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In Berea, It’s Christmas all Year Long

Tuesday, 12 18, 2012

Gwen Heffner
gwen.heffner@ky.gov
Information Specialist
Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea
Phone: 859 - 985-5448 X 230

Well-known as the “Folk Arts and Crafts Capital of Kentucky,” Berea is home to many galleries, shops, working artist studios and the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea. One-of-a-kind gifts can always be found throughout the town, with some Berea artisan studios creating gifts especially for Christmas.

Three such artisans, with studios located in the city’s Old Town section, are Lindy Evans, Ken Gastineau and Michelle Weston. These artists create collectible works specific to the holidays that can be found all year long in their shops and at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea.

Lindy Evans began her doll-making career in 1975, creating fabric dolls and animals as gifts for family and friends. She is known for her one-of-a-kind and limited edition Santa dolls developed from studies of real people. Sculpting each face from polymer clay, Evans paints the features and creates the clothing from vintage fabrics. Her Santas range from 10 inches to life-size. One of her full-size Santas is currently on display in the lobby of the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea beside an 18-foot tree decorated with Kentucky crafted toys.

Michelle Weston, who is originally from New Zealand, became interested in glassblowing while in college and went on to earn her Master of Fine Arts degree in glassblowing from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. She currently operates The Glass Studio in Berea, a gallery and studio with a large glass window that allows visitors to watch the glass blowing process. Weston’s original hand-blown glass ornaments are available year-round, and she regularly offers workshops, allowing customers the chance to make their own glass ornaments.

Ken Gastineau is a self-taught jeweler and metal artisan who, together with his wife, Sally, designs and creates a line of sterling and cast pewter jewelry, magnets and ornaments. Having mastered the art of lost wax casting, Gastineau creates ornaments featuring quilt patterns, horses, the Shaker Tree of Life and many other images. Each ornament is packaged with its design story.

Each December, the City of Berea offers visitors a hands-on holiday event with the “12 Days of Christmas” workshops, where visitors can learn how to make their own handmade gifts. In July, the city also presents the two-week “Festival of Learnshops,” offering a wide array of workshops by master craftsmen, artists, musicians, chefs and award-winning writers. Choose from introductory to advanced classes. For more information on these annual events go to www.berea.com

At the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, Christmas-themed presents can also be found year-round. Beautifully carved and painted Santas are available, created by artists such as Doug Ridley, Joe Offerman, Don McClurg and Alan Hedgespeth.  Also popular year-round are chain-sawed cedar Christmas trees by Joe Salyer, wooden Christmas trees turned by Jamie Donaldson, wooden snowmen turned by Greg Kirkland, and wool sculptured Santas and Santa kits by Norma Jean Campbell. Nativity scenes made with gourds and corn-shuck by Donna and Donnie Smith can be found, as well as stone Nativity scenes by Joseph Farmer and wooden Nativity scenes by Inez Nasselrod.

At the center, a wide variety of ornaments abound, including works by Darlene Hellard, Lydia Allen, Christa Smith, David Appalachian Crafts, Donna and Donnie Smith, Patricia Grove, Greg Kirkland, Lonnie and Twyla Money, Joanne Hobbs, Bob Diehl, Patricia Truett, K & M Woodworks, Mary Reed, Dacelle Peckler, Mick and Deb Shambro, Steve Farmer, Janet Burch, Jamie Donaldson, Dick Scheu, Inez Nasselrod and many more.

Find original holiday cards at the Kentucky Artisan Center, along with Christmas-themed stories and cookbooks and recordings by Kentucky musicians.

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is located at 200 Artisan Way, just off Interstate 75 at Berea, Exit 77. The center’s exhibits, shopping and travel information areas are open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the cafe is open from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Admission is free.

The center currently features works by more than 650 artisans from more than 100 counties across the Commonwealth. A special exhibit, “The Threads that Bind: Textile Works by Kentucky Artisans,” is on display through Feb. 23, 2013. For information about the center’s events call 859-985-5448, visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kentucky.artisan.center, or go to the center’s website at www.kentuckyartisancenter.ky.gov

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is an agency in the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.