Monthly Archives: November 2014

Words of Thanksgiving, Pictures of Christmas

Christmas ornaments by Becky Margenau

The Japanese craft of temari inspired these ornaments by Becky Margenau. This photo was taken in October at Trimble Court Artisans in Fort Collins.

It’s the day before Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Across the country millions of people are either making preparations for tomorrow or traveling.

Especially at this busy time, I want to thank you for being a loyal reader. No announcement by an artisan or gallery led you here today. Thank you for being an essential part of this blog . . . for letting me share with you the fascinating world of artisans on the Front Range.

Some of you don’t live in the United States, let alone Colorado, and I’m honored indeed. I hope you’ll leave a comment (click “leave a reply” below today’s title) about where you’re from and what drew you here.

Ceramic cottages by Christina Hellyer

Light glows through windows in ceramic cottages by Christina Hellyer. Her work has been featured at Trimble Court Artisans this month.

If you also happen to be one of the artisans featured on the blog, please accept an extra thank you for trusting me. It took a leap of faith, I think, to let me photograph your work and tell your story – particularly if we met in summer, when you didn’t have previous posts to view.

I’m grateful for the idea of writing this blog. The idea seemed to come from . . . I’ll let you finish the sentence. Whatever you put there I accept; very likely it is true at least in part.

Handblown glass ornament at The Evergreen Gallery

This handblown glass ornament by Paul Lockwood  was on display at The Evergreen Gallery earlier this month.

I’m grateful for my older daughter, an English teacher whom I playfully call my editor. She has given me some creative titles and subtitles for posts, and my conversations with her have catalyzed my own creativity for many others. The posts are better because of the many paragraphs I’ve polished while reading them to her.

I’m grateful for my younger daughter, a web developer who led me to the idea of writing a blog when I was looking for what to do next with my life. She helped me launch this website and has refined its appearance and functionality. Not only has she graciously supported me through technical difficulties, but she has also led me to workshops and meetings where I could learn to help myself.

Long-horned sheep of felted wool by Fran Bowen

Long-horned sheep made of felted wool looked ready for the holiday season in October at Trimble Court Artisans. Their creator Fran Bowen will be featured here in next week’s post.

Finally, I’m grateful for my husband, the father of my two children, who encourages me to do whatever makes me happy. The more I follow my own vision, the more he admires me, it seems. What a blessing!

I hope your list of blessings is a long one. And I hope you enjoy the signs of the season in today’s photos.

Have a lovely Thanksgiving.

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From Sheep to Hat Rack, Mickey Ramirez Sees Spots

Felted wool hats by Mickey Ramirez of Fort Collins.

Mickey Ramirez of Fort Collins designs felted wool hats with spots, reminiscent of the Jacob sheep that provide the wool.

On an acre of land just outside the northwest edge of Fort Collins, 15 Jacob sheep grow woolier by the week. You would never know they are there, though, as you drive by on Mulberry Street. They’re hidden from view behind the home of Mickey Ramirez and her husband John Pierson. If the sheep cared to look through a back window of the house, they might be able to see the hats that Mickey has made from the wool they were growing a year ago.

All the hats have spots, just as all the sheep do. Made of undyed wool, each hat comes exclusively from the wool of one sheep for uniformity of color and texture. Just as all the sheep are different from each other, so are all the hats.

Not every sheep on the lot contributes to Mickey’s hat making. It takes plenty of crimp and a minimum of kemp – coarse hairs that stick out in every direction – to be the kind of wool that Mickey can work into a rich, smooth felt. Jacob sheep are a heritage breed and haven’t been bred to eliminate or foster particular characteristics. Nonetheless, Mickey has a place in her heart for every sheep that she and John own. Continue reading

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For Fun, Give Me a Show of Hands

Fourth and final in a series on where to find exceptional, handcrafted holiday gifts

Folk art by Alan Moore family and Joyce Curvin in Show of Hands in Denver

At Show of Hands in Denver, folk art by the Alan Moore family of Littleton, Colorado, hangs on the wall above whimsical animals by Joyce Curvin of Florida. About 25% of the artisans represented at the gallery are local.

When I walked into Show of Hands in Denver last week, the first thing I saw was the display you see at right. Bright colors, whimsy, folk art . . . immediately I caught the light-hearted mood developed by business partners Mandy Moscatelli and Katie Friedland, who purchased Show of Hands three years ago. I would soon learn that they want more than anything else to have Show of Hands be “a happy place,” where people of all ages and means can feel good and find handmade items they can afford.

It’s your turn to browse while I pass along what Katie shared about Show of Hands and the vision she and Mandy hold for the future of “handmade” wherever it’s found. Continue reading

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The Evergreen Gallery – Making a Day of It

Third in a series on where to find exceptional, handcrafted holiday gifts

Evergreen, Colorado, lies tucked into the mountains not far west of Denver. I hadn’t been there in several years, so it was a treat to leave I-70 and follow Evergreen Parkway toward town last week. Beautiful pine forests cover the low mountains that surround the parkway as it curves gently for eight miles to the heart of Evergreen.

When the road started to edge Evergreen Lake, I knew I was almost at my destination: The Evergreen Gallery. The drive from Fort Collins had taken an hour and a half – and it was well worth it.

So Much to See

Pottery by Meryl Sabeff, original owner of The Evergreen Gallery

Pottery by Meryl Sabeff of Evergreen, Colorado, original owner of The Evergreen Gallery

The Evergreen Gallery celebrated its 27th anniversary last month, an impressive accomplishment for this privately owned shop. Over half of the artisans whose work is displayed here live and work along the Front Range. That includes Meryl Sabeff, the original owner, who still lives in Evergreen and actively creates pottery to sell at the gallery. The photo at left shows one of her four styles of functional ware now available.

Lisa Gibson, current owner, kindly showed me around the gallery and pointed out things I might have missed in this showcase of almost 100 artisans. Much of the work was so unique and so beautifully made that it was like going on a docent-led tour of a museum — except that you can take the art home with you if you want to.

Kaleidoscope by Henry Bergeson of Conifer, Colorado

Kaleidoscope by Henry Bergeson of Conifer, Colorado

She showed me the kaleidoscope pictured at right, by Henry Bergeson of Conifer, Colorado. You don’t pick it up to view it – you just look down into it, as if it were a telescope pointing down. In back, two lights have been integrated into the kaleidoscope to illuminate a clear barrel of trinkets floating in glycerin that the lens turns into fascinating designs. Smaller kaleidoscope designs, also by Henry Bergeson, do require that you pick them up; the beautifully finished and shaped wood makes that a pure pleasure. Like the larger one pictured here, these kaleidoscopes on their stands have such grace and beauty, they are true works of art.

Doll by Mary Jane Butler of Littleton, Colorado

Doll by Mary Jane Butler of Littleton, Colorado.

 

 

So are the dolls by Mary Jane Butler of Littleton, Colorado. Notice how the doll pictured at left seems to look right at you, as if she were waiting for what you were going to say next. Lisa explained that the head is sculpted from polymer clay, but the upper body is made of wood. This line of  dolls is actually made to hang on a wall. Artfully quilted fabric creates the skirt of the dress, which is weighted along the hemline by a small branch of wood. Even looking at the work in person, I couldn’t tell where the fabric ended and the painted bodice began.

Animal masks by Hilarey Walker

Animal masks by Hilarey Walker

 

On a wall nearby hang animal masks by Hilarey Walker, who recently moved back to Colorado. Made primarily of clay, the masks are fired and then painted with acrylics. Metal ornaments and decorative papers, sometimes objects from nature add stunning detail.

I’m not sure if any photograph could truly catch how beautiful the masks are. Maybe that’s because the artisan’s vision of the animal and the ancient culture influencing each mask can only be captured fully in three-dimensional form. People rarely buy only one, Lisa told me; they collect them over time.

Ceramic figures by Jennifer Rudkin of Louisville, Colorado

Fine Art Whimsy by Jennifer Rudkin of Louisville, Colorado

Jennifer Rudkin of Louisville, Colorado, takes a completely different approach to portraying the character of animals in the line she calls Fine Art Whimsy. Her figures, sculpted in clay, are as playful as the masks are serious. In fact, she sometimes includes an antique toy with one of her figures to accent the spirit of fun.

Notice the dog with the bone on top of the backhoe in the picture at left; another bone lies in wait in the bucket. Not far away, a bear is ready to roll away on an actual antique roller skate with a ceramic beehive on the front. The photo shows only a portion of the Fine Art Whimsy that the gallery carries.

So Much to Enjoy

There was so much to see and marvel over that I took a lunch break before spending a couple more hours at the gallery. At Lisa’s suggestion, I walked a block to the Muddy Buck coffee shop, which occupies the former lobby of the Evergreen Hotel. The warm, eclectic décor was delightful, and lunch was delicious.

On my way back to the gallery, I stopped by Seasonally Yours. The candy shop drew me in with its sign for pumpkin praline fudge, its seasonal specialty this month — heavenly, even though there’s no chocolate about it. Had I not been planning to drop in on a fiber arts event on my way back to Fort Collins, I would have added a walk by the lake to the day’s outing. Any concerns that I had about the distance of the trip had long since evaporated.

The Evergreen Gallery, located at 28195 Hwy 74, Evergreen, is open seven days a week. Hours are listed on its website under “contact us.” The website also offers examples of all the work the gallery carries — but you won’t really know how beautiful the artwork is until you treat yourself to a day like mine.

Before the holidays distract you and you forget how much you enjoy “Handmade on the Front Range,” be sure to sign up for e-mail reminders of new posts. Scroll through the right sidebar, and you’ll find the place.

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