Marketplace Spotlight

Donna Larson of Blythe Spirits

Donna Larson, owner and operator of Blythe Spirits has been making soaps and lotions for 25 years. The soaps are cold-process and made with olive, avocado, apricot, coconut, shea, hempseed and castor oils. She uses only the finest scented, essential oils and never tires of creating new recipes. As a long-time habitue’ of the Renaissance Faire, it seemed the most logical and fun place to sell her craft.

Contact Donna Larson:
Blythe Spirits
Fine Handmade Soaps & Emollients

Although the directions for making soap are readily available via the internet, the bookstores and/or the library, becoming a maker of truly fine soap takes many years and much dedication.

Donna has been affiliated in one way or another with the Renaissance Faire for nearly 50 years and that is where she decided to begin her life as a soap crafter and share her talents. Her grandmother was her first soap-making teacher and in the ensuing years, she modified and elaborated on the original recipes. As she refined her skills, it was a natural progression to go back “home” to the beloved Renaissance Faire and begin selling from her own little shop. She is constantly experimenting with new scents and combinations to keep her selection creative and fresh. Donna is looking forward to resuming her place in our small village when the plague is banished from this land…we hope to see you all there again next season! Click here to find out more about Blythe Spirits high quality and all natural products.

The fabulous Briton Ensemble provides an impromptu concert at the Renaissance Faire.

Stuart Abelman of Abelman Art Glass

Stuart and his trusty steed, Maeve!

Stuart Abelman has been at the Faire for over 40 years creating beautiful hand blown art glass. Some of his signature pieces include goblets, mushroom lights, planet lights, vases and pumpkins. Stuart uses his own formulas and the finest silica sand to ensure the purest quality glass possible. Each piece is made entirely of hot molten glass and is worked and completed at the furnace. The colors and patterns are formed from the hot glass. Many of the beautiful colors are made with gold, silver and other precious metals.

“I have been working with hot glass for so many years that I am certain it runs through my veins.”

Samples of Stuarts work (fan favorites).
Early studio days at Abelman Art Glass.

Contact the Studio:
Abelman Art Glass
7851 Noble Avenue
Van Nuys, California 91405

A glass blowing demonstration at the Faire.

Stuart Abelman’s artistic ability was recognized at an early age, giving him the opportunity to study sculpture and painting as a young man.  By seventeen he had quite an impressive portfolio. In 1967 he was accepted to Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania as a painting and drawing major. He studied fine art for four years, and in 1971 received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.    

It was in his senior year at Carnegie Mellon University that he first saw the brand new glass department.  It was love at first sight.  He devoted his entire senior year to glassblowing.  Stuart then entered the graduate four-year Master of Fine Arts program at U.C.L.A. and proceeded to study and blow glass for four more intensive years. During this time he was a Teaching Associate at U.C.L.A. and a partner in a small two man glassblowing studio that he helped build in Inglewood California. Stuart received his Master of Fine Arts from U.C.L.A. in 1976.  By this time he had already created a body of work that was finding its way into art shows and galleries.      

While at U.C.L.A., El Camino College called to ask if he would run their glassblowing department.  He did this as well as teaching a ceramics class and developing a flat glass program for them. After several years as a college instructor, Stuart realized that although he loved teaching, he did not have the time to create in glass all of the ideas he found himself constantly sketching.  Stuart had always drawn and doodled on any available scrap of paper, even as a very young child.  As he grew older this even included drawing borders on his college exam papers, but now he found himself drawing ideas for glass on paper napkins in restaurants and on airplane flights.  It was time to start his own studio, so in 1976 Stuart left teaching and started Abelman Art Glass.      

Stuart spent much of 1976 building his studio:  Furnaces, pot furnaces, glory holes (re-heating furnaces), annealing ovens, glassblower benches, etc… and in June of 1977 the first furnace was lit at the Abelman Art Glass studio in Southern California.      

Stuart’s glass pieces are shown in galleries and museums around the world and have become permanent additions to museum, private and celebrity collections here and overseas. The Kobe Museum in Japan has a piece in its collection, and his piece in the permanent collection of the Corning Museum is particularly notable for its infusion of life into a figurative sculpture in glass. Stuart Abelman was the first to bring figurative sculpture to hand blown glass in the new art glass studio movement in the United States in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.      

Stuart has journeyed through many new frontiers in the American hand blown art glass studio movement including extensive commission work for the movie, fashion, and entertainment industries. Stuart played a 300 A.D. glassblower in a PBS movie, and a glass artist at an art show in a Showtime pilot movie. Special effect shoots at Paramount Studios, the cover of a romance novel, his work chosen by the Los Angeles Olympic committee as a gift for the all around gold medal winner in gymnastics in the 1984 games, and a piece in Disney’s exclusive Club 33, are just a few of the stories that make up his life in glass.