Sarah (Benny) O’Brien can’t help creating
by Peggy Miles
I believe strongly that art is everywhere…everyone should be open to the beautiful things in life.”
If you’ve had the pleasure of interacting with Sarah O’Brien (perhaps at a craft fair, the farmer’s market or on Facebook) she has a way of making you feel as though you are a gleeful spectator of the ongoing street festival whirling around this peppy lover of life.
To say that this smiley redhead has an enthusiastic nature is a gross understatement. I’ve seen her express great gusto for everything from local food to the everyday antics of her toddler, and basically for her surroundings and life in general. Employed full time at an organic farm in Bedeque, she is earnest about her involvement in bringing “real, affordable food to Islanders.”
Originally from Sudbury, Ontario, Sarah now resides in Borden with her husband Owen and son Rory. She is recognizable by the tattoos that run up and down her arms.
Sarah (also known as Benny) describes herself as a “maker.” “I’m one of those people who just needs to work with their hands.” Whether you describe her as a maker, an artisan or a crafter, one of Sarah’s focuses is using reclaimed materials in order to reduce waste. She takes scratched vinyl records upon which she paints intricate mandalas (spiritual symbols), resulting in dynamic art pieces suitable for the home. She makes vinyl cuff bracelets and guitar string jewellery as well. One of the first records she painted is displayed at Back Alley Disks in Charlottetown, and they can also be found on the wall at Samuel’s Coffee House in Summerside. Sarah and her vinyl work have been featured during Culture Summerside’s Art in Motion festival.
I’m a big fan of the all-natural children’s toys she crafts, including adorable wooden gnomes and play villages made from recycled wool. The holder of a Red Seal chef certification, Sarah will be selling gourmet granola at this year’s Emerald Craft Fair. Her creative skills don’t end there. She’s also done henna tattoos, baked wedding cakes, crocheted hats, and performed tissue paper crafting. The crafty character also spent time employed with a local pottery company, gaining skills that allowed her to produce pieces for local craft fairs. “I’m just a creative person who needs to let it out sometimes,” she shares.
Sarah’s wares can be found on Etsy at bennyandthejet.etsy.com. Where did the Benny reference come from? She and her best friend shared the same name in high school, thus Sarah became Benny, a nod to her maiden name, Bennetto. A few years later, driving her mother’s purple station wagon and pulled over for speeding, the police officer likened the car to a jet. Thus in Sarah’s festival of life, Benny and the Jet was born.