Devin Mack was in a figurative drawing class at Ithaca College more than a decade ago when his professor handed him a roll of wire and said, "Here, make a figurative drawing out of this."
Mack, who was studying cinema and photography at the school, made his first sculpture and took the first step into a career. Today he continues to make wire sculpture "large and small" out of everything from coat hangers to precious metal.
Indeed, probably one of his best known sculptures is a 12-foot-tall honeybee outside of Baltimore Honey, a community-supported apiary in Woodberry. Mack has also crafted silver jellyfish, copper trees, whimsical flowers and stretching acrobats — sculptures with amazing detail that evoke nature even though they were created with a manmade medium.
Art lovers who attend the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival at the Timonium Fairgrounds April 25-27 will get a chance to see Mack's work and that of two other artists who live or create in the Towson area, among the 250 artisans displaying creations in pottery, sculpture, glass, jewelry, fashion, home décor, furniture and home accessories, items for the garden and photography.
Mack, who has a studio in Remington and lives in Towson, said one sculpture can take anywhere from an afternoon to months to create. Some of it, like a silver flower medallion with a black coiled center, is wearable.
His work is on sale at the gift shops at the Baltimore Museum of Art and the American Visionary Art Museum, but he often attends festivals like Sugarloaf. There, he enjoys seeing art buyers face to face.
"I am very fond of putting smiles on people's faces and my work tends to do that," Mack said.
If Mack's work moves people to grin, Kimberley Rigby's chocolate creations please their palates. The owner of Parfections gourmet chocolate store in Cockeysville will bring a selection of goodies to the festival including her popular bacon sea salt bark and a new line of fresh herb truffles that pair basil and lime or tarragon and strawberry.
Rigby, who lives in Reisterstown, worked in corporate sales for 20 years before she decided to start her own event-planning business. When she met with potential clients, it became her practice to bring a plate of chocolates. Soon enough, clients started asking for those truffles and other sweet delicacies. Rigby, a self-taught candy maker, realized her real business potential was in those bowls of chocolate she was stirring.
More than three years ago, she opened her store on York Road where she frequently hosts wine and chocolate pairings, or beer and chocolate pairings, as well as a chocolate-of-the-month club, and special services for weddings and other occasions.
Then there are the truffles — the tropical typhoon has mango and a hit of cayenne pepper. The Mediterranean madness has hints of grape and cherry in dark chocolate combined with balsamic vinegar. There's a chai latte, a tequila and lime and a honeycomb. The espresso needs no explanation.
"I really like the creative side, developing flavors," Rigby said. "It's been fun working with liquor and beer distributors to develop new flavors, too. Everyone is kind of happy when they have chocolate and wine."
While Rigby hopes to fill your plate, Towson artist Patrick Reid O'Brien creates paintings and lithographs that he hopes will give their owners a "visual memory snapshot of how we remember our best times."
O'Brien will be at the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival with his My Town Art Collection, paintings of beach-goers and boaters and vacation scenes that elicit a sigh for their peacefulness and beauty. His lithographs also can be personalized with family names or other details.
"This work tells the story of what we do as Americans when we are not working," said O'Brien, whose art is in galleries from California to Florida to Ocean City and Annapolis. O'Brien has also been commissioned to create a painting for the Kentucky Derby. Locally, Greetings and Readings sells his lithographs. In addition, O'Brien and his wife, Valerie Heneberry, have a gallery and boutique in Towson, V Fashion Towson/My Town Art.
At a recent show in Myrtle Beach, S.C., a series of O'Brien's paintings drew the attention of the marketing manager for Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, which now sells his work. This was an achievement that O'Brien was particularly proud of, because he liked the paintings so much himself.
Each one says, "Life has many paths to choose. I always seem to choose the ones that lead to the beach," although a few substitute the word "boat" for "beach."
"I like what it says. I like the color of it and I like the feel of it," said O'Brien.
The Sugarloaf Crafts Festival takes place April 25-27 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds, Timonium. Friday and Saturday hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition to the work of artisans, the show will feature food, music and children's entertainment. Adults $8 online; $10 door; children younger than 12 are free. Go to sugarloafcrafts.com or call 800-210-9900.