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Arts Walk ignites downtown

Fire juggler Jon performs Friday on Fifth Avenue during Arts Walk in downtown Olympia . The art showcase continues today.
Fire juggler Jon performs Friday on Fifth Avenue during Arts Walk in downtown Olympia . The art showcase continues today. The Olympian

OLYMPIA - Crowds flocked to downtown Olympia on Friday for Arts Walk, which is turning 40 but shows no signs of slowing down.

The walk, which continues from noon-7 p.m. today, features work from nearly 300 artists showcased at more than 120 businesses, organizers said. It drew an estimated 10,000 people Friday night.

Bill and Dolores Lowmon, who live on Olympia’s west side, say they’ve attended Arts Walk on and off for six years. They say they keep coming back to people-watch and get reacquainted with downtown.

“We like the feeling of being around people,” Dolores Lowmon said. “The atmosphere is fun to be in.”

Most of the art is paintings, but the event also features photography, pottery, jewelry making, woodworking, sculptures, textiles and glass blowing.

Patricia Frantz, who used to make pottery, said she began making glass beads 23 years ago. A friend introduced her to dichroic glass beads, and she never looked back.

“I threw away the mud and went straight for the glass,” Frantz said. “It’s hypnotic and addictive. Beading is in our DNA.”

Dichroic glass has had multiple thin layers of tiny crystals applied to it in a vacuum chamber. Light traveling through the glass gives the bead the illusion of having multiple colors.

The beads bend light, she said. “They shift and change.”

Frantz uses a torch, oxygen, natural gas, propane and steel rods to make the beads. They can take anywhere from five minutes to hours to create.

“You’ve got to pay attention,” Frantz said.

This was Frantz’s first time at the Arts Walk, and she hopes to come back again next year.

“It’s a bit of a trudge,” said Frantz, who came in from Shelton. “(But) it’s always a good idea.”

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