Some things old, some things new

Vineyard Artisans Festival launches this weekend.

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Shore birds. Courtesy Cynthia Gibby.

A sure sign of summer: The Vineyard Artisans Festival will kick off the 2018 season with a Memorial Day weekend show this Saturday and Sunday, May 26 and 27, indoors and outdoors at the Grange Hall from 10 am to 4 pm each day. Among the dozens of artists represented will be a few new faces, and there will be a couple of new offerings by established Vineyard artisans.

Woodworker David Gibby has created custom cabinets and antique reproduction furniture for many years. He had a highly successful business in Philadelphia, recreating family heirlooms and other pieces on commission.

“They would show me a picture of what they wanted and I would make it,” he says. After 45 years in the business, Gibby decided to retire to his home on the Vineyard two years ago, although retired is a relative term. “I don’t play golf — a pleasant walk spoiled,” says Gibby, quoting Mark Twain.

Instead, the 79-year-old has kept busy doing repair work on antiques and creating original pieces. He’ll offer the latter at the Artisans Festival during Sundays in August; he’s trying the event on for size with the opening this weekend. Among the items he will show are painted and unpainted cabinets, wall shelves, trinket boxes, and dovetail chests, as well as carved songbirds and decoys. He often copies antique pieces, using antiques magazines and books for inspiration.

Gibby originally pursued art, before establishing his woodworking career. He earned a graduate degree from Tyler School of Art, and taught high school art for three years before starting his own business in the 1970s. By his own account, he has worked in all of the trades, except for plumbing and electrical work. His portfolio includes home construction, period restorations and renovations, architectural additions, cabinetry, and more.

During his years in construction, Gibby always found the time to pursue furniture making on the side, exploring his passion for antiques.

“My ancestors handed down a lot of stuff that I grew up with,” he says. “Over the years I got to see what factory furniture was like, and what bench-made furniture was like. There was no comparison. Bench-made is far superior.”

A traditionalist, Gibby uses a variety of wood types, and does faux finishes and decorative work with milk-based paints and natural pigments and dyes. “I only use domestic woods,” he says. “I do not use tropical woods. I don’t in any way want to deplete the rain forests.” He’s also a firm believer in using reclaimed material. “There’s lots of wood that’s being put out as trash which is exquisite,” he says. “It’s aged and seasoned and can be recycled in many, many charming ways.”

The woodworker’s reproductions are so authentic in appearance that he often has to explain that they are not actually antiques. “I’d go to craft shows and people would say, ‘How old is that?’ I’d tell them two weeks.”

Gibby enjoys interacting with his customers, and is looking forward to meeting people at the Artisans Festival, talking about his work and, no doubt, cracking a joke or two. “Customers always have questions,” he says. “Why is shellac better than varnish? Why is this dovetail?”

Referring to his lack of tech savvy (his wife handles website and digital image duties), Gibby makes a claim that could refer to his business model as well. “I’m thoroughly a dinosaur and I’m delighted with it,” he says proudly.

Longtime Artisans Festival participant Jamie Rogers is also offering something very new to the mix. The artist, blacksmith, and jewelry maker is adding a line of essential oil blends to her Artisans Festival booth. She will feature nine different original blends, sold in half-ounce and two-ounce spray bottles, as well as an organic body butter.

“Over the winter I started to research essential oils, and I got addicted to collecting them,” she says. “Out of my own needs and wants I started to make my own blends, combining different oils. All oils have their properties and energies. Lavender is very calming. Citrus is an antibacterial.”

Rogers’ line will feature a variety of blends. Peace and Harmony combines lavender, orange, basil, peppermint, and patchouli. Walk in the Woods evokes one of Rogers’ favorite activities with a blend of balsam cyprus, white fir, sandalwood, and cedarwood. “It transports me to forest,” she says. “That’s the happy place in my life.”

The other oils target specific needs. There are blends for stress and anxiety relief, an anti-bacterial, allergy and sinus relief, an energizing blend, a bug repellant, sleepytime mist, and headache relief. “You can spray them on clothing, on pillows and sheets, or put them on washcloths,” says Rogers.

“Almost all of my oils are organic,” she says of her base materials. “They are all therapeutic-grade.”

Rogers will add her latest line to her already eclectic array of handmade products, including ironwork, jewelry, and paintings. She will launch the oil blends at the Memorial Day weekend festival, and you can also find her booth at the Artisans Festival Thursdays and Sundays throughout the summer.