Sugar Plum Pop-Up

Items from Lisette Fee's most recent, snake inspired, collection which will be available for purchase at the Sugar Plum Pop-Up.

The Greenville Museum of Art (GMoA) will host its third Sugar Plum Pop-Up art and vendor show on Dec. 4 from 5 to 8 p.m. and Dec. 6 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Communications and Events Coordinator at GMoA Sim Asher said the event is intended to give artists and vendors a way to gain exposure for their work from the community as well as to be a source of extra income. He said there are 11 artists currently booked for the event and he hopes to secure a twelfth. 

“We’ve got jewelry artists, we’ve got stickers and decals, I think we definitely have plenty of artists who are providing mixed media or acrylic paintings that will be for sale,” Asher said. “A lot of accessories, so like pocketbooks, scarves, you name it, we have it.”

In addition to the artists and vendors wares, Asher said the museum’s gift shop will be open. On Dec. 5 the sale will take place as an extension of the December First Friday Artwalk. Asher said he thinks the split nature of the sale will cater well to different shopping demographics. 

Due to the impacts of COVID-19, Asher said serious consideration was given to whether or not to hold the event. He said after the success of its sidewalk sale in October, GMoA decided to move forward with the event with some additional precautions in place such as a mask requirement, hand sanitizing stations and more. 

“Every artist and vendor is going to be separated throughout our entire museum. We feel confident that given the amount of vendors that we have we’ll be able to securely monitor foot traffic and the amount of people coming in at one time,” Asher said. 

Lisette Fee, an East Carolina University School of Art and Design alumna, is one of the artists participating in this year’s pop-up shop. She said she creates and sells jewelry inspired by animals and wildlife.

This is the first year Fee has participated in the Sugar Plum Pop-Up, but she said she sells her pieces at other local vendor shows. She said she runs her studio out of her home and primarily sells her jewelry on her website, but craft shows offer her an extra income. 

“I was definitely a little hesitant just because the (COVID-19) outbreaks are kind of increasing right now, but I do love the museum it's such a beautiful space, and I’m good friends with Sim Asher, so when I saw he posted about it I thought why not do a show here in town.”

Fee said she makes her pieces from “lost wax” casts of animal bones, beaks and talons she has found. She said her most recent collection, which will be on sale at the Sugar Plum Pop-Up, is snake inspired. She said she made the collection from a mold of a snake she found on a walk in the mountains.

She said this casting technique involves making and filling several casts and molds of these found items. To begin the process a mold of the original object is made and filled with wax, Fee said. Then the wax replica of the original object is removed from the mold.

“Then the wax is encased in silica and clay, and then you put that, what we call a flask, into an oven and burn it at a high temperature, and the wax burns out and then you have that empty negative space of your object, say an owl talon,” Fee said. “Then, that space gets filled with metal, so that’s why we call it ‘lost wax’ because the wax gets burned out and then in that place becomes metal.”

Another vendor who will be at the pop-up shop is Thats Mayan, run by Bryan O’Keefe. He said he sells handmade Guatemalan pieces ranging from clothing and hats to purses and other leather items. He said he started his business in March, right at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

O’Keefe said he usually spends his summers in Guatemala, but due to COVID-19 the country’s borders were closed, which cut him and the rest of the country’s regular tourists off from their normal summer vacations. He said the lack of tourism has left countless Guatemalans without any source of income. 

“I saw a video of them (Guatemalans) on Facebook, excited over uncooked rice, and I contacted a local family down there that I knew and tried to give them some money from my stimulus check and his exact words were, ‘brother we don’t want your charity, we just want to be able to work,’ so me and him started this business in March,” O’Keefe said.    

Everything O’Keefe sells is handmade by craftspeople in Guatemala, he said. The fabric is hand spun and woven and is dyed with natural pigments like leaves and beet juice, he said. A single piece of clothing or leather purse can often take 30 days to complete. 

O’Keefe said people should come to the Sugar Plum Pop-Up to support local businesses. He said department stores have not felt the impact of COVID-19, but local businesses have and for him, every sale makes a difference. He said he thinks the museum is the perfect location to try to reach that local audience. 

“Every piece I have is a work of art, any product I have is literally a piece of art so it’s just the best space to do it in and I think the best customer base, clientele that I’m looking for just because the pocket books are definitely artwork, but even the painted hats are like wearable art,” O’Keefe said. 

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