When the Dublin Irish Festival returns Aug. 4-6 in Coffman Park, visitors will have the opportunity to shop for the perfect bit of Irish-inspired whimsy.
This year, Sean Berton of Sean's Celtic Creations will be one of the vendors returning to the Emerald Arts Isle at the festival.
The festival will feature more than 90 individual vendors in the Marketplace and the Emerald Arts Isle.
The Marketplace is spread throughout the Festival in areas named after famous shopping districts in Dublin, Ireland, such as Grafton Street, the Temple Bar District and O'Connell Street. Vendors will be selling a variety of items from T-shirts to jewelry to glassware and more.
The Emerald Arts Isle welcomes artisans from throughout the world offering unique, handmade art.
Berton, a Berkeley, California resident, crafts jewelry based on traditional Celtic imagery.
He shared with the ThisWeek Dublin Villager a bit about what drew him to his craft and what he enjoys most about visiting the festival.
Question: This year you'll be returning to the Irish Festival as an Emerald Arts Isle vendor selling hand-crafted Celtic jewelry. What inspired you to pursue jewelry making, particularly in the Celtic style?
Answer: As a 24 year old from the northwest, I found myself traveling the U.S. and ending up on Nantucket Island peering out across the water for a glimpse of Ireland, home of my maternal roots.
In a bold moment, I decided to visit the Emerald Isle with a modicum of cash, a backpack, tent and a spirit for adventure.
The stories of that trip were numerous and connective in many ways, culminating in a visit to Trinity College in Dublin upon the advice of an Irish friend. The devotion and intricacy of the work I saw there was of the life-changing variety.
Following the sad farewells of that journey, I arrived back in the states with new possibilities to explore in the realm of art, jewelry and symbolic expression.
How long have you been making jewelry? What do you enjoy most about it?
I have been making jewelry since high school in the '70s in a wide variety of forms and styles.
Although I have created everything from 500-square-foot brick sculptures to hand-crafted musical instruments and knives, my passion for jewelry became my artistic expression of choice over time.
The main element in Celtic art that inspires me is the symbolic content and connection of this genre. Jewelry is perfect for this type of personal expression for folks to wear in the real world as an extension of their beliefs, genealogy and other personal themes.
This is very rewarding to be a part of, apart from the business side of my chosen field.
How long does it take you to create a piece of jewelry? From where do you draw your inspirations?
The jewelry making design and ultimate creation process is hard to pin down.
I may have an inspired concept or image that is born in my studio or a napkin sketch over a pint, and that process of an original idea can go through gestation for months or years before a final tangible creation in metal.
That said, the mechanics of creating the master original work can take many days or weeks in the case of a ring in many sizes.
Once the master work is created, I practice the art of lost wax casting to create the pieces that I sell. These go through many steps of wax injection followed by creation in metal (14k or sterling).
These steps can take weeks, but they (are done) on a small-volume scale. These "raw" pieces are then on my bench for a variety of processes including soldering, stone setting etc., and then hand-finished through a variety of hand antique and final finishing processes.
The inspirational aspect is more a combination of the above answer in that symbolic content, designs from antiquity as seen in the "Book of Kells" and other liturgical manuscripts, provide layers of inspiration that are combined with personal talismanic concepts to create designs with meaning and substance.
How long have you been attending the Dublin Irish Festival as a vendor? What keeps you coming back?
The Dublin Irish Festival is one of the premier festivals nationally in this genre. The cultural amenities developed here are far superior to smaller "kiss me I'm Irish" type events.
The festival speaks for itself with the music, poetry, dance and other historic aspects. Not the least of these dear to my heart is the honor given to artisans in the genre with our own Emerald Isle Arts area, dedicated to those of us who dedicate our skill and craftsmanship to this special and unique art form in its many incarnations.
Finally, the attendees who appreciate and support the festival and the artists are a loyal and dedicated lot, and it is like a homecoming every year for all of us to share time together in Dublin annually.
When you take a break from your booth at the festival, where do you like to go? What's your favorite part of the festival?
My booth is very hands-on and I am pretty much dedicated to full presence during show hours.
I am able to visit with fellow artisans during slow times, which is nice to catch up and socialize with our limited time together in Dublin. If a particularly compelling musician or group is playing, I have run off to check out a song or two.
The Dublin Irish Festival will be held in Dublin's Coffman Park, 5200 Emerald Parkway, from 4 p.m. to midnight Aug. 4; 11 a.m. to midnight Aug. 5; and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 6.
Single-day tickets are $10 through Aug. 3 and will cost $15 beginning Aug. 4. For details, visit dublinirishfestival.org.