Discover Saba: An Art-Lovers Haven.

If you’ve been peeking at my Instagram in recent months you know that I’ve been trying to get out to sunshine whenever possible. One of the places I found it was in Saba. The 5-square mile island is a 12-minute flight from St. Martin but it feels like you’re on another planet entirely. It helps that there are less than 2000 people on island and that every view is more incredible than the next.

Mountainous view of Saba

But what I found set Saba apart from other islands I’ve visited are the artists. Almost everyone I meet practices some sort of art – whether it is painting and sculpting or distilling and cooking. ( Below

kakona art sabaChez Bubba Gin cocktail on Saba

Around every bend of this incredible island, artisans were willing to show me their process, their works in progress and teach me how to try my hand at it too.

Saba is an Artist’s Paradise: Toronto Star

I shared a few of my experiences with The Toronto Star. Here’s an excerpt:

It makes perfect sense, then, that amid these mountainous peaks surrounded by deep blue ocean, I find artists and artisans everywhere — a mix of Dutch citizens who prefer the island life, and expats who arrived, fell in love and never looked back.

It’s a fact not often mentioned when people speak of Saba. Instead, you’ll commonly hear that the Dutch Caribbean island is a haven for hikers drawn to the cloud and rainforests, and for snorkellers and divers who come for the coral-lined waters. It’s for travellers seeking to get away from city trappings (fast-food joints, skyscrapers and duty-free stores don’t exist here), and for anyone wanting to sink into a pace of life that slows to a drip.

That’s all true, but the luggage at the departure gates — laden with painted ceramics, handmade jewelry and other skilfully crafted souvenirs — tells another story, too. As I discovered, Saba is also a surprise shopping destination, full of creative goods, especially when contrasted with the international, find-them-on-every-island shops on St. Martin.

art sabaart saba Els Mommers craft workshop

My first inkling of Saba’s status as an artisan hub comes in the workshop of jeweller Marie Petit, who turns nature into wearable art. Soon I’m following her into the garden where she grows seed-bearing plants like Job’s tears and donkey eye. Once picked and dried, the colourful seeds inspire her imagination, and she turns them into beads for necklaces and earrings. I try on no less than a half-dozen of her designs and happily leave with my favourite — a double-stranded necklace made with sculptural-looking red “stones” plucked from sword bean pod.

Marie Petit jewelry sabaMarie Petit bead artist

 

Down the road, Jobean Chambers isn’t content with having me try things on at her art studio/gallery. She hands me goggles and sticks of glass, and then talks me through the melting process that allows me to create a necklace of my own. Trained in Corning, N.Y., and Venice, Chambers now teaches students from around the world in her Saban workshop. In the room is a menagerie of delicate critters — multicoloured mermaids, seashell-backed crabs, floating sea horses — which invite shoppers to try their own hand at craft-making. When we finish our mini workshop, the pride I feel in my simple bright orange bauble shows on my face. I waste no time adding it to the growing collection around my neck.

Jobean Chambers’ Glass ArtistJobean Chambers’ Glass Art Mermaid Saba

 

You can read the full story at The Toronto Star.

Want to learn more about planning your own trip to this incredible Art island? Visit Sabatourism.com. 

And if you’re looking for other spots to beat the winter doldrums, take a peek at my story on three spots that do the trick.

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