The Creative Hub of Apopka held its Art Alive event, which consisted of the Maker’s Demo, the Plein Air painting competition, and a supply drive. The Plein Air art competition invited artists to visit many different locations in Apopka to paint the scenery, and the Maker’s Demo hosted various artists and crafters ranging from woodturners, 3D printers, potters, rock artists, etchers, and more.
Visitors had the opportunity to see the artists at work and to purchase their arts and crafts pieces and even consumable products like jelly and fudge. An eye-opening event like the Maker’s Demo shows that art can come in many forms, from painting a mural to whipping up a jar of jelly.
Melanie Jankun, a founder of the Creative Hub of Apopka, was happy with how the morning unfolded because she saw how the community and the artists engaged with one another. She was happy to see children and adults being able to take part in the arts and crafts on display.
“They got to talk to the people that actually host classes here, so making that personal connection with them and engaging in their activity inspires them [to say to themselves,] ‘Oh, maybe I want to take that class…’” Melanie Jankun said. “I thought that was the best part of the day.”
Dan Hoffman and Pam Bozkurt, members of the Central Florida Woodturners, demonstrated how wood objects like bowls, vases, birdhouses, and other round or cylindrical items are crafted. The wig stands that their club “turns” were on display, and they mentioned that they donate them to cancer centers. They were glad to be able to show some of the younger visitors what woodturning is all about.
“Most of the people who do woodturning are my age, and if we don’t teach them and bring in younger people, our craft is gonna die,” Hoffman said.
Kate Lake, the pottery teacher at the Creative Hub of Apopka, worked her pottery wheel, and as it spun, formless pieces of clay were shaped into a vase or a bowl. Lake said she loves making things with her hands, and the “second best thing is helping other people find the joy” that she derives from the craft.
“…It’s kind of a pun for potters, but it’s really centering. There’s something about getting out of the stresses from my day-to-day… Lake said. “…It clears my mind, and I start thinking about things in new ways, and I just feel centered. It’s almost spiritual.”
Lake said that she had been waiting and was ecstatic when the opportunity arose to demonstrate her craft to the community. She said that she feels like she may have possibly “sparked somebody else’s creativity” to learn how to use the pottery wheel.
Kate Smallwood, an artist specializing in etching, demonstrated her craft using a handheld device that spins and creates abrasions on the glass to create lettering or images. She said that common responses she received from people were, “‘you’re so great’” or “‘you’re so talented,’” but what makes her good is the practice she has put into her craft.
“A lot of people look at stuff and go, ‘that’s so difficult,’ but they never tried to do it,” Smallwood said.
Amy Ellerbe of Soulshine in a Jar visited her friend in Tennessee for two and half years and learned the craft of making jelly from her. Back at home, during “COVID” times, Amy Ellerbe began experimenting with fruits and herbs to create the 26 jelly flavors she now offers eventually.
“…I call it my meditation time…” Ellerbe said. “…There’s a process to it, especially when I’m concocting new ones, sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t because of the herbs mixing with the fruits, but I find it enjoyable like a lot of crafts…”
Jessica Simms, illustrator, and designer, hand sculpts cat-illustrated earrings and “trinket trays” and said everyone she interacted with at the market was friendly. Simms said that everyone she interacted with at the market was friendly and that events like these allow vendors to establish a good relationship with the community.
“I grew up being in love with art, and it was my big escape from anything that was stressing me out,” Simms said. “Now, it's also my escape in my current day…”
Evelyn Bell of Belleve Rocks, and local rock artist, uses stones of different shapes and sizes by wrapping and painting them. Bell spices things up by leaving them in random locations for strangers to find.
“They’re kindness rocks, so they’re made from the bottom of my heart just to hide ‘em for others to find and bring them joy,” Bell said.
On Sunday, Bell planned to go to the Apopka Wildlife Drive to participate in the Plein Air art competition, where she would paint the scenery but also incorporate some of the local wildlife that she said is known by locals and have personalized names. She said there’s an alligator that’s missing its top snout, and its name is Bubba and a great blue heron with a crooked neck known as the Ambassador.
The lyrics of the song Seminole Wind by John Anderson inspired Eddie “Inkfish” Ellerbe, painter and husband of Amy Ellerbe, to paint a large mural on the shed behind the Creative Hub of Apopka’s studio. Eddie Ellerbe said that it took him about four months to be “satisfied and finished” with the mural, and when he was done, it felt “bittersweet” because he enjoyed spending time there.
“I think that Florida is my muse… I love the nature here,” Eddie Ellerbe said. “Looking at a palm tree or going on the river… We go kayaking so we see inside the nature of things. It’s always inspirational…”
Eddie Ellerbe said that events like the Maker’s Demo, where the vendors bring handmade or homegrown products for sale, are a representation of a “true America.” He said that with so many purchases online being products that are manufactured in other countries, it is becoming “near impossible” to buy American-made products.
Kaylee Church grows and sells a variety of plants and makes her own macrame plant hangers. Church has a shade house set up at her home and grows a lot of her plants, and what she doesn’t grow is “locally sourced from wholesale nurseries.”
Anthony Perez, owner, and operator of 3D Apopka, set up a booth to showcase the future of art. He said he uses his 3D printer to create things like cosplay costumes and materials for the Dungeons and Dragons players he’s met at the comic book shop.
“…I can build the weapons, the face shield, the body armor,” Perez said. “There’s nothing you can’t do for cosplay.”
Matt Jankun, the husband of Melanie Jankun and founding member of the Creative Hub of Apopka, said they hope to create a huge art scene in Apopka by bringing creative minds together as they did for the Maker’s Demo.
“We’ve met so many people… and there’s a reason you meet people,” Matt Jankun said. “That bubble just keeps getting bigger and bigger.”
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