It's been two years in a row that I've been shooting photos at Artsfair, the weekend-long artist streetfair that literally takes over downtown Bellevue. It's actually like a trifecta of art festivals, as there's a couple of smaller ones that run adjacent, but Artsfair is the main attraction, giving space to over a hundred different vendors, both local and out of state, offering them the opportunity to chat with the crowds and sell their unique hand-crafted goods directly to the public. Sponsored by the Bellevue Arts Museum, this festival has been going on for several years, it always happens towards the end of summer and inevitably, fortune tends to smile down upon this weekend with good weather.

The Bird was on shutterbug duty on Friday, the opening day of the festival, and it was a great opportunity to not only capture fun moments, like the artists being selected to win a special award, or the kids doing crafts and making little derby cars, but you wander through every row of artist booths, so you literally see everything. These are the days you put your walking shoes on, as you're on your feet for hours, no time to rest, as there's always something happening that you want to take a photo of. It's one of those days where you break for lunch at 4pm and don't realize how long you've been up and running!

Despite it being summer, I totally have the holidays on the Jaunty Brain. Sure, you could buy your gifts online, head to a shopping mall or just send a gift card, but how fantastic is it to talk to the person who made the jewelry or sewed the article of clothing? You get a story with each piece and make a connection with the artist. There's artists of all sorts, from two dimensional, to textiles, to jewelry. A lot of the two dimensional artists sell smaller prints of their work, so you don't have to buy the original piece to take a bit of the experience home with you. I personally got several prints from a couple of artists as gifts -- Diane Archer and Cori Dantini -- they're like little treasures you share with someone special. And of course I browsed the jewelers' tables. So many to choose from. I had to go with the sustainability of Kathleen Plate's Smart Glass Jewelry -- she makes beautiful, organic looking jewelry from reclaimed soda and wine bottles, plus incredible chandeliers, which you can see one in the photos above. I also couldn't resist picking up a little something whimsical and lovely from Della Goheen Millinery for an upcoming birthday gift. Why no photos of the goods? Because they're all gifts and it's just getting too close to birthdays and holidays to spoil everything, of course! But please check out their links and blogs. I think you'll find their work as charming, personal and unique as I did.

There were so many artists I wanted to support, but my little bird budget could only stretch so far. However, these artists made the cut and I'm looking forward to passing along these finds to lucky loved ones this year. Take this to heart and consider shopping at a local arts and crafts fair, or pick some favorite artists on Etsy for your special occasion shopping. It's never too early to get your holiday shopping done and there's always a birthday or special occasion on the horizon, so why not make the gift extra-special for that extra-special person?

Jaunty Fine Print:  photographs by Denise Sakaki

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