Crafting a career in her family’s business begun more than 40 years ago has come naturally for Carly Gilmore. A third generation member in Gilmore Enterprises, she handles the advertising and public relations for the Greensboro-based company’s art shows, including the 31st Craftsmen’s Summer Classic Art & Craft Festival, opening Friday for three days at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
Gilmore said she would attend this event with in tow with her parents, Clyde and Tami Gilmore, and “Myrtle Beach was my very first show.”
“I was two weeks old,” Carly Gilmore said, saluting many vendors who return each year. “This is a show that feels like as reunion every time. ... I grew up among these people. They’ve seen me grow up.”
Thinking about the Craftsmen’s Summer Classic and the market overall, Gilmore said jewelry has kept its popularity and that pottery has made another rebound, with new glazes and designs.
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Just in the past two years, “upcycled and recycled items” have built their own category, she said, describing the former as “taking discarded or recycled items and repositioning them.”
Gilmore voiced her appreciation for artisans who take such articles as jackets and sweaters and make new outfits, “for a very unique look,” something that’s not mass produced nor found easily in a store.
‘A good mix’
Scanning the roster of vendors, Gilmore said every Summer Classic brings “a good mix” of repeat and new, younger vendors, and that “old favorites always come with new products.”
She said her family sees Myrtle Beach as “kind of a whole different market,” with many local residents shopping, “and a lot of tourists coming in” from as far as Ohio or Canada.
Vendors and browsers alike, “they always know it’s the first weekend in August,” Gilmore said, noting the many opportunities to meet the artists and learn how they made their creations.
Besides the possibility to discuss custom work, “artists like to talk with you and find what you need,” Gilmore said. “There’s always a story behind every piece you buy at this show.”
With such a variety of wares, no matter what one’s age range, gender or interest, “you’ll find something in here you’ve never seen before,” she said.
Gauging what might be hot, Gilmore said anything goes: “That piece of yard art” might be the rage this year, and next year, “it can be something totally different, something whimsical, and decorative and functional.”
Fran Dixon of Virginia Beach said she has set up shop at the Summer Classic for about eight years and that since age 2, she has enjoyed vacationing in North Myrtle Beach from Ohio and West Virginia. The painter of acrylic works said she brings about 40 works for each show.
Nature and landscapes have always occupied her eye.
“The ocean is what I really love to paint,” said Dixon, drawn to apply her colors on “big slabs of hardwood, plus the canvas.”
She spoke about incorporating the wood’s grain and holes to the scenes, maybe to show a sea turtle in the shade, or a clutch of turtle eggs and crabs.
So, the wood gets integrated into the painting, “and every piece is different,” Dixon said.
She complimented Grand Stranders as “so nice” and that she remembers Cherry Grove Beach “when nothing was there” besides the pier.
Stained glass specialty
Elwood Huff of Dansville, N.Y., just west of the Finger Lakes, makes stained glass in traditional and contemporary forms, along with jewelry.
He said he and his wife of 48 years, Patricia Huff, a former doll maker, always looks forward to this summer show without worrying about the weather outside.
Like Dixon, the Huffs work in a couple of extra vacation days around the Summer Classic. Elwood Huff said he’s thankful his always changing kaleidoscope and stained glass panel designs fetch interest every year, often with the same clientele.
Huff said fewer stained glass artists continue in the trade because “the cost has gone up so much on materials and the profit margin has really dropped.” He uses beveled glass and jewelry heavily, and his works range from sun catchers to large sun panels.
A small piece could take one hour to make, and larger designs might fill six to eight hours, he said, counting 18 to 20 hours poured into a carousel horse panel.
With more than 30 years invested in this outlet since retiring from the Navy, Huff said every artist “has a story” and her enjoys conversing with customers at the Summer Classic, meeting up again with folks who travel for this show and others who have “transplanted” here from western New York state.