Peter's Valley Day Celebrated At The Fair
Saturday, August 11, 2012 • 10:04am
AUGUSTA, NJ – It was Peter’s Valley Day at the Fair on Friday.
For the first time, the State Fair/Sussex County Farm and Horse Show invited crafters associated with Peter’s Valley Craft Center in Layton, to take over the entertainment tent with demonstrations of their crafts.
Jesse Lerch of Wantage was attracting visitors interested in his use of a hair dryer like device he was aiming at tiles.
The heating device, rather than drying the art, was melting wax, making it softer and wetter, Lerch explained.
The craft is called encaustic. It is an ancient art that uses beeswax mixed with Damar resin, the sap of a tree native to the Middle East, to create patterns on a surface.
Lerch studied art at Connecticut College in New London with a concentration in sculpture.
“I worked in wax in college, encaustic was my bridge to 2D. With it I can carve into the material, build it up or even cast it.”
Acknowledging the pieces he is now creating look like they belong in medical textbooks, Lerch said he is creating images of body parts and “reassembling them in an abstract construct.”
He is heating the wax he spreads on the tiles to lighten the dark background.
“The images look like CAT scans and the texture mimics sculpture,” he said.
The artist was surrounded by tiles because each one has to be allowed to cool and then is heated up again. “I always have lots of projects at once,” he said.
Lerch learned encaustic through workshops at Peter’s Valley and now he teaches workshops. “Encaustic is a good medium for special topics,” he said.
Also demonstrating was Daryl Lancaster, a fiber artist.
She was using an inkle loom, a narrow loom designed to allow the weaver to make dense bands and belts. The inkle loom holds the warp tight and creates all of the pattern from the warp. The weft only holds the item together, she said. The warp is manipulated up and down to allow the shuttle to move through.
The project she was working on looked rather like a guitar strap from the 1970s, Lancaster acknowledged, but more modern items can also be made. She showed trim for a jacket she made as well as a woven jacket with intricate trim.
Lancaster, of Lincoln Park, discovered Peter’s Valley on a college field trip. She holds a BFA in textiles from Montclair State University.
“It’s one of my most favorite places on earth,” she said. She did the annual craft fair for years and also teaches classes.
“My day job is giving weaving seminars and workshops all over,” she said.
Weaving went out of fashion after the 1970s Greenwich Village ear, but knitters have recently discovered it’s fun to spin. Then they find they have too much yarn to ever use knitting. “They discover weaving uses yarn quickly.”
Small looms like the inkle loom allow weavers to take their work with them, she pointed out.
“Weaving is bi-lateral,” she said. “it doesn’t matter which side is dominant.”
It is also an escape for people in the sciences. Lancaster remembers students from science disciplines coming over to the art studios to learn weaving when she was in college and now knows scientists and engineers who weave.
Jewelry design also attracts the scientifically inclined, at least in the case of Eliza Bareiss, an architectural engineer turned jewelry designer.
Bareiss, of Newton, is married to a metalsmith. Christopher Bareiss was demonstrating embossing metal in the Peter’s Valley tent, and Eliza was showing off the finished products.
Many of the pieces had ocean themes, such as an octopus, seahorses, starfish and angel fish. This may have been a trend, since the glass jewelry of David Licata also displayed ocean themes and colors.
Eliza said the graphic design component of architecture made the leap to jewelry design not so large. She started making things for gifts, then decided to sell them. The Bareisses have items in the Peter’s Valley store and Christopher takes classes there every year.
Woodworkers and other artists also set up tables in the tent and all attracted many visitors as they allowed people to try their hand at their crafts.