A tour de force this weekend

[cleeng_content id="808592388" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]Over the Mountain Studio Tour showcases 21 amazing artists

It’s been nearly a quarter-century since basket weaver Anne Bowers came up with the idea of inviting in the public for an insider’s look at how Jefferson County’s best crafters and artists go about their work.

“I thought how nice it would be to show people our workshops, materials, the pieces we’re working on,” Bowers said in a recent interview. “Instead of just seeing one of our finished products on a shelf at a show, they get to see the whole story of who we are as artists.”

In the news release sent out by Bowers and other organizers of the tour, the founder and director of the nonprofit Craftworks at Cool Spring in Charles Town Linda Case describes the weekend event this way: “It’s the artists’ version of the farmers market – you visit, ask questions and there is a real transaction with your neighbor.”

The tour, happening from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, is free and open to anyone. Visitors make their way from one studio to the next at the pace they chose – stopping in at all nine studios or only some, completing their tour in a single day or spread out over both Saturday and Sunday.

“When you visit an artist’s studio, you have the opportunity to go in-depth and to begin to see things from the artist’s perspective,” explains Joy Bridy, who has been on the tour for five years and helped organize this year’s event. “Instead of seeing just the finished object, you get to see the artist’s whole lifestyle.”

With 21 artists on the tour, visitors will get to see one-of-a-kind works including hand-hewn bowls, heirloom baskets, stained glass, folk art, pottery, fine furniture, hand-sewn bears, forged ironworks, wood sculpture, mixed-media collages, polymer clay art, jewelry, needle art creations and oil, acrylic, and watercolor paintings.

This year’s tour adds set demonstration times throughout the weekend so that visitors can ensure they get to see artists working. (The schedule for demonstrations is included in the “A look at the tour” box with this article and also online at studiotourwv.org.)

Bridy said visitors to her wood-fired pottery studio in Shenandoah Junction –the tour’s sixth stop – always enjoy seeing her tools, the wood-fired kiln she built after buying the property five years ago and how she organizes her space, but she said they particularly love to watch her work.

The moment she transforms a mound of clay into a 12-inch cylinder is always a “wow,” Bridy said. “I’m doing it for the umpteenth time, I don’t even think about it, but when visitors watch me do it, you see their eyes just light up,” she said. “It’s like magic.”

Besides offering the public insight into the spectrum of art handmade in the county, the tour pays off for the artists – the purchases visitors make during the tour help enable artists to continue to live and work in Jefferson County – but also provide dividends for the community as a whole.

“The Studio Tour reminds us to shop local and shop handmade,” Case said. “When we do those two things, then every dollar stays in our county and helps to grow our community and our culture.”


Want to go?

What: Over the Mountain Studio Tour

Where: A self-guided tour with nine stops in Charles Town, Kearneysville, Shenandoah Junction and Shepherdstown. Red arrows direct will visitors along the route

When: 10 a.m. to 5 pm. Saturday and Sunday

How much: Free

What else: Door prizes are a feature at every stop on the tour. All 21 participating artists offer an item or gift certificate, with winners to be notified by email or phone

For more details: A printable map and other information is available online to studiotourwv.org or call 304-725-0567


A look at the lineup

Stop 1: Cabinet maker Tom McGarry will welcome visitors at his Birnam Wood Joinery studio at 302 N. Mildred St. in Charles Town. Demonstrations are set for 11 a.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.

Stop 2: Watercolor painter Mikkey Tarantino hosts wood artist Bruce Fransen and freeform knitter Susan Shildmyer at Tarantino’s studio at 6485 Summit Point Road in Charles Town. Demonstrations are set for noon Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

Stop 3: Three artists – Linda Case (who works in clay), Tara Bell (mixed-media) and Margot Ours (needlework) – will be at Craftworks at Cool Spring, 1469 Lloyd Road in Charles Town. Demonstrations are set for 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Stop 4: Heirloom basketmaker Anne Bowers, brown bear crafter Treva Blackford and jewelry maker Fran Brolle will be at Bowers’ studio at 272 Mason Farm Road in Kearneysville. Demonstrations are set for 2 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.

Stop 5: Potters Pam and Ren Parziale and Steve Adams, who makes sculptured wood bowls and serving boards, will greet the public at the Parziales’ Sycamore Pottery studio at 5210 Paynes Ford Road in Kearneysville. Demonstrations are set for 3 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday.

Stop 6: Joy Bridy’s wood-fired pottery studio is located at 2533 Warm Springs Road in Shenandoah Junction. Demonstrations are set for 2 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.

Stop 7: Woodcarver Nancy Streeter joins blacksmith Eric Johnson at his working farm, complete with forge, goats, geese, cattle, peacock and Tunis sheep at 251 Southwood Drive in Kearneysville. Demonstrations are set for 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Stop 8: Stained glass artist Sheila Brannan and Pat Langerhans, who makes primitive folk art cloth creations, will be at Brannan’s studio at 302 W. Washington St. in downtown Shepherdstown. Demonstrations are set for noon Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

Stop 9: Painter Doug Kinnett hosts silver jewelry maker Carrie Singer and mixed-media artist Rebecca Grace Jones at his home at 409 Howard Farm Road in Shepherdstown. Demonstrations are set for 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday.


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