Though the Oyster Festival has been around for 40 years, this will be Centereach resident Billy Reardon’s first time taking part in it. A retired carpenter who still does home improvement jobs, Reardon, 63, will make his debut as a vendor selling his wooden birdhouses and other crafts, including wine racks, planters, pumpkins, witches and scarecrows.
Reardon is one of more than 140 artisans set to sell their handmade items inside the Mel Warren Arts & Crafts Tent and Outdoor Venue at the popular Oyster Bay event Oct. 14 and 15, and among a growing number of local creators selling items community events happening throughout the fall festival season.
At the Oyster Festival: Woodworker Billy Reardon
Using reclaimed cedar wood from his work sites, Reardon adds copper accents to each birdhouse, from the windows to the roof, which he makes from palette wood and finishes in a high gloss.
“Where the birds fly in, I put a round copper piece so the squirrels can’t get in,” he says. “It’s like folk art. When you look at them, they’re all different. People love them.”
Working out of his garage workshop, Reardon assembles wood from pieces of decking that are being discarded.
“I’ll even help take down people’s decks just to get the cedar,” Reardon says.
Not only do people love the birdhouses: birds do, too. The three that Reardon keeps on his property attract small birds, such as finches and chickadees, who start to nest in them in early spring.
“I have a little door in the back with a little cabinet pull and hinges that opens it up, so that at the end of the year you clean it out for the next year,” Reardon says.
Currently, Reardon has eight birdhouse designs in various shapes and sizes, some tall and narrow and others that are curved and resemble hobbit houses, with prices ranging from $75 to $200.
“The hobbit houses are my bestsellers,” Reardon says. “They sell for $175.”
At this point, Reardon keeps a wooden template of each design.
“I make about 10 or 15 at a time,” he says.
With all the sawdust flying around, making birdhouses can sometimes be not the most pleasant endeavor, Reardon says, but meeting people at fairs and festivals who appreciate his work is truly gratifying.
“I wish I had a dollar for every compliment I got,” he says. “I’d be a rich man.”
More info: Oct. 14 and 15, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Audrey Avenue and Theodore Roosevelt Park, Oyster Bay
Massapequa Apple Festival: Toothpick painter Frank Cerrone
When Treasure Island, a home goods shop in Carle Place, went out of business nearly two decades ago, Frank Cerrone bought up a whole lot of little plaques and began experimenting with different painting techniques.
An art major in college, Cerrone discovered it was easier to use a toothpick instead of a brush to apply the paint to the small surfaces.
“I started with little things to keep me busy and it just kind of kept growing,” says Cerrone, 68, who’s retired from hospital finance and works out of a basement studio in his West Hempstead home. “Before I knew it, I was making more and more and selling them.”
Cerrone will still use a brush to paint the larger surfaces, like backgrounds, but all of the fine, detailed work gets done with a toothpick.
“I keep the paint very close and it’s a constant dipping, and a lot of dots and a lot of connections,” he says.
Many of Cerrone’s pieces are floral designs and beach scenes painted with acrylics on small boxes, frames, signs, plaques, and decorative dishes made from wood, granite and slate. Currently, he’s currently working on Christmas ornaments on sliced wood pieces.
His artwork costs between $10 and $80, depending on the size and framing.
As he’s done for the past six years, Cerrone will be selling his work at the Massapequa Historical Society’s Apple Festival, where he’s confident that he’ll be the only toothpick artist. Over the past two decades, he’s been practicing this technique.
“That’s one thing: I don’t have much competition,” he says.
More info: Massapequa Historical Society’s Apple Festival Oct. 21, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Old Grace Church and the Historic Complex, Merrick Road and Park Boulevard
Farmingdale Fair: Jewelry maker Christina Tavares
What started as a hobby has turned into a small business for Christina Tavares, when she’s not teaching third grade in Brooklyn, makes jewelry that she sells at fairs like the Columbus Day Fair in Farmingdale and other fairs in Nassau, Westchester and Rockland counties.
“I initially was completely all handcrafted for a number of years. Now I’m a combination of handcrafted and resale just because of time constraints,” says Tavares, 49, who lives in Mineola.
Calling her side biz “Jewelry by Christina,” Tavares makes necklaces, bracelets and earrings, using wire, chains, beads, stones, Swarovski and jasper crystals, and pearls.
“I’ll do necklaces with pendants, dangly crystal earrings, earrings with stones,” she says. “I’ll do short necklaces, long necklaces, bracelets from different stones and different crystals.”
For years, Tavares utilized a lot of amazonite, which comes in hues of blue, but now favors rainbow onyx, which comes in shades of brown, beige, pink and red.
“Those pieces look very pretty because you can pretty much wear them year-round with just about anything,” says Tavares, who also makes jewelry to order.
Though there might be other jewelry vendors at the fair, Tavares is confident that her distinctive, sophisticated style will stand out.
“Many people have bought things they’ll wear to a wedding, dress it up with a dress or with a nice shirt,” says Tavares, adding that she recently crafted a pearl necklace with a Swarovski crystal in the middle, which she describes as, “a very dainty simple look that you could still dress up with that little crystal that gives it a pop.”
Tavares’ necklaces range from $20 to $40; earrings cost $10 to $15, and bracelets go for $15 to $30.
More info: Farmingdale Fair, Oct. 7 and 8, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Main Street from Prospect to South Front streets