MANKATO — Steven Weagel has a long-time system for packing, transporting and unpacking his fragile blown glass artwork for shows.
“I go to hotel sales and buy all their bedspreads and quilts and use them to pack around everything. It’s the best way I’ve found. Moving this stuff is scary,” said Weagel, who was at the GSR Fine Art Festival at the civic center Saturday.
Originally from Mankato and now living near Pequot Lakes, he has traveled to the Mankato show for the last six years. “It’s always been a good show. Mankato has been good to me for sales.”
A welder by trade, Weagel makes intricate steel stands for lamps that are topped with thick, colorful blown glass. He does the welding in a shop by his home and does his glass blowing in rented space in a St. Paul glass studio.
“It’s a combination of sculpture and glass. And light and glass go together so well,” he said of his table and floor lamps.
His daughter, Alicia, was also on hand selling her blown glass Christmas ornaments and paper weights.
Potter Kevin Caufield, of St. Paul, was also selling at the show for his sixth year in a row.
“It’s always been a good, steady show, depending on the weather.”
He’s done pottery for 40 years and has a studio and gallery where he also offers classes.
Caufield said his plates with melted glass infused in them are good sellers. And fountains inside pottery bowls are big. “Fountains were really popular 25 years ago and then fell off and now they’re back again. The trends always go in cycles.”
Lolly Hinkle of Feather Stone Jewelry is one of the founders of the show, which celebrated its 17th season this year. She and a few other artists started the show at the former Harpie’s Bazaar in Old Town.
She has a studio at her North Mankato home and offers classes in mixed metal jewelry.
“This has always been a good show. It’s the only one I do now,” Hinkle said.
The art festival ran in conjunction with Saturday’s Shop Small event, bringing more more than 50 visual artists to display and sell their work. The show continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The festival is a juried show. During the summer artists submit an application with photos of their work.
Next door, inside the civic center, the Magical Merry Mankato Craft & Gift Expo ran Saturday only.
Lori Davies had her Sweet Surprises booth set up, selling made-from-scratch treats.
“I have 30 types of homemade truffles, caramels and assorted deluxe chocolates.”
Three years ago she got her Minnesota cottage food license and bakes the treats out of her home in Farmington.
“With the cottage license I’m able to work out of my home, so I can keep the prices affordable,” Davies said.
“I’ve been doing this for 26 years and just gave them away. My friends said I needed to start selling them. It’s been great. I always sell out and I get corporate orders. It’s really taken off.”