Other radio stations should have it so good. Twice a year, profits from the KPFA CRAFTS FAIR supplement operational costs for this popular Berkeley community radio station. So, we’re talking about 200 artists, working in all media, surrounded by entertainment, food vendors, and great people-watching.
The Tango Diva team was overwhelmed.
How do we pick out a couple of artists to highlight with all this talent? After many sleepless afternoons, we finally agreed on “Plan B”; stand in front of the artist directory with closed eyes and point.
PLUM BLOSSOM FARM
We caught up with Carole, the farm’s founder and sole proprietor, who successfully re-invented her life after job burnout, combining her love of animals and creating art.
Q. What came first, the sheep or the art? (sorry, had to say it)
A: The art came first I suppose, but the sheep came along quickly after, and were always part of the plan, really my favorite part of the plan!
Q. What was your inspiration for the farm?
A. I have always felt a deep connection to animals and wanted to work closely with them in a way that was respectful, and a way that honored them.
Q. How do you do all this?
A. Every year is a little different because of hay prices, vet bills, etc., but I can say, if it came down to it, the animals would get to eat before I did!
Q. Who lives on the farm?
A. I have 27 sheep, 14 ducks, 20 chickens, 2 house dogs, a handsome cat, and one person, me :)
Q. Tell us about what you make.
A. Plum Blossom Farm’s website has all my felted soap, beauty products, scarves, home accessories and cat toys. The wall hangings are best seen in person, as they are handmade and custom designed. Sponsorships fund the sheep of your choice for one month to a year, or more. In return, I offer the sheep’s story and photo, along with some felted goodies. This is a popular gift item. It really brings someone closer to the animal and the daily life on the farm.
Q. How did you get started with felting?
A. It was really in preparation for the sheep that I started playing with fiber arts. I began with dyeing wool and mohair. I have dabbled in pinning, knitting and crocheting, but found my home with felting. Felting is so forgiving, and allows a lot of freedom. One’s creativity is the limit with felting, as almost anything is possible. I love it, especially because of the textures and warmth of the fibers. It’s all a tribute to the sheep that grew the wool, making it all the more special and meaningful.
Q. What kind of art did you make before felting?
A. I have played with oil painting and clay for years, but I feel connected to fiber arts, especially felting.
Q. Where are you from? How long in Sonoma?
A. I grew up in Benicia. Sonoma County has been home for 8 years, before that, 2 years in Healdsburg, 6 in Cloverdale.
Q. If money wasn’t an issue, what would be your dream outcome for the farm?
A. I would continue as I am, adopting sheep and giving them a safe and loving home for the rest of their days. In the meantime, I see myself using their fiber to create more functional and beautiful pieces. The buyer gets a lovingly crafted item and a feel-good buzz. It is an all-around beneficial process that way. A cycle of love.
Q. Any shout-outs?
A. Thanks to Jan Etre and the KPFA FAIR crew for being so supportive and organized, which makes for a lovely event, artisans and visitors alike!
Who created this palace of pastry perfection?
First there was Onie, born at home in Berkeley, California. Her love of travel brought her to Ecuador, France, and Spain, before graduating from Columbia University with a degree in Comparative Religion. After graduation, it was back to France and cooking school, interning with highly acclaimed chefs, confectioners, and vintners.
Circling back to the Bay Area, Onie spent two years working as a line cook before choosing to pursue a culinary degree in Baking and Pastry at The Culinary Institute of America in the Napa Valley. Back again to Germany, working in a specialty bakery. But wait, there’s more, two rigorous internships in France. Not too shabby, learning by the sides of renown chocolatier Bernachon in Lyon, and M.O.F. Pastry Chef Laurent Le Daniel in Rennes. Onie’s creations show her strong belief in the environmental, “farm to table” ideology.
Returning to San Francisco in 2001, Onie launched her artisan bakery, featuring fine chocolate, pastry, and high-end catering.
From her small studio in Monte Rio, CA, Kristin Thurman designs custom upholstery and cushions, making them from her collection of beautiful fabric remnants and upcycled materials.
She especially loves designing custom Zafus.
What is a Zafu?
Glad you asked. It’s a small round cushion, traditionally used for centuries in zen meditation. Kristin explains that the modern zafu can moonlight for yoga and interior design. Nothing is stopping you from using your zafu for meditation, followed by TV watching, maybe even an impromptu table for snacks.
So call already. Keep in mind it’s Pacific Daylight Time in Monte Rio.
Video by Mark Day
KPFA Crafts Fair
Artists are standing by in virtual galleries 24/7.