Artists offer harvest of creativity at Fall Art Festival


Jewelry maker Mershid Arjmand (in Studio 7) designed this sterling woven pin.

Photographer Denise Strahm (in Studio 2) turns her lens on the old mission churches like the Carmel Mission. Photo courtesy Denise Strahm

Several La Jolla artists will showcase a harvest of their creativity at the Spanish Village Art Center’s Fall Art Festival in Balboa Park on Oct. 25 and 26. They will be among the 200 artisans and craftspeople showing their work at the village.

Artisans will display a colorful array of one-of-a-kind pieces, including glass-blown pumpkins, fine jewelry, enamel landscapes, polymer clay pieces and photography.

The festival will also feature live music, children’s activities, food vendors and refreshments.

Brooke Barttelbort, a glassblower in Studio 19, will feature pumpkins in a range of colors and sizes. She fell in love with glassblowing at age 15 after watching a glassblower in Santa Fe, N.M., then studied the craft with Studio 19 owner, Andrea Cohen.

She calls her specialty glassblowing technique “wavy gravy” and she uses it to fashion goblets, glasses, mugs and fish.

“It’s where you let the glass take a shape of its own and a vase or bowl has a wavy edge on the top of it like Chihuly’s,” Barttelbort said. “I like to make something that’s functional, beautiful and reasonably priced at the same time.”

A jewelry maker for 28 years, Mershid Arjmand, in Studio 7, will show her delicate necklaces, earrings and bracelets of precious and semi-precious stones set in silver and gold.

“My jewelry has a sense of design and elegance, and a lot of my ideas come from nature,” Arjmand said. “I do a lot of organic things such as flowers, shells and beads made into the shape of flowers.”

Arjmand favors the metalworking technique called reticulation that gives metal a wrinkled texture. Skilled in the techniques of cloisonne and fabrication, Arjmand also studied weaving with Arline Fisch and learned how to braid and weave with sterling silver wires. View her work at


After Ellie Hitchcock’s friend showed her how to work with polymer clay, Hitchcock quit her day job to do it full time. Now a 10-year resident of Studio 30, Hitchcock specializes in making sculptures, masks and jewelry out of polymer clay (also known by such brand names as Sculpey and Fimo).

Hitchcock speaks enthusiastically about her latest creation - a decorative candlestick with a sculpted clay head of an older woman fitted atop a candlestick measuring 6 inches.

“These candlestick crones are older and wiser women, who still have a sparkle in their eyes and are into mischievous things,” she said. “My first one is Miss Hannah and she looks very traditional until you turn her to the side and you see her two dangling earrings.”

Hitchcock thinks that Miss Hannah will soon share the spotlight with several girlfriends, all with old-fashioned names. View Hitchcock’s work online at


Photographer Denise Strahm picked up a camera while still in grade school and has been busy every since. Settled in Studio 2, Strahm specializes in photographing old buildings because she admires their textures and old peeling paints that give them character. When in California, she often turns her lens on the old mission churches.

“Photographers are more into their lenses and cameras, but I also do graphic design and am more into the composition and the color,” Strahm said. “When people see my work, they say it has a painterly look and ask if they’re paintings or photography.”

At the festival, Strahm will offer California mission photos and San Diego scenes featuring Windansea Beach.

View Strahm’s work at


Jane Beiser, an enamel artist at Spanish Village in Studio 5 for 25 years, studied guitar and ceramics before she finally found her niche in an enameling class. Enameling is glass fused onto metal in a kiln at 1500 degrees.

Beiser specializes in creating landscapes and abstract wall pieces. As artist of the month in September, she created 11 Balboa Park scenes, including the California Tower, the Botanical Building and the Organ Pavilion.

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