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Local artists set to exhibit at Arts Fest

by Art Goldschmidt

Work by Kimberly Brooks-Filkins

Work by Kimberly Brooks-Filkins

The Arts Fest is an occasion for people living in the Centre region to wander among booths filled with art objects, see returning friends and listen to a variety of musicians. It is also an opportunity for artists and artisans, who come from places near and far, to display and hopefully sell their wares.
Some exhibit their work only at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. But most exhibit at various arts festivals during the warmer months, some even all year round.
All labor for long hours to hone their skills and to produce the art work that you will see during Arts Fest.
Voices visited three local presenters who are veteran exhibitors at the Arts Fest and other venues: Kimberly Brooks-Filkins (“Kim”) of State College, Elizabeth Hay of Bellefonte, and Bill Seay of Spring Mills.
Kimberly Brooks-Filkins
Kim fuses glass to create whimsical, yet functional, works of art, such as plates, vases, and wall-hangings. The glass is purchased in sheets of varying thickness, crushed glass (called “frit”), powdered glass, thin rods (“stringers”), and tiny shards. It may be opaque, transparent, iridized (having a tin coating that may appear silver or gold, or show a rainbow transition to purple, blue, and green), or dichroic (having thin layers of metallic oxides that have been deposited on its surface at a high temperature).
She cuts, shapes, and melts her glass in a kiln designed especially for glass, the working temperature of which must be midway between hot (used for glass blowing) and cold (used for stained glass). Pieces of glass may then be fused together in a kiln set to around 1500 degrees. She may also slump the glass, using a mold to shape already colored glass in a kiln and to create three dimensional objects.
These processes call for patience, experience, and tolerance of occasional failures. Each piece must be carefully designed, colored, and tested to make sure the process will succeed. Many pieces break during the cooling process.
“It seems like an explosion,” she remarked, “when you open the kiln.”
She never throws away even the tiniest piece of glass, because she might later find a use for it. Indeed, her work space contains lots of shards, in addition to a great variety of cutting tools, molds, and an immense kiln.
Brooks-Filkins fell in love with glass because of its reflective qualities and its elegance. Self-trained, she learned how to handle glass from reading books and magazine articles, but mainly from trial and error. She used to give her glass products away to friends and family members, but they encouraged her to improve her work and start exhibiting and selling her wares.
Brooks-Filkins has sold her work at the Arts Fest for six years, but also at the Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State and in Lemont’s Gallery Shop. In addition, she has exhibited at the Three Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburgh, the Harrisburg Artsfest, and the Mount Gretna Outdoor Art Show.
Elizabeth Hay

Photo by Art Goldschmidt. Work by Elizabeth Hay.

Elizabeth Hay creates silver jewelry. She began making jewelry about seven years ago because she couldn’t find any pieces that she wanted to wear. Also a gardener, she is especially drawn to jewelry based on leaves and flowers, influenced by Victorian and art nouveau styles. Except for a few weekend classes, she has learned her art by experimentation.
She starts with a flat sheet of silver, which she cuts with scissors and then hammers and shapes it. The process also involves much delicate incising with hand tools and soldering delicate silver wire. She likes to work in spurts, but sometimes spends long hours in preparing her pieces, especially in the six weeks prior to the Arts Fest. She does not teach any students, and her production does not yet suffice to make her self-supporting, but her work is available in Lemont’s Gallery Shop, or can be purchased online. She and her husband are also restoring their Victorian house to its former splendor.
This year will be the fourth in which Elizabeth has exhibited her jewelry at the Arts Fest. She and her husband have also sold her work in Bedford’s Fall Foliage Festival, the Winter Craft Market at Mt. Nittany Middle School, and fairs sponsored by the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen. They display and sell her work at about twelve festivals on average each year.
Bill Seay
Bill Seay was trained as a biologist and worked for many years as an environmental engineer. In midlife, he decided to leave his profession and to devote his time and energy to woodworking. He has built his workshop in a large shed behind his house near Spring Mills. There he uses both power and hand tools to create pieces of furniture, often on commission from patrons who are familiar with his work.
His booth will contain sculpture and many other objects made from wood, including tables, a blanket chest, and a floor lamp.
His interest in woodworking began with a shop class that he took in seventh grade, and it was a hobby long before he made it his profession. He has learned many of his techniques and draws some of his ideas from a monthly magazine, Fine Woodworking.

Photo by Art Goldschmidt. Chari by William Seay.

This year will be Bill’s seventh at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. He has also exhibited at the Winter Craft Market in Mount Nittany Middle School and at the Pennsylvania State Museum in Harrisburg.
Much labor and love goes into individually crafted art objects such as these. Many other booths, various other types of artistry and artisanship, and lots of interesting artists will be there at the Arts Fest. Don’t miss it.











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