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Annual Festival of the Arts attracts crowd

By Staff | Jan 13, 2016

Flocks of people gathered on Cape Coral Parkway Saturday morning as artists opened their tents displaying their creations for the opening day of the Cape Coral Festival of the Arts.

“It was a very good day,” said Donna Batson, with Pottery from Paradise. “The weather was perfect.”

Although the fog slowly disappeared, as the sky opened into a beautiful blue warming the crowd as they wandered from tent to tent, the weather took a turn for the worse Saturday night. The vendors fared well after a tornado touched down in southwest Cape Coral, leaving them only to deal with rainy conditions as they set up for the show on Sunday.

“Our tent did well,” said Wendy Zoschke with Vetro Caldo Designs, while placing handmade jewelry in specific areas. “We did come down and check on it. We checked on a friend’s tent and that did well, too. Our hearts go out to the artists that were affected and residents who were affected (by the tornado).”

Batson said with their new shelving system, her tent remains pretty sturdy and can withstand a good amount of the elements. The only precaution she took before leaving Saturday night was packing away all of her pottery pieces, something she does regardless.

By 10 a.m. Sunday, the rain began to let up, as the vendors continued to perfect their space for the festival goers, who began to drizzle in with umbrellas in hand.

Batson’s tent, which displayed her pottery collection of plates and bowls, among other beautiful handcrafted pieces, has been apart of the Cape Coral Festival of the Arts for the past four years.

“We have repeat customers that look for us,” she said, adding it’s one of the reasons she loves being a vendor at the festival.

Batson began taking pottery lessons in 2004 with her girlfriend after they spotted an advertisement for a class. She instantly fell in love and begged the instructor for another class.

When she begins creating a new piece of pottery, she begins with a lump of clay that is either formed or thrown. A glaze is added to the piece before it is fired.

After noticing a mistake in one of her pieces a few years ago, she tried a new technique that covered the blemish, which she continues to incorporate into her pottery pieces. That technique uses a tiny paintbrush to create little dots all over her piece, which takes about 30 hours to complete per piece.

After she applies the countless dots, the piece is fired again. Although she has experimented with many colors over the years, she has found that she is leaning more towards reds.

“I always like the way it looks,” Batson said.

Batson does an average of five or six art festivals a year, mostly in Central Florida. The artist lives in Leesburg.

The Zoschkes, who live part of the year in Springfield, Ill., and the other in Leesburg, has had a tent at the Cape Coral Festival of the Arts for the past eight years.

“The people are so nice,” Wendy said of the festival-goers.

Her husband, Marc, said the crowd is a very eclectic mix.

Although the opening day of the festival was fair, Wendy said they could always do better.

“There were quite a few people here, but not buying as much as they have in the past,” she said.

After owning a gallery for 22 years and Marc doing art shows for a number of years with his fine art photography, the couple decided to dive into making handmade jewelry nine years ago.

What started off as working with stained glass, metal smithing to fusing glass, eventually evolved into creating one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry.

“We cut our own stone, make our own glass,” Wendy said. “We have got it to where the stone and glass doesn’t break down.”

Their space was full of necklaces, pendants, rings, bracelets and cases where the jewelry can be displayed. Marc said individuals can display the piece of jewelry as a work of art, as well as show it off while wearing the piece.

Wendy said although traveling from festival to festival can be tough because all she sees are hotels and white tents, the look on her customers’ faces when they find a piece they love is worth that time spent on the road.

“When someone loves it . . . it’s going to be worn. That’s the joy,” she said.

Some of their customers have shared that pieces they bought over the years have been handed down to either their children, or grandchildren.

“These things can be around longer than I,” she said of their jewelry.

The couple encourages individuals to purchase handmade pieces of jewelry, whether its from them or another jeweler because of the time, thoughtfulness and creativity that goes into a single piece.