Artists have a green mindset and a rainbow of offerings

Blue and white flags will be fluttering in the breeze all over Yerba Buena Gardens on June 1, but the prevailing color of the afternoon just might be green.

Being eco-friendly — and boosting the natural beauty of the surroundings — seems to be a prevailing theme among the 30 or so artists selling original, handcrafted designs at this year’s Israel in the Gardens.

Take Andy Greenberg, for example. She spends a majority of her time creating jewelry, but she makes a point of using recycled materials.

That many artists in the shuk, or marketplace, are trying to be especially green this year puts a big smile on Greenberg’s face. After all, she is the coordinator of the Israel in the Gardens artist committee, and she’s glad other artists are on board with the general “greenness” of the event.

“We’ll have more recycling bins and compost bins this year than we had last year,” Greenberg says. “Most of the organizations — besides the artists — are Jewish, and some have a very strong emphasis on all things green.”

Greenberg says the artists at the shuk need to convey this important message, as well.

“Going green couldn’t be more fitting since it’s important to understand what our part can be in saving Mother Earth,” she says, noting the expanding environmental movement in Israel. “Being supportive of Israel and showing support for the environment only makes sense.”

Amy Faust, the owner of Amy Faust Jewelry Designs, will be at this year’s event, and she says the environmental consciousness that navigates her work is part of her upbringing.

“I started by using beach glass in the 1980s, then I transitioned into pottery-making,” she says from her San Francisco studio. “I really enjoy mending together objects that I find broken.”

Faust buys recycled silver and tries to purchase materials from environmentally conscientious suppliers.

“It’s not a perfect, exact science, but the intent is to raise awareness of the environmental issues around jewelry-making,” Faust says. “For example, did you know that in order to make one average-sized gold ring, it takes 20,000 pounds of waste to produce?”

Elissa Wellikson, the owner of Scarves by Elissa, is a former attorney who sells environmentally friendly silk scarves, canvas tote bags, challah covers and tallits mostly at art fairs in the South Bay area.

She said she found her inspiration to paint and begin making art in 2004, after nearly three decades of practicing law.

“I took a lesson in silk-painting from Natasha Foucault at the Palo Alto JCC,” Wellikson says. “I enjoyed that lesson so much that I started making silk pieces for myself and my friends. [Then] someone asked that I do a display at their home. The inventory that remained drove me to keep selling.”

Both Faust and Wellikson will be newcomers at this year’s Israel in the Gardens. Greenberg says the marketplace is ever-evolving.

“The shuk has become more contemporary,” she says. “It has evolved to reflect what people want to see which is something new. Fresh, creative ideas are what we’ve been trying to provide over the years.”

Like Tel Aviv’s Sheinkin District, this year’s shuk will be wrapped with silks, painted with Judaica and surrounded by much activity.

“We really tried to bring in a diversity of talent and price points, and appeal to a wide variety of ages through diverse displays of traditional Judaica and Israeli art,” Greenberg adds.

Expect to see more jewelry and apparel than ever before, she says.

Greenberg, who runs Andygirl Designs, will be selling sterling-wrapped stamps turned into necklace pendants. She credits her grandfather’s Israeli stamp collection for sparking her love of making jewelry.

Greenberg also points out that, for cost-conscious attendees, the shuk offers prices that are very reasonable.

Wellikson’s tallits, for example, fall in the range of $175 to $200, about “half of what you’d pay in other places,” Wellikson says.

But Faust says the prospect of her first Israel in the Gardens is more than just spending — or making — a little green.

“For me,” she says, “it’s just being there and talking to people.”