Why is Laguna Beach the place to be for artists? It's expensive and full of traffic and visitors. It's also home to 37 beaches, miles of conservation land, and has maintained its old surf town vibe from 50+ years ago.
Allow myself to introduce, myself. My name is Richie Cunningham. Okay no. Allow us both, to introduce you to the Enchanted Forest table base.
When Christian shared his new idea with me, my first thought was, "GREAT, HOW HEAVY WILL THIS BE!?" My second thought was, this is quite the departure from the usual beach vibe. Would he care to share these thoughts with me, you, anyone who cares?
Let's look at it first.
Did you take it all in? It's pretty cool. Let's talk about Christian's inspiration for it. Turns out it has nothing to do with me, a trip he took with me, or anything about me. So there's that. However he was inspired by my favorite state, so things are looking up.
Back in March I believe it was, he took a trip out to Park City, Utah with his bro Ben and their friends Colin and Michelle. They were skiing at Brighton and he came across an old Bristlecone pine. He claims it could have been about 5,000 years old. Now after a quick and highly reputable google search on Wikipedia (har har) turns out the OLDEST of these trees are 5,000 years old. So chances are, it wasn't that old. Maybe it was. Who cares, it was old. And he was inspired. Let's throw some images in here to get inspired ourselves.
After having some convos regarding the new piece and understanding where Christian is coming from, turns out he still has a soft spot in his heart for trees and things not covered in sand or ocean water. Christian grew up in Wisconsin and then spent 15 more cold years in Massachusetts. Despite his strong dislike for snow and cold climates, he loves the woods. And might I add, I hear ya barkin.
I believe we both have an even stronger appreciation for vast land covered in trees after living in Orange County for almost two years now. We're lucky we live in this weird lil canyon with it's own weird lil climate and a quick 800' foot climb up the canyon wall and down the other side will bring you to wooded areas. But even that you know on the other side is a sea of cement and people. So many people! We both enjoy an escape out to Rancho Santa Margarita and this hidden teeny tiny town of Silverado which is in the woods and so secluded, there is only one way in and out. I digress.
Christian loves the woods. He loves trees. We've seen his table designs with the heaviest slabs of burl. Now he's making the entire piece more organic. Or maybe not. Maybe a huge slab of iron will sit on top of this tree trunk? Or glass and you light up the bottom? Cast in point (at right). The great thing about this new piece is that it can be anything. I am excited to use one as a planter. Love me a good planter!!! It could also be a floor lamp base, a lamp post, end table or dining table. Sky's the limit. And don't even get me started on the custom etching possibilities and patinas. Whew... you're welcome.
I'm sure you'll see a whole lot more about this enchanted lil guy on Drake Casting Co's Instagram and FB. Til then...
Christian took it up a few notches for the summer show with this "showstopper".
TA-DA! It's fun to watch the growth and evolving styles of this guy just over the past two years. Remember, he used to be an antique dealer and now he's an artist. I must adjust.
Our friend and canyon neighbor John and his family own West Coast Arborists up in Ontario, CA. He hooked up christian with a big hunk'a curly red wood.
After slicing up that bad boy, the whole thing gets sanded like a mother. Lil holes are found throughout the wood, which is why the tree was taking down in the first place. This could be seen as a flaw, or as an opportunity to do something RAD. (Rad Racer? One of my top five Nintendo games) Christian got a whole bunch of turquoise, drilled out the holes a bit more, and filled them with the stones.
Now this is the part I love(hate). The giant slab gets dragged to our back room where nobody is allowed because he will cover the whole dang table in 3-4 coats of a resin. Each layer must dry completely before the next is applied.
So if you're pickin up what I'm puttin down and you know that our back door to the laundry is in this room—I have to walk around the whole house to do the laundry. My life is so hard.
A million hours later the piece is finally dry and I can resume my usual laundry tasks. Until the next slab arrives.
IS IT DONE?
No! Now the legs have to be prepared! The classic Drake design and color are picked for this piece. Each leg gets sanded down, painted, lettered, and sealed. We'll save that process for another day.
BUT IT'S STILL NOT DONE!
Four slabs were created with this same process, two for the table and two for the benches. Two slabs for the table means something cool is about to happen down the center of these slabs...
Why not a succulent garden surrounded by moss and stones!? It can be changed up for holidays, if you're into that sorta thing, or go nuts with the succulents and let them go on with their bad selves.
Now it is complete and was brought to Sawdust and... sold! He built this bad boy twice and sold them both. Now we just need one more for our dining room... wink wink.
Sawdust is, like, pretty cool. I've never seen anything else like it, but then again I didn't grow up here and I find myself being confused by a lot of California norms. Not in a bad way. It's more like, "Am I in a different country?" Maybe that just means I spent way too much time in New England? I get made fun of for my use of the word, sneakers. Nobody calls them sneakers here! What the heck!? I digress.
Given the major transitions over the past two years, Sawdust has provided a small community for us and it makes the big, insanely populated metropolis of Orange County feel like home. Quite frankly, it makes neither of us ever want to drive beyond the confines of Laguna Beach. And why would anyone? IT IS SO NICE ALL YEAR LONG WITH MILES OF SANDY BEACHES... and a million restaurants, beautiful sunsets, small population, and a huge dog park for my fur child. But let me get back on track.
You could just visit Sawdust's website and read about the history of the festival but what could be more compelling than one of my nutshelled stories?
History Lessons by Katie
The festival started in 1966, making this year their 51st show which I feel is pretty impressive. The reason it started is because across the street, Festival of the Arts (a juried show that began in 1932) rejected a bunch of artists from the show in 1966. They decided to start their own show and prove to those fancy artists across the way that they embodied the true artist spirit and would not be rejected from showing their art to the world. After several years of changing locations, new leadership, yada yada yada... they got their show underway and became known as Sawdust Arts and Crafts Festival. Some of the original gangsters are still here!
What you won't find on the official website are the O.G.'s stories of turning to art to get away from LSD, Orange Sunshine, and the brotherhood of eternal love. We've all heard stories here and there, or maybe watched a movie about Timothy Leary, but to meet these people is something else. They were part of this famed drug movement and really, just wanted to spread love, man! Peace, love, happiness, and VW bugs. But wait, this is real! They lived it and survived it, and are now part of yet another historical movement—SAWDUST! I could never be so cool.
So now it's 2017 and it's our first show and we're not even from the West coast, or even anywhere close to it. But these 209 artists have taken us in, accepted us as east coasters and midwesterners (don'tcha'know) like we had been here all along. And so back to my first (or second) question: why do we talk about it so much? Now you know. It is the reason we moved here, on a wing and a prayer, and it has proven to be a WICKED FUN TIME! Besides my heartfelt explanation of providing us with a sense of community, it is also hoppin' all summer long.
Art, Music, and Booze
In addition to the 200 booths full of arts and crafts, there are three separate stages with live music on constant rotation. There are various restaurants on the grounds including our fav G.G.'s Mediterranean (yummo), a saloon to loosen up those pockets, and on weekends when the super, super awesome bands play, there's lots of dancing! Locals come every weekend just to hang.
But What Else?
So there are cool things happening, but what else makes it cool? I will tell you. Every summer the whole show is rebuilt and will look different every year because each artist designs and builds their own booth. Drake Casting Co's booth is like a mile high. Not really, but it is 16 feet tall. Other booths have lofts and hiding areas (check out Walter) or crazy roofs. A couple have trees straight through them. And of course the entire grounds are covered in wood chips, aka sawdust.
I guess you have to be here to get the full experience. Better hurry 'cause it closes next weekend! Don't worry Winterfest is right around the corner...