Who could resist an invitation to a party titled "Passion: Strike, Flame, Heat"?
The fundraiser for Florida Craftsmen was a showcase for the dozen items commissioned for an auction that benefits both the artists and the organization. And it was a feast for the senses, with artists-in-residence from the Morean Center for Clay serving as docents in the home of artist and collector Kathryn Howd. Outdoors, metalsmith Eric Folsom and enamel artist Barbara Lewis played with fire, creating custom pieces. Even the pool had an ethereal, smoky vibe, with lighted orbs floating on the water's surface and co-host Edward Rucks supplying the dry ice that sent wisps into the atmosphere.
The young artists-in-residence also were servers for the evening, passing hors d'oeuvres and other goodies from handmade plates, platters and bowls.
Betsy Lay led the event committee, which included Gail Simpson, Howd, Mary Anna Murphy, Sarah Butz, Laurene O'Connor, Bonita Cobb, Mary Alice McClendon, Kelly Ruoff, Vanessa Wheeler, Carol Cason, Janie Lorenz and Diane Shelly, Florida Craftsmen's executive director.
The online Florida Craftsmen Fine Craft Auction, by the way, runs until 7:20 p.m. on Friday at floridacraftsmen.net. Last bids will be taken through 7:30 p.m. Friday at the auction wrap party at Florida Craftsmen, 501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, and phone bids will be accepted at that time: (727) 821-7391.
The Suncoasters of St. Petersburg civic organization named accountant Wayne "Skipp" Fraser as their 60th Mr. Sun. Fraser is a longtime member and onetime president of the group and has held numerous local and statewide leadership positions.
Ellie Petrillo, a junior at Florida State University, was named Sungoddess Ambassador, and Danielle Price, a senior political science major at the University of Central Florida, is runnerup.
Former Mr. and Ms. Sun honorees present for the Suncoasters Ball, which took place in the Grand Ballroom at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort, were the 2013 Ms. Sun, Beth Houghton; Mary Wyatt Allen; Peter Armacost; David Feaster; James Gillespie; Malcolm King; Gene Oliver; Bill Stover; and Bob Ulrich.
Additional members of the 2014 Sungoddess Ambassador class are Darlyce Beach, a senior marketing major at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg; Allie Coad, a sophomore nursing major at the University of Florida; Evan Hill, a marine science major at the University of Florida; Mimi Milligan, a sophomore political science major at the University of Florida; Haleigh Reddick, a sophomore elementary education major at the University of Florida; and Tyler Weaver, a sophomore health professions major at the University of Florida.