Eighth annual Artists Garage Sale takes place Saturday at Olympia Armory

Contributing writerMay 23, 2014 

There was plenty to look through while shopping at last year’s Artists Garage Sale. Organizers this year expect 45 artists to bring creations for sale Saturday at the Olympia Armory on Eastside Street.

CASSIE WELLIVER/PATRONS OF SOUTH SOUND CULTURAL ARTS

For those who love garage sales, the Artists Garage Sale offers their favorite pastime writ large — and with the opportunity to find some really desirable art at an affordable price.

“I’ve been able to get artwork from artists that I really admire, like Gail Ramsey Wharton,” said Cassie Welliver, secretary of Patrons of South Sound Cultural Arts — POSSCA — which hosts the sale as a fundraiser. “I normally wouldn’t be able to afford one of her pieces. Those kinds of things are really cool.”

At least 45 artists will sell art supplies, art and more at Saturday’s eighth annual sale.

“There are all kinds of things,” Welliver said. “We encourage people to bring things that are affordable to your average garage-saler. We encourage instruments, music, books that you’ve created yourself, any kind of handmade item.”

Jewelry artist Sylvia Swasey of Olympia has been selling beads, displays and marked-down jewelry at the sale for the past three years, and while she’s clearing out items she no longer wants, she’s picked up new treasures.

“Last year, I bought a bag of beads for $2, and there were all these beautiful pendants,” she said. “I was like, ‘I can do something with these.’”

Welliver, too, has found items that become part of her own creative projects.

“I bought an empty gourd that had holes along one edge, and I wood-burned it, and I added beading, and it’s now a really cool bowl,” she said. “You never know what you are going to find that will spur your creativity.”

The sale has drawn crowds of more than 1,000.

Unlike most garage sales, POSSCA’s charges a $1 admission fee, which helps to fund the organization’s college scholarship program for students in the arts and its donations of refurbished and new musical instruments for students in need.

And this garage sale gives new meaning to the phrase “no early birds.”

“The first two years (I participated), people were lined up around the block to get in, and they don’t open the doors until 10,” Swasey said. “The first hour or two was really, really busy. Last year wasn’t quite as well attended.”

She’s often offered $3 earrings at her booth, as well as deeply discounted necklaces and bracelets. She normally sells her jewelry at retail stores and at some of the larger art sales around the Northwest.

Some of the art available at the sale might be described as “seconds.”

“Artists experiment a lot, and we end up with things that we wouldn’t necessarily put on a shelf and say, ‘This is my art,’ but it still looks really cool or interesting or might fit somebody’s living room,” Swasey said.

“In art work, there’s a lot of failure, and you have to deal with it,” she added. “This is a way of dealing with it.”

But Swasey has seen some expensive pieces sold at the garage sale, too. “Some people actually bring their nice things, like it’s an art show,” she said.

Welliver said large, unusual items such as a printing press have sold for hundreds of dollars.

Mostly, though, it’s like any garage sale. Shoppers are looking for a bargain.

“Some completely sell out, because they mark their things down to really low prices,” Swasey said.

Artists Garage Sale

What: The eighth annual sale, a fundraiser for Patrons of South Sound Cultural Arts, will offer art supplies, art, musical instruments and more.

When: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday

Where: Olympia Armory, 515 Eastside St., Olympia

Tickets: $1

More information: possca.org

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