MARYSVILLE – Getting winter wood for the fireplace was the closest Al Baker of Marysville ever got to woodworking.
That is until five years ago when he retired from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department.
Now he makes bird houses. “I don’t know what I’m going to come up with. I just start making them,” he said Friday.
That’s not entirely true. He made one of the Mukilteo Lighthouse for a friend. And when another friend moved from Camano Island to Las Vegas, he made another birdhouse that looked like their old home.
That one’s not used as a birdhouse. “It’s in a trophy case,” he said, adding the wife starting crying when she got it.
Baker is one of the dozens of artists showing off their creations at the Homemade and Homegrown Festival on Third Street downtown. The event runs through Sunday.
What makes Baker’s birdhouses even more unique is they are made from stop sign posts that have been thrown away by the county. Using a band saw, Baker said with one post he can make 3,000 shingles for the roofs on his birdhouses.
It’s Baker’s fourth year at Homegrown. He just was at a similar event up north.
“I sold so many at Arlington, this is all I have,” he said of the 28 he has to sell this weekend.
Baker also sells his birdhouses at the Apple Blossom Festival in Wenatchee. This year he placed first there in Arts and Crafts.
He said it takes about 1 1/2 days to build each one, and they sell for from $25 to $60 apiece. Baker said there is a disclaimer with each one saying it cannot be guaranteed that the house will attract birds. But he usually hears from customers that birds have already moved in after a few days.
Of one birdhouse, he was told a mom was teaching her kids to “fly right off the balcony.”
Baker isn’t the only one selling unique birdhouses at Homegrown. Laura and Monty Leavitt of Antioch are selling birdhouses made with an upside-down teapot attached to wood from an old 1920’s barn. “We hear the ‘wow’ factor a lot,” Monty said.
Laura came up with the idea about a year ago, and they’ve been making them ever since. They also sell bird baths and candy dish bird feeders. They have about 100 birdhouses, and each took more than two hours to build. “We make all a little different,” he said.
There are so many different items at the festival, but Jake Hose’s paintings also stand out – maybe because he calls himself a “whimsical artist.”
The Puyallup man has been coming here for five years. He likes the “down home” feel of the area north of Seattle, and he has a lot of fans here.
Hose likes to take Pacific Northwest culture and put a different spin on it.
One painting, called “If Seattle were Venice,” shows Pike’s Place Market, but with Venice, Italy-style canals and boats. Hose likes pirates, so two paintings play off that theme. One is of sea animals at an underwater bar and another of dogs in pirate attire playing cards.
Hose said he likes his artwork to take peope on a journey. “Use your imagination to take it further,” he said of his work. “That’s the magic of art. It’s a universal language you can connect and relate to.”
Jewelry, chainsaw art, honey, all kinds of Seahawks stuff, barbecue and much more are at the festival. Lindsey Hawkins and Kyler Phillips of Renton had fun making tie-dyed shirts at one booth.