This year's Artisan Festival offered a new look to go along with its new name.

Formerly known as the Springtyme Faire, the festival kicked off its 38th year with upscale and eclectic pieces hand-crafted by fine artists of the surrounding area.

Sponsored by the Tehachapi Valley Arts Association, the Artisan Festival was held at Railroad Park in downtown Tehachapi Saturday and continues Sunday, despite the "June gloom." This year's event featured 33 vendors offering everything from one-of-kind jewelry creations to the custom wood carvings and signs by Jeff Peal of Pealworks.

Peal says he creates his pieces using wood he gets from a friend in Bear Valley Springs.

"My friend has a mill, and some of these pieces are just the top part of the mill slice, and for regular cord, they can't use it. I get a lot of this stuff from the bark beetle area," Peal said.

Many of Peal's carvings are flat and can easily be hung on an interior or exterior wall. He said his mentor was popular carver Kent Holmgren, whose large-scale pieces have been found all over Tehachapi for decades.

"It takes a while to learn," the carver said. "He taught me a lot of stuff. I didn't want to copy him, but I saw his carvings, and it inspired me to get back into doing my artwork."

Also found at this year's event were returning vendors Patrick and Carla Villasenor of Nana-Papa's Country Creations. The couple create whimsical birdhouses using reclaimed materials. Patrick creates the birdhouses, and Carla finishes them off with paint and by adding items such as teacups or old spoons.

"A lot of it is vintage, and we use a lot of barn wood," Carla said. "We also use a lot of teacups, shovels and old pitchforks. Everything is recycled."

Also returning this year was Wanda Summerell of Wander Works. Summerell creates custom wind chimes using unusual and clever items to make one-of-a-kind pieces.

With literally hundreds to chose from, Summerell said her most popular pieces depend on the area where she is selling them.

Said Summerell, "Today, they like gnomes and booze (wind chimes)."

Summerell incorporates unusual materials in her wind chimes such as animal statues, silver teapots, old bottles, children's toys and even beer cans.

Adding to enhanced quality of goods found at this year's event was David Wiley and his Crystal Bird feeders of Quartz Hill. Wiley uses high-end glass pieces such as Murano, Picasa and Blanco.

Said Wiley on what it takes to create his fine art bird feeders, "A lot of the time it's just finding the pieces that go together."

Gale Caldwell, vice president of TVAA, said the name of the event was changed to reflect the different image it now features by offering upscale creations by fine artists.

Said Caldwell, "We wanted to make it sound like what it is ... quality creations. With all the booths we have out here, the vendors are just selling beautiful things. 'Arts and crafts' is such an out-dated term. It's just so much more than just sitting at home gluing pom poms together. These people are really amazing talent. Super quality stuff, and very innovative."

Recommended for you