Wreath fest draws array of crafters

A five-day silent auction fundraiser is to feature 230 creations for holidays

November 26, 2006|By Nora Koch | Nora Koch,special to the sun

On the sample board of a glass tile product line, Martha Bubert saw the colors of sunlight reflecting off snow.

For months, the Westminster artist, who is a designer for a downtown flooring store, collected the 1-inch tiles that would otherwise be discarded, storing them in a kitchen drawer at home.

This fall, when she began to work on a handcrafted holiday wreath, Bubert dumped out a rainbow of 900 tiles on her dining room table and spent hours arranging an inspired tile mosaic called "Winter Reflections."

Bubert's finished work will be on display this week in the Carroll County Arts Council's ninth Festival of Wreaths, a five-day silent auction fundraiser featuring 230 creations by local artists and businesses.

Last year's festival raised almost $19,000, said Executive Director Sandy Oxx, who in 1998 started the festival that has become the arts council's biggest annual fundraiser.

Over the years, the festival has grown to include more wreaths, this year reaching the capacity of the center's walls at 230.

Wreath donors

Wreath donors -- some, like Bubert, who spend time painstakingly designing and creating their project -- are divided among local businesses and individuals, and decorate their creations with everything from hand-forged ironworks to $100 bills.

"Everyone from a Girl Scout troop to a world-class artist can participate," Oxx said. "That's the beauty of the festival."

Winning bids tend to start around $25 for some wreaths, with a few going for $500 and $1,000, Oxx said. The open silent auction ends at 4 p.m. Dec. 3, with the wreath going to the highest bidder.

The "Winter Reflections" wreath is Bubert's fifth contribution to the festival, created in connection with her job as an interior designer at Mercer Carpet One in Westminster.

Her past creations -- all displayed in the store because the business owner has always been determined to make the winning bid -- are tile mosaics with holiday themes.

"I actually tried to do one out of carpet, but it didn't work," said Bubert, who graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art. This year's glass mosaic wreath, which measures 28 inches across and includes a mirror in the center, is more artistic than her wreaths from holidays past, Bubert said.

This summer, she started collecting the opaque and iridescent tiles from the demonstration boards that the store planned to discard because the product went out of production.

Glass mosaic

When Bubert, who last made a festival wreath in 2002, decided to participate this year, she pulled out the tiles and decided to design a glass mosaic wreath inspired by light bouncing off snow.

"It's challenging to come up with a different idea," Bubert said. "The first year, I just went right to the red and green and holly and poinsettia. Now I have to think outside of the box -- er, the circle."

Oxx predicts that some of this year's other hits will be what she calls "fantasy wreaths," a collection that includes a decorated bicycle posing as a double wreath, donated by Mount Airy Bicycles, and the "12 Days of Dining" wreath that comes with gift certificates to a dozen Carroll County restaurants.

Another fantasy wreath, donated by Munch's Cafe, comes with a naming opportunity for a sandwich on the menu of the Westminster eating place.

"You'll be immortalized in cold cuts," Oxx said.

The arts council also contributed several wreaths, including a package that offers a private Super Bowl party at the arts center catered by Harry's Main Street Grille, and another featuring a children's birthday party with a movie screening at the arts center.

Other wreaths are decorative or thematic, such as the creation submitted by Change Inc., the Westminster organization that provides services for individuals with developmental disabilities. The wreath is decorated with coins, a play on the organization's name.

"They said, `Do you think anyone will bid?'" Oxx recalled, dismissing their concern because she thought their wreath was particularly beautiful.

Carroll County Arts Council's ninth Annual Festival of Wreaths opens at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main St., and runs through Dec. 3. Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 3. Bidding ends at 4 p.m. Dec. 3. Information: 410-848-7272.

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