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Fair in the Park showcases craftsmen's art

| Saturday, Sept. 2, 2006

For woodworker Craig Marcus, Mellon Park in Shadyside will serve as an outdoor showroom for his custom furniture designs next weekend during A Fair in the Park.

"People don't come up to my booth and take home a bed," he says. "The nature of what we build is too large for a 10-by-10-foot booth, but they like seeing us there. I try to show new pieces they haven't seen before."

Marcus, who relocated his design studio this summer from the Strip District to East Liberty, says the annual contemporary-craft festival presented by The Craftsmen's Guild of Pittsburgh is an attractive venue for woodworkers whose one-of-a-kind creations aren't available in local furniture galleries.

Besides being able to visualize the workmanship and design concepts unique to each furniture builder, fairgoers can discuss their ideas and ask questions about commissioning custom pieces for their homes from several woodworkers who set up displays.

"We usually do pretty well," he says. "The fair is a good source of new customers for us."

At this year's event, Marcus plans to have a bathroom vanity he made from cherry and koa, a tropical hardwood native to Hawaii. He also will bring a double-panel bed frame of curly eucalyptus and cherry, and an end table made of recycled sorghum wood. He says he especially likes working with sorghum because of its texture that resembles soft bamboo.

Paul Sirofchuck, of Ligonier, a woodworker and registered architect, is a regular participant at A Fair in the Park, where he displays pieces from his furniture collection he defines as "contemporary, with a natural edge." He prefers working with domestic woods such as walnut, cherry and maple, obtaining materials from local sawmills or by harvesting them himself.

Some of his work defies definition, such as his unique dining room chairs or a dressing mirror containing handy shelves designed for storing accessories that he refers to as an adornment center.

"I like reinventing things," he says. "I like to get rid of any preconceptions of, say, what a chair is. It's not necessarily four legs. It can have five or three legs."

At Mellon Park, Sirofchuck will showcase about a dozen pieces, including a rolling desk, a Hammond chair and a new tall-back stingray stool he created out of cherry and purple heart, an exotic Brazilian wood.

A self-taught furniture maker, Sirofchuck says his work is influenced by his training in architectural design. At the fair, he usually fields questions from visitors about where he gets his wood, how he gets ideas for designs and how to hand-finish wood.

"I've always had a passion for wood as a natural resource and how you can form it to your imagination," he says.

Max Peterson, a veteran woodworker with a shop in Bethel Industrial Park, Bethel Park, will be displaying his works at the fair for the first time. His crafted furniture ranges from fun bedroom furnishings to functional tables, chairs and cabinetry.

He says he is committed to ecological sustainability, and "whenever possible, I prefer to use domestic woods grown here in Western Pennsylvania that I know are harvested in a sustainable manner."

Other local craftsmen exhibiting wood furniture items at the fair include Craig Smith of No Wood Unturned, Mt. Lebanon; Lisa Knighten of LK Fine Wood Works, Crafton, and wood collages by George Wazenegger, of Dormont.

Nicole Capozzi, owner-operator of Boxheart Gallery in Bloomfield, is serving as director of A Fair in the Park for the first time this summer. She says the event has a few new features this year, including a revamped layout offering more space for participating artists and craftsmen and an expanded performing arts section. Concerts will be held Friday and Saturday evenings, and Sunday is Family Day, with performances by the Zany Umbrella Circus.

More than 100 craft artists working in clay, textile, jewelry, glass, metal, wood and mixed media are scheduled to display and demonstrate their art. There also will be a children's activity area. As many as 50,000 visitors are expected during the fair's three-day run, Capozzi says.

Additional Information:

Details

37th A Fair in the Park

What: Contemporary craft festival presented by Craftsmen's Guild of Pittsburgh When: 1-7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 9, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 10 Admission: Free Where: Mellon Park, Fifth and Shady avenues, Shadyside Details: 412-687-8858

A Fair in the Park entertainment

Friday

  • 1-2 p.m., Difficult Object
  • 3-4:30 p.m., DD Ray and the Electric Neils
  • 5:30-7 p.m., Joe Grushecky

Sept. 9

  • 11 a.m.-noon, Kevin Finn and Band
  • 1-2 p.m., Denys Candy and his Celtic Band Lissadell
  • 3-4:30 p.m., Soma Mestizo
  • 5:30-7 p.m., Blue Number Nine featuring The Random Horns

Sept. 10

  • Noon-1 p.m., 2 -3 p.m. and 4-5 p.m., The Zany Umbrella Circus

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