AthFest artisans

Scenes from day 2 of AthFest in Athens, Georgia on Saturday, June 22, 2019. Festival-goers could enjoy food, music, activities, and an art market. (Photo/Caroline Barnes,

Music wasn’t the only thing flooding the streets of AthFest as several talented artisans set up shop in white tents to offer their art, jewelry, clothes and even soy candles. Behind the scenes, these artisans — some new, some old, some Athenians, some foreigners — spent hours upon hours in preparation for the festivities.

One such artisan was Kimberly Dawn Crowder, owner of KDC Arts, who came from Savannah, Georgia, to sell her folk art. Folk art, as Crowder describes, emphasizes having no rules, drawing from your surrounding and teaching yourself.

However, Crowder had sold out at two recent shows before AthFest and was indisposed while visiting family. With only a week before AthFest, she got to work.

“I painted every minute of every day — and night,” Crowder said.

During that week, Crowder created 65 medium-sized paintings. Not sacrificing quality in her frenzy, her efforts paid off as festival-goers were trying to buy her art as she was setting up her tent.

Another booth that drew such attention was Kelly and Spencer Shull’s art business — Jellykoe. Just as their company’s name is a combination of Kelly and Spencer’s first name, Joe, the couple combines Kelly’s sowing and Spencer’s drawing to sell a variety of prints and sewn plushies. The two came all the way for Columbia, South Carolina, for their 6th AthFest.

“We expected a lot of families and a lot of college-aged students,” Kimberly said. “We have a lot of fans because we’ve been doing this for so long. We get a lot of return custumers.”

In preparation for new and returning customers, the pair created new, original art and introduced custom vinyl toys and mystery packs — small boxes filled with their art.

The two artists weren’t the only vendors from South Carolina, as the owners of Curio Artisans and Jess Ann Jewelry and Design carpooled together from Charleston, Sout Carolina, and set up their tents next to each other for this year’s AthFest.

Although owner Jess Ann Smith has traveled to music festivals, farmers markets and other venues before, this was her first AthFest.

Using various tools, Smith specializes in silversmithing, metalsmithing, soldering and enameling (the process of melting glass over) various pieces of jewelry for her business, such as necklaces, earrings and rings. For AthFest, Smith produced several pieces of jewelry.

Coming into AthFest, Smith confided in Curio Artisans owner Gwen Watt, explaining how nervous she was about the outcome of this even. Those feelings were quickly dispelled after Smith sold so many rings during first day that she had to wake up early the next morning and make more rings.

“I’ve done a lot of music festivals where people aren’t really into art, they just kind of look. But this one, everyone seems really into art,” Smith said.

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