Megan O'Keefe describes herself as "an insatiable maker who founded Blushie based on dual loves of science and artistry."
Through Blushie, O'Keefe crafts scented products for the home and body such as perfumes, soaps and candles.
"For me, inspiration often comes from how strongly scent is tied to memory," said O'Keefe. "It's a challenge and a pleasure to be able to capture the aroma of rain striking earth after a long drought and transport you to that moment in time with just a sniff."
O'Keefe gets a rare opportunity to showcase her soaps and candles at a site where world-class art exhibitions normally reign supreme. She will join other local artisans for the Bedford Gallery's annual Craft Fest. O'Keefe said it's quite an honor to share space with fine artists.
Alongside the craft fest, the gallery's current exhibit, "Home: Shelter and Habitat in Contemporary Art," will run through Nov. 17.
"Many makers work primarily from home or private studios and communicate with their clients primarily through the Web," O'Keefe said. "Having the opportunity to get out in a public space and share your creations face-to-face with the people who love them as much as you do is a wonderful way to add vibrancy to the local economy and also refill the artist's creative well."
The first Bedford Gallery Craft Fest was held in 2008 during the exhibition "Untold Stories: Early American Quilts form the Collection of Susan Brooks," said Kathleen Brennan, the gallery's program coordinator.
"Part of the inspiration to bring more crafts into the gallery came from this show," Brennan said. "Also, at the time the Bedford staff didn't see a lot of indie craft events happening in this part of the Bay Area. There were many happening in larger cities like San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley, with major fairs like Renegade only happening in San Francisco. The Bedford wanted to produce an event that was Contra Costa County-focused to support the artists in the area and make their work available to the Contra Costa community."
The event also allows the gallery to show artists whose work doesn't fit into the gallery's regular exhibition schedule. The BG Craft Fest is very popular with visitors looking for holiday gifts, Brennan said.
"The event has continued to grow, attracting more vendors and visitors each year," she said.
All of craft fest vendors this year are from the Bay Area, with many from Contra Costa County, including Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Walnut Creek, Concord and Orinda, as well as Alameda, Oakland, Benicia, San Francisco and Dublin.
"All of the vendors will be selling their own handmade products and will be in the gallery to talk with visitors," Brennan said.
Martinez resident Helena Tuman makes small batch preserves.
"I have been making jam for years and became motivated to sell it after the Cottage Food Law passed, in an attempt to make money to help me start a farm," said the UC Santa Cruz grad.
"This is a significant event for several reasons; for starters the customers have a large array of locally made goods to choose from that are unique and unlike what would be found in most stores, and the money will stay in the community," Tuman said.
She's been working for a small 15-acre organic farm, Shooting Star CSA, for the past few years. The money she makes from Jam On, her Martinez-based business where she makes seasonal flavors using organic fruit sourced from local farmers, will go toward starting her own small farm, Tuman said.
The Oakland native said she likes the natural beauty of her new home and the farmlands of Contra Costa County.
"When I'm out of the kitchen and off the farm, I love hiking the gorgeous hills of Martinez.
"This is an exciting event for some of us food vendors because we are CFOs -- cottage food operators -- and have had a hard time finding markets to sell at. It's a great opportunity for all vendors to get there product out and meet people from their neck of the woods."
What: Bedford Gallery Craft Fest 2013
When: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 3
Where: Bedford Gallery, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek
Information: Free admission. Visit bedfordgallery.org/programs/craftfest.shtml