The Blog: A Completed Project

When the blog became a year old in August, people asked me how long I expected to continue. My answer: indefinitely. And so it was a surprise to me when in October I had an inner sense that it was time to move on. I had started the blog for fulfillment, and I realized I had become filled full — delightfully so — even though there were more artisans on my list to interview.

I want to acknowledge my daughter Lisa Gumerman, a web developer who encouraged me to write a blog, directed me to the information and workshops I needed, and customized aspects of the free WordPress theme “Twenty Twelve” for me.

Many thanks to all the artisans who have enriched my life immeasurably by sharing the secrets of their work. It has been a fabulous experience. Below they are listed by category of their craft but in no particular order; several belong in more than one category but are listed only once. Each one taught me something unique.

Please keep their work in mind as you complete your holiday shopping. Several have store fronts, as do artisan aficionados Katie Friedland, Mandy Moscatelli, and Lisa Gibson. The shops, their owners, and their locations appear below the list of artisans.

The Artisans

Ceramics                                                                                                                                                 Susan Sternlieb                                          Slumping                                                                              Cindy O’Neill and Heather Bartmann    Wheel throwing, glazing, and firing                                        Chris Wolff                                                  Wheel throwing, clay selection, and raku                              Diana Begner                                              Crystalline glazes                                                                      Kristin Gruenberger                                   Playful design                                                                            Steve and Jane Fry                                     Making your own clay

Fabric and Fiber                                                                                                                                              Kay Dudek                                                  Felting wool for jewelry, sculpture, and pictures                  Anne Phillips                                              Felting alpaca wool for evening wear fabric                          Una Walker                                                Hooking wool yarn                                                                      Alice Waterson                                          Weaving                                                                                        Kimber Baldwin                                        Spinning                                                                                      David Johnson                                          Tapestry weaving                                                                      Becky Margenau                                      Temari                                                                                            Kelly Gallagher-Abbott                            Long-arm quilting                                                                        Barbara Yates Beasley                            Fine art quilts                                                                              Phillippa Lack                                            Silk painting                                                                                  Fran Bowen                                               Needle felting for small figures                                                Mickey Ramirez                                       Wet felting wool of Jacob sheep for hats                                Kristin McMahan                                      Upcycling old linen into dresses for little girls                        Holly Myers                                               Handstitching animals of wool felt                                          Pat Abbitt                                                   Quilting stuffed animals                                                            Megan Tilley                                              Weaving with fiber, wire, and glass                                Anne Bossert                                            Fiber art by commission

Glass                                                                                                                                                         Kathi Dougherty                                         Fused glass                                                                                 Dottie Boscamp                                          Blown glass                                                                         Gayle Stringer                                             Glass beads  (lampworking)                                                     Karen Cannon and Anne Meier-Davis    Stained glass                                                                      Mary Barron                                               Fused glass

Jewelry                                                                                                                                                              Jacki Marsh                                                 Beads from around the world and back in time                   Jennie Milner                                              Silver and resin                                                                       Heidi Gore                                                  Selling beads, making jewelry, teaching the craft               Allison Freeman and Dana Biebel          Steampunk                                                                               Edú Muñoz                                                 Peruvian design                                                                         Carrie Lambert                                          Crocheting with wire and beads                                       Ryan Gardner                                            Gemstones and silver                                                                 Tom Linenberger and Mark Videan       Gold, silver, and gemstones

Metal                                                                                                                                                               Larry Pryor                                                 Copper wind art and sculpture                                               Carey Hosterman                                      Bronze sculpture

Wood                                                                                                                                                              Dave and Ellen Kisker                              Marquetry                                                                                 Mike Wilkinson                                         Multi-colored functional objects                                               Jamie Lauren                                            Upcycled furniture                                                                       Aaron Nuland                                           Toys                                                                                               Jennifer Kalous                                         Upcycled furniture                                                                       Anne Bossert                                            Furniture in original designs

Other Crafts                                                                                                                                                    Tiffany Miller Russell                               Fine art paper sculpture                                                              Jeff Icenhower                                         Leather from the arts and crafts movement

The Shops

Here are places you can shop up to the last minute. Shops are listed from north to south.

Jukebox Quilts                           Fort Collins              owned by Kelly Gallagher-Abbott                           Kelly makes and displays art quilts, but her store’s specialty is providing everything people need who are inspired to do the same.

Trimble Court Artisans             Fort Collins            an artisan cooperative                                           All of the artisans who sell work here have responsibilities at the store. Here you can find work by these artists featured on the blog: Mike Wilkinson, Becky Margenau, Fran Bowen, and Chris Wolff.

Goldworks                                  Fort Collins             owned by Tom Linenberger                                    Tom and fellow artisan Mark Videan sell the fine jewelry they design and create from Tom’s store on Old Town Square.

Bead Cache                                 Fort Collins            owned by Heidi Gore                                                Heidi sells the jewelry she makes as well as a wide assortment of beads and supplies for making your own.

Medeiros Music                         Loveland                 owned by Mike Medeiros                                        Mike has a variety of handmade stringed instruments to choose from, some of which I had never seen until I walked into his store.

Rabbask Designs                       Loveland                 owned by Jacki Marsh                                              Jacki sells not only her jewelry but the jewelry of several artisans at her store. She carries many other types of locally handmade art as well, some functional, some just lovely.

Rocky Mountain Bronze Shop  Loveland                owned by Carey Hosterman                                  In front of his studio Carey has a display room where you can buy small bronze art.

Evergreen Gallery                      Evergreen                owned by Lisa Gibson                                         This privately owned gallery carries a wide variety of art and handmade goods, all from Colorado artists and artisans.

Show of Hands                            Denver                    owned by K. Friedland and M. Moscatelli            Katie and Mandy are devoted gallery owners who carry handmade goods from Colorado and around the country.

Please think “handmade” whenever you’re shopping for a special gift — and have a beautiful holiday season.


Tiffany Miller Russell Captures Wildlife in Paper

A segment of Anuran Cathedrals, a paper sculpture and collage by Tiffany Miller Russell

“Anuran Cathedrals,” a paper sculpture collage by Tiffany Miller Russell, appeared at the 2015 Governor’s Show in Loveland, Colorado. This segment of the  9″x 20″ work is used with permission of T. Miller Russell.

A love of nature, attention to detail, and infinite patience underlie the art of Tiffany Miller Russell, a wildlife artist in Broomfield, Colorado. Her medium: paper.

Most of the color that you see in her work comes from the paper she selects. That includes the orange stripe on the frog’s back and the thin gills under the mushroom caps in this abbreviated image of her sculpted collage “Anuran Cathedrals.”

The variety of colors along the mushroom stems comes from applying soft pastel dust and  contrasting torn papers to a long piece cut the shape of the stem. As for the gills, Tiffany cut them with a craft knife (more commonly known as an X-Acto knife). They’re actually one continuous piece of paper the size of each mushroom cap.

The gills don’t  look connected to each other because Tiffany has curled back the edge of the caps, true to the character of Xerula mushrooms. The stems look round because she gently bent the paper to look that way.

Unlike a two-dimensional collage, “Anuran Cathedrals” consists of multiple layers softly sculpted and set off from each other. Small blocks of foam core, covered with paper for camouflage, hold the various elements of her composition at varying depths from the paper background.  To see the image of it is a pleasure; to stand in front of it is a jaw-dropping experience.

The Birth of a Paper Animal

Sketches by Tiffany Miller Russell in preparation for paper sculpture

Tiffany Miller Russell sketches an animal in increasing levels of complexity before attempting to create it as a paper sculpture.

Tiffany’s work begins with sketches — lots of them. She studies photographs of the animal she wants to create and makes a series of drawings, adding more details as she proceeds. She visits the zoo and studies the animal’s attitude and how it moves; then she makes more drawings based on her impressions.

When she is satisfied with a drawing at last, Tiffany scans it into her computer and prints it. Over the computer print-out she lays tracing paper lightly sprayed with adhesive on one side. The adhesive holds the paper in place while she traces the part of the body she will cut first. Even more importantly, it holds the tracing paper in place while she cuts the first piece of her collage.

“I use a craft knife for ninety-nine percent of my cutting,” Tiffany told me. That means that her paper lies flat on a cutting mat while she painstakingly retraces a shape with the point of her knife. She finds she gets the best results with Excel blades, which look just like X-Acto blades.

Paper sculpture in progress by Tiffany Miller Russell

Three pieces of paper make up the coils of this snake, a work in progress by Tiffany Miller Russell.

Tiffany worked on one of her limited-edition sculptures while she shared her artistic process with me. She had sponge-painted a white textured paper to use as snake skin. After cutting out the piece that looks like a U in the drawing, she scored it along the line that makes the U look three-dimensional. Holding the edges between her thumbs and forefingers, she slowly bent the paper where she had scored it and all along the edges.

She followed the same procedure to prepare the piece that lies inside the U.

Gluing came next. The adhesive: an acrylic glue that’s acid-free and tacky. The applicator: a toothpick. Tiffany applied a fine line of glue on the underside of the paper where the two pieces would meet. A pair of craft tweezers helped her align the pieces precisely. In the picture above, a third piece lies on the left outer edge, still in need of sculpting and gluing.

In the upper left-hand corner of Tiffany’s website, you can see what the finished work will look like. Well, almost. Tiffany may make up to 20 versions of a limited-edition work, but she selects different paper for each. Many of her works, like “Anuran Cathedrals,” are one of a kind.

Before her compositions are finished, Tiffany can hold her paper animals separately from the rest of the composition — like the sandhill crane below.

Sandhill crane paper collage and sculpture by Tiffany Russell Miller

Tiffany Miller Russell cut, curved, and glued countless pieces of paper to create the feathers and structure of this sandhill crane.

Countless pieces of paper, meticulously cut, curled, and positioned, give the crane color, depth, and complexity. Tiffany and I counted 15 pieces of paper in the head and neck alone. Even the tiny eye consists of three pieces.


Commercial art paper in Tiffany's collection

A wide variety of papers fill the drawers in the studio of artist Tiffany Miller Russell.

As Tiffany opened drawers in her studio to show me her paper collection, my eyes enjoyed a proverbial feast.

There were marbled papers and iridescent papers; smooth papers, textured papers, and handmade papers; sheets that draped like fabric and sheets with holes like lace.

They’re a source of inspiration to her, Tiffany told me. Often a paper’s color and design will give her an idea for a project.

When Tiffany selects a paper like those pictured here, she chooses the area very carefully where she will cut. She moves her tracing paper pattern over the paper, turning it this way and that until the colors and lines below it give the effect she wants.

Her favorite places to buy art paper are Meininger and Guiry’s, both locally owned art stores. Tiffany is no paper snob, however. In addition to commercial art papers, she keeps a sizable collection of scrapbooking papers in a multitude of colors and patterns.

Current Projects, Upcoming Shows

Paper sculpture of female hummingbird by Tiffany Miller Russell

“Magnificent” features a male hummingbird, a paper sculpture  by Tiffany Miller Russell.

Tiffany is working on her second hummingbird. When it’s complete, she will have a male and a female to hang side by side. A single foam core block, covered with the same paper as the background, holds the completed bird aloft, as if it were truly in flight.

I first saw Tiffany’s work at the 2015 Governor’s Show in Loveland. Her next public show will be in February. Niza Knoll Gallery in Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe will display award winners from the 2015 Summer Art Market.

You can learn more about Tiffany’s work and the ideas that inspire her on her website at


Kay Dudek Explores the Endless Possibilities of Wool

Necklace with felted beads by Kaye Dudek

Kay Dudek used felting processes, both wet and dry, to make the orange beads in this necklace. She added wood and metal beads for artistic effect.

What can you make with wool? If you visit Kay Dudek’s studio in Fort Collins, you might believe the answer is — just about everything.

Purses, jewelry, lampshades, hair ornaments, vessels, sculpture, toys, flowers, and art to frame and hang. Kay makes all of these plus shawls, mittens, and fabric without spinning, crocheting, knitting, or weaving.

The tiny scales along the surface of wool fibers catch on each other permanently when the fibers are rubbed together mechanically. Add a little soapy water, and the scales join even more strongly. The process is called felting — needle felting if the wool is dry, or wet felting if soap and water are used.

When Kay works at the felting process long enough, she can turn fluffy wool fibers into dense objects that have almost no give to them, like the orange beads in the necklace pictured above. Continue reading


Lost in Denver: The Adventure of an Artisan Aficionado

Skyline Park on a Denver Metro map

Skyline Park in downtown Denver is a faint green line on a Denver metropolitan street map.

I stood near the corner of 13th and Speer turning my Denver Metropolitan map this way and that, trying to orient it the same way I was looking. The street sign a few yards away said Fox Street, but my map didn’t show it. Skyline Park, my destination, was a thin, short line of green where more than a dozen roads filled a square inch of paper.

I had never been here before. I hadn’t been anywhere in the area that defines Denver’s skyline since I moved to Colorado four years ago. Although I was the only pedestrian in sight, I was sure that if I walked a little way up 13th, others would soon join me on their way to the Handmade in Colorado Expo in Skyline Park. Continue reading


Playing with Clay Becomes an Art in the Hands of Kristin Gruenberger

In the playful spirit of today’s subject, let’s start with a riddle: When is a pot not a pot?

Ceramic vessels become playful creations by Kristin Gruenberger

Kristin Gruenberger’s playful ceramic creations begin with wheel-thrown pots like these.

Answer: When it’s joined with other pots to become something else. In the picture below, ceramic artist Kristin Gruenberger holds some of the pieces pictured above. When she holds them in this order, do they remind you of anything? Think transportation and 1800’s. Continue reading