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Sawdust Art Festival

Learn about a California event that has been around for over 40 years and has something for everyone.

The first Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach was held in a vacant lot along the Pacific Coast Highway in 1966; admission was a mere 25 cents. The original artists who ran the festival, which remains artist-run, put sawdust on the pathways between exhibitors to keep the dust at bay. Thus the name, and tradition, was born.

This year, nearly 120,000 pounds of sawdust blankets the way between 195 artists spread across three acres, representing all mediums: painters, ceramists, glassblowers, metalworkers, jewelers, textile artists, and more. The booths are built by the artists, which creates a village of varied styles like a miniature city with its own colorful neighborhoods. However, the art isn’t the only attraction; the real treat are the live glass blowing, paint/printmaking, and ceramics demonstrations on site...or if you’re under 13, the children’s booth. In fact, the sawdust has one of the only fused-glass kilns on public view in the country. As a nonprofit organization for the arts, the Sawdust exists to support the Laguna Beach art community and to further art education amongst children. It is definitely a family affair.

Set amidst a eucalyptus grove with two waterfalls, the festival has been an inspiration for many artists as they work from their booths. Some furniture-making craftsmen have even been known to use the yearly eucalyptus clippings for their wares. We’ll meet Mark Blumenfeld, a ceramist who has "grown up" with the Sawdust Festival, being involved since its second year. Plus we’ll hear a bit about the process of putting on this elaborate show from a current board director, metalsmith Drew Weir. Naturally, we’ll visit the booths of a few choice artists in different mediums and get "mini-profiles" with them and their art. Most artisans have a workspace of some kind in the booth, so there's plenty of demonstrations to be seen.

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