Tag Archives: Fort Collins

Trimble Court Artisans Offers Convenient Holiday Shopping in Old Town Fort Collins

Trimble Court Artisans, just north of Old Town Square in Fort Collins

Trimble Court Artisans lies just north of Old Town Square in Fort Collins, along an inviting walkway accessed from the Square or from College Avenue.

The holiday rush is on for several artisans I’ve talked to recently. They’re scrambling to meet demand from retail and wholesale customers or to be ready for the next art festival. During the next few weeks, amid a surge of holiday gift buying, you’ll see numerous arts and crafts festivals listed under “What’s Happening,” in the right sidebar of this website, with links to more information.

This week, though, while there’s an unusual lull in large festivals, let’s explore the closest thing to a permanent art festival I know of: Trimble Court Artisans off of Old Town Square in Fort Collins. Here you can buy a gift handcrafted by a local artisan right up to the last minute.

What to Expect When You Visit

Glassware by Dottie Boscamp in the window of Trimble Court Artisans

Glassware by Dottie Boscamp sits in the window of Trimble Court Artisans. Her business Glass Rocks was featured in a post on September 17.

Anytime that you walk into Trimble Court (as the store is called locally) you can meet at least one of the artisans whose work is for sale there. This is an artisans’ co-operative; members take at least one turn a month behind the sales counter. Just ask, and the artisan at the counter will point you or even take you to his or her section of the store.

You may run into other artisans as well. All members of the co-op are responsible for keeping up their own space – cleaning and dusting it, organizing it, and keeping it stocked. That probably explains why all of the current members live along the Front Range of Northern Colorado, although membership only requires that they live somewhere in Colorado.

Ceramic mugs by Trimble Court Artisans

Mugs made by several members of Trimble Court Artisans Co-operative share shelves near the front of the store.

Directly in front of you when you enter the store, a sizable display features work by the artisan of the month. Right now it holds jewelry made by Sarah Blessing; next month Christina Hellyer will set her cottages sculpted from clay in the honored spot. For December, Trimble Court plans a special display – holiday ornaments by any of the artisans who wish to contribute.

Mixing artisans’ work isn’t the norm at Trimble Court; its ongoing display of ceramic mugs by the co-operative’s potters is an exception. Against a wall just to the left of the month’s special showcase stands a set of shelves displaying mugs by several artisans. Trimble Court manager Jill Popplewell told me she enjoys watching customers pick up each one to try it out for weight and feel. The mugs are works of art, but they’re practical too; modern glazes have made them microwave-safe in most cases.

What’s New at Trimble Court Artisans

I have to admit I was surprised when I spent a long time browsing at Trimble Court earlier this month. There’s so much to see that I hadn’t realized on my brief visits during the past year or two just how many new types of merchandise were awaiting discovery.

River rocks decorated by fiber artist Becky Margenau

Inspired by Temari, Becky Margenau covered these river rocks with felt and added elaborate designs with thread. They sell at Trimble Court Artisans for an unbelievably low price.

There are now 58 members of the artisans’ co-operative, more than ever before, including artisans and fine artists. Four times a year, the board considers the work of potential members. It looks for quality work that’s fun, exciting, saleable . . . and unique. Let me show you some things I hadn’t seen the last time I took a really good look around the store.

Fiber art by Becky Margenau sits directly behind the featured showcase. Inspired by the ancient Japanese craft Temari, Becky wraps river rocks tightly with felt and adds intricate designs with shiny thread. Similar designs appear on her ornaments and fanciful pincushions. I’ve done enough stitchery myself to shake my head in disbelief and wonder, “How does she do that?

Felted wool figures by Fran Bowen at Trimble Court Artisans in Fort Collins

Whimsical figures of felted wool by fiber artist Fran Bowen await holiday shoppers at Trimble Court Artisans in Fort Collins.

Around the corner from Becky Margenau’s display I discovered the work of another fiber artist, Fran Bowen. Fran makes whimsical figures by felting wool — a process that tangles wool fibers as the artisan builds three-dimensional shapes.

On the wall nearby hangs fiber art by Diana Zweygardt. Throughout the store, more fine art fills the walls than I had previously seen in Trimble Court. There’s more pottery than ever, too – the work of nearly 20 ceramic artists.

What didn’t surprise me was a fine display of ceramics by Chris Wolff, who was featured in a post on August 24. Kathi Dougherty, featured on September 3, has an eye-catching display of fused glass. In the window is the work of glassblower Dottie Boscamp, whose work appeared in a post on September 17.

Finding the Gift You Want to Give

Trimble Court is open seven days a week, almost every day of the year. By December it will extend its evening hours to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday until December 24, when it will close at 4:00 p.m. More information on hours is on its home page.

Trimble Court Artisans in Fort Collins

Trimble Court Artisans offers a wide variety of handmade items almost every day of the year. Prices are generally as low or lower as you will find at art festivals.

Customers who love an artisan’s work are welcome to contact him or her directly for special requests.  If business cards are missing at an artisan’s display, there are usually extras on a rack below the sales counter. For the convenience of both customer and artisan, a special order placed directly with a member of the co-operative can be picked up at the store.

Trimble Court Artisans has a wonderful website for browsing. Artisans are listed by category, which includes all of those you see on this blog plus items for the home, greeting cards, painting, and photography. In many cases, you can click on artisans’ icons and see more of their work.

I find there’s nothing like seeing something handmade in person, though, to appreciate how beautiful the work is. In case you’ve never been to Trimble Court before, here are some directions to help you find this tucked-away treasure. Walk into the heart of Fort Collins’ Old Town Square, northeast of the intersection of College and Mountain Avenues. When you reach the fountain topped by a sculpture of wild geese, walk through the break in the buildings across from it. You found it — Trimble Court Artisans!

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.


The Bead Stringer: A Glass Act

Gayle Stringer's handmade glass-bead jewelry

Handmade glass beads made these necklaces stand out at The Bead Stringer booth at Loveland’s Art in the Park.

As I wandered through art festivals this summer in Boulder, Loveland, and Fort Collins, I noticed numerous booths where artisans were selling their handmade jewelry. Most of the designs I saw were made primarily of metal . . . some were artfully arranged strands of gemstones . . . others were combinations of metal and gemstones.

Then I fell on the booth of The Bead Stringer at Loveland’s Art in the Park. Gayle Stringer’s stunning glass beads, the only ones I had seen in my wanderings, drew me in for a long, close look.

My eyes soon fixed on the necklace pictured above at lower left. Close up it looked as if she had embedded small white flowers in glass.  “How did you do it?” I asked her. Gayle did better than tell me – she showed me. Continue reading


KDD Fused Glass Studio: Where Science Works Magic

Sample Projects at KDD Fused Glass

The KDD Fused Glass studio delights the eye with samples of items visitors could make.

When Kathi Dougherty opens the garage door of her Fort Collins home, guests are in for a treat.

Brightly colored glass sits on shelves and hangs from pegboards all around the walls.  The designs, the shapes, the mix of colors give new meaning to the expression eye candy. This is the KDD Fused Glass studio, where Kathi works and shares her passion with others.

Getting In on the Magic of Glass

Continue reading


Don’t Miss Fort Collins Studio Tour…Even If You Already Did

Fort Collins Studio Tour booklet

Summer essentials for the artisan aficionado …

Every year for four years, artisans and artists of Fort Collins have opened their studios to the public one weekend in June for a free event called Fort Collins Studio Tour. But here’s the catch: No one can take the entire tour in one weekend.

This year there were about 50 places to visit scattered all over Fort Collins and only 17 hours to get there.

So whether you toured what you could or missed the tour completely, you passed up studios worth exploring. It may be August, but it’s not too late to do some catching up.

Getting Acclimated to the Art Culture of Fort Collins

I’ve lived in Fort Collins for three years now, but this year was the first time that news of the tour caught my attention. I spotted it on the Lincoln Center’s website early in spring when I was looking for what was coming next to the Center’s art gallery.

The Lincoln Center – a hub for the performing and visual arts in Fort Collins – had organized the tour and would be promoting it with an exhibit of sample work by the tour’s artisans and artists. The Center’s tour booklet, handsomely printed on thick, glossy paper, gave me everything I needed to pick studios to visit and to connect them dot-to-dot in a customized route.

And so I set off on a weekend of surprises and delights.

Everywhere I went, artistic people had cleared and cleaned so visitors could really see their work and their creative space. No small feat.  Most of the 16 studios I visited occupied some area of the homes of the artists and artisans – sometimes outbuildings, often basements, and occasionally a room of the house. I was constantly aware of what a privilege it was to enter those private places.

How Slumping Gave Me a Lift

My tour began at a vintage house on Mountain Avenue, the home of Susan Sternlieb. Susan, an avid potter, greeted me graciously as I stepped into her living room. An inviting assortment of refreshments on her coffee table added to the spirit of hospitality which I would experience many times during the tour.

Susan Sternlieb consistently chooses a contemporary look for her pottery.

Susan Sternlieb consistently chooses a contemporary look for her pottery. This bowl was on display during the Fort Collins Studio Tour.

After giving me time to study her bowls, plates, and platters displayed around the room, Susan led me to her studio in the basement. On a large worktable she had thoughtfully laid out each step of the process of making a slumped bowl.

Slumped. I had often wondered what that word meant when I ran across it in pottery descriptions. Some magical process, surely. Susan picked up a well flattened, perfect circle of clay and set it on top of a ring maybe two inches high and somewhat smaller in diameter than the clay circle.

slumped bowl by Susan Sternlieb

Except for the pre-painted design, this slumped bowl will turn creamy white in the intense heat of the kiln.

I enjoyed a silent chuckle as I watched the clay slump into the middle of the ring. No magic necessary–just gravity. The edges of the clay spread out over the top of the ring, reminding me of the shape of a classic soup bowl.

After Susan had completed her demonstration and answered my questions, I moved on to the next thing that caught my eye: A large display rack of ceramic buttons in a variety of sizes, designs, and colors, unlike anything I’d seen before.

Ceramic buttons

Ceramic buttons caught my eye at Susan Sternlieb’s studio.

I thought of the artistic fashion creations I’d seen at the Lincoln Center earlier in the year. It occurred to me that if I were a fabric artist (which I’m definitely not), I would create a costume inspired by Susan’s ceramic buttons.

As I continued my tour to other studios, more warm welcomes and pleasant surprises awaited me. Each Wednesday this month I’ll be sharing more about the people I met, the items I saw, and the moments that captivated me.

How about you? What did you enjoy most on the tour? If you didn’t go on the tour, do you have a favorite artisan in Fort Collins? How about a favorite arts event? Please let me know by clicking “leave a reply” at the top of this page.

Susan Sternlieb’s contemporary pottery and buttons can be viewed by appointment. Email Susan at susans@frii.com. Check out more of Susan’s work in her album on Facebook.