The Silicon Valley Voice

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39th Santa Clara Art & Wine Festival Sparkles Like Champagne

Santa Clara’s 39th Art & Wine Festival sparkled like champagne over the sunny Sept. 14 and 15 weekend. Its 52-acre Central Park venue continues as one of the loveliest art and wine festival settings in Silicon Valley.

Santa Clara resident Karen Jackson attended Saturday with friends.

“I come every year,” said Jackson. “The art is the whole thing — all the booths — plus the atmosphere, food, beer, music. You run into people you know. It’s like a reunion.”


More than 160 artists’ booths were set amidst mature redwoods and overlooking small lakes with water fountains. The booths lined the curved walkways of Central Park, each packed with unique, handmade arts and crafts.

Santa Claran Diana Plumb was attracted to a pair of earrings by Featherweight Finery jewelry maker Sue Toorans ( Toorans makes jewelry from anodized aluminum chain links in eye-catching bold colors.

Toorans created a new robot earring design using repurposed knitting needles and says that her jewelry is “fun, very affordable, elegant enough for a night on the town and comfortable enough to wear all day.”

She began Featherweight Finery 10 years ago after a jewelry-making class she was scheduled to teach got cancelled. To use up the class supplies she had purchased, Toorans made the jewelry herself and sold it, turning a disappointment into a business.

Richard and Diane McUne from Cashmere, Washington, sold hardened and tempered, crystal glass nail files at their McUnes Creative Side booth ( Richard McUne hand paints a design on each file, adding beauty to usefulness.

“We’re retired, and we’ve been doing this for almost 12 years. You get too bored sitting around,” said Diane McCune. “We wanted to travel, and this is our travel. It keeps us happy.”

The McUnes import the files from the Czech Republic, which is known for its crystal. The files never wear out — a boost for the environment.

The couple said that some files from China are labeled crystal glass. However, they are really just soft, untempered glass.

“I’m going to jail next week,” joked festival attendee Eric West, passing by the McUnes’ booth. “I need a file.”

“We don’t plan on it, but we always end up buying something,” he said.

Michael and Stacey Ferreira bought a cork bottle stopper with a decorative enamel and wood top from vendor Fred Albrecht from Santa Rosa ( The couple is attracted to quality products that are a good value and have an emotional tug.

“This is the best purchase and value I’ve had all year,” said Ferreira. “For $19.50, I have a wine stopper that lasts forever. Plus, the guy had personality. How do you not support a vendor with personality?”

Three Angels Soap (, using all natural ingredients, stood out because of its artistic shapes and designs — frosted and decorated cupcakes, cheesecake wedges and fudge slabs with swirled colors.

“Is this soap?” is the first question people ask when they see the edible-looking soaps.

Soap maker Diane Washington spent a year attending soap-making and cake-decorating classes before launching her business six years ago from her home in San Jose.

She uses a cold process method that allows her “to play with color.” She also plays with soap consistency to allow her to decorate the soap like decorating a cake with frosting.

“It’s like a chemistry experiment,” said Washington, who works full-time as a registered nurse and first started making pure soap to help her grandkids combat eczema.

Nitha Swanson is the creative designer and seamstress behind the fabric tote bags and mythical creations at the Dragon Flame Shop (  She and her husband, Ed Swanson, from Orange County, have been in business about 15 years.

“It’s a retirement business. It’s our fun to keep us busy,” said Nitha Swanson. “We make product during the week and work weekends at shows. It’s like a working vacation.”

Their stuffed creatures — dragons, mermaids, dachshunds, snakes and more — are filled either with nontoxic birdseed or sand.

“I watch TV and sew. If I don’t have anything in my hand, I fall asleep,” said Nitha Swanson. “When you do things like this, you have to like it. It’s my hobby and extra income.”

As shoppers made their final purchases before the festival ended at 6 p.m., the Spazmatics band played their closing tunes from the Pavilion Stage.

“Thank you, San Jose!” the Spazmatics shouted several times to the crowded pavilion of dancers and onlookers. And nobody seemed to care that the band forgot where it was.


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