see so many established and talented artisans with seriously well made and fine tuned stuff. In fact, there were so many crafters that I’m sure we overlooked things that we definitely would have wanted to see. The following caught my eye for one of a number of reasons including unbelievable craftsmanship, striking booth display, or friendly, extroverted artisans educating me on the process or importance of their craft.

Got All Your Marbles, all the way from Tuscon, AZ, generously allowed me to look and touch and take photographs.  Beautiful jewelry and you could pick your marbles, if you wanted to. There was a line to look at this stuff and it was well worth it once you got to the booth.


Michael Natale makes beautiful pottery.  The first thing that attracted me to walk closer was his booth set up – it really gave you the feeling that you were going to find something special if you stepped inside that space.  There was a lot of pottery at the show and his really stood out.  Really interesting designs with a lot of personality.  When I got home, I went to his website and read a little bit about him and the history of the business.   He studied Fine Art with a minor in Art History, which isn’t surprising – everything about his space and objects read like a well planned work of art.

Then we came upon Miller’s Wood Shop.  Oohs and ahhs from dh and I because there’s nothing like well crafted woodwork and these objects did not disappoint.  Tables and chairs were to die for and would be worth every penny if we had the pennies to spend.  Doesn’t look like he has a website but his business card provided his email (millerwoodshop at yahoo dot com), if you ‘re in the market for beautiful handmade furniture and the most comfortable wooden chairs ever.

I’m a sucker for all things botanical and these prints, cards, magnets, and ceramic tiles from Wildflower Graphics were gorgeous!

Another guilty pleasure of ours is wildlife photography and the pictures at Ted Schiffman Photographic Productions were breathtaking.  That, and Ted was a very likable guy who was eager to engage with us about our favorite photos.  Great compositions, contrast, color, printing – all of that technical photographer jazz – plus, uh, getting up close and personal with seriously dangerous and beautiful animals.  I would so love to tag along on a wildlife photography journey one day!  I lifted the photo of the wolf from the website – it was one of many favorites in his display.

Last but not least is the amazing food that can be found at craft fairs – handmade, lovingly produced, delicious food.

Berkshire Sweet Gold Maple Farm had several different types of maple syrup and a wealth of information about it.  Not just for pancakes!!! Of course I tried mini shots of every single kind of sweet gold they were offering and with all five senses involved, settled on 250ml of the dark amber.   I also love that if you return your glass bottle, they give you a credit for your next purchase.  (Photo taken from the website.)

Right across the isle was the Bouchard Family Farm with Ployes – these amazing buckwheat crepes that they were cooking on a griddle, topping with butter and honey, and giving away.   We were greeted with friendliness and a melt in your mouth delicious crepe.  Ployes is for sale at Whole Foods so you can check it out for yourself!  (Photo taken from the website.)

All in all, we had a great experience at the Sugarloaf Festival in Oaks, PA.  Many thanks to Handmade Philly for giving us the opportunity!!

Posted by Lisa Volta of Volta Organics.

Sugarloaf Craft Festival

This weekend I attended the Sugarloaf Craft Festival in Oaks, Pa.  This show was a treat for the eyes- not only was the talent unquestionable, but so many of the booth displays were almost as inspiring as the artwork.  


The three-day show featured over 300 juried artisans, gourmet food vendors, interactive demonstrations, live music and even children’s entertainment.  Maybe it was the fact that it fell on a weekend of fabulous weather, but attendance did seem a bit light, at least on Sunday, the day I was there.   

In addition to shows in VA, CT, MD, and NJ, the Sugarloaf also comes to the Philadelphia area twice a year, once in the spring, and again in the fall.  If you are considering doing a Sugarloaf show, booth fees start at $595, and jurying for fall 2010 began in January.   

Elkins Park, PA artist Kristen Stein & daughter of Studio Artworks


Blue Bell papercutting artist Jupi T. Das

Crafty Baby- A fun & colorful booth

Posted by Lauren Meakim of Gigglepotamus