CraftWorks: Countless reasons to come callin’

CHARLES TOWN – Leaders of CraftWorks at Cool Spring invited members of the media from across the region to a special open house last week, offering reporters, photographers and editors a firsthand look at their newly finished “green” studio and other exciting developments.


There’s plenty of reasons aspiring artists, environmentalists, music lovers, students and others will want to check out this eco/art destination just outside Charles Town, including:


• A Master Artist series that begins May 5 with Shepherdstown native JiJi Russell’s “Yoga & Mindful Eating for Vibrant Health.” Others leading workshops scheduled for the months to come include nationally known teachers such as painter Catherine Hillis, poet/playwright Grace Cavaliari and blues legend Johnny Neel.


• ArtScape workshops begin this weekend with the opportunity to learn post-and-beam construction. Organizers say the $60 fee brings not only the chance to get a hands-on building lesson from a master but at the same time contribute to CraftWorks’ future by helping to construct a plein aire painting gazebo.


• It’s almost time for a fresh round of Taste of Two Rivers, the series of warm-weather concerts, films and amazing dinners made special with ingredients from local farms. A hit when it debuted last year, the 2012 season begins at 6 p.m. May 10 at Dish American Bistro at 213 W. Washington St. in Charles Town.

The evening starts with beer from Frederick, Md.’s Flying Dog Brewing and then a tapas-style meal with minted Blue Morning Farm eggplant, grilled Tudor Hall Farm pork sausages with spiced figs and bombolini with chox espresso and smooth ambler bourbon sauce. Diners can register at

• Visit the 81-acre nature preserve on Lloyd Road for an event and you’ll get to explore CraftWorks’ new studio. Built mostly with repurposed materials, it seems like a charming old barn, but it’s the most energy-efficient commercial structure in the region.


• Elementary school students through teens can sign up for Camp Cool Spring, with weeks of programs devoted to pottery, fashion, science, studio art and more. With a weekly fee of $150 plus materials, the camps kick off June 11. Students can register online at CraftWorks also offers a variety of craft and outdoor programs for youngsters during the school year.


• CraftWorks will offer workshops in how to garden, set up a backyard chicken operation, create natural soaps and lotions, build with straw and tackle other tasks. Other Craftworks events coming up include the second-annual Chalk Art Festival in Shepherdstown in September.


David Lillard, director of CraftWorks at Cool Spring, says the nonprofit’s central mission is to open the door for local residents and out-of-town visitors to create art, enjoy live music, exercise and to learn more about sustainability, ecology, healthy living and topics that lead to a richer existence.

He sees CraftWorks as helping make visitors happier and local communities stronger.

“We see ourselves as a center for creative learning,” he said. “Part of the idea of creative learning is that we feel that creative people not only live fuller lives and have outlets for their creativity, but we think they’re more engaged in their community. That’s what we’re all about here.”

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