Artisan Tour designed
to promote areas talent
Rising Sun team up to boost tourism
(April 2008) Visitors to the home of Jerry Wallin
of Vevay, Ind., will be impressed by a collection of what looks to be
original 17th-century Windsor chairs. Instead, the meticulous reproductions
were handcrafted by Wallin, who even used historically accurate tools
to craft the chairs.
Indiana Edition Cover
Wallins striking creativity, along with about 40
other unique area artisans, will be highlighted in an upcoming studio
tour throughout the southeast Indiana counties of Switzerland and Ohio.
Tourism offices in both counties have joined together to create a unique
tour of arts studios that will allow the public to interact with artists
during the actual creation process.
On April 26-27, art lovers will get chance to tour more than 31 unique
studios and talk to nearly 40 artists during the Creative Spaces
Rural Places Arts Tour. The arts trail will run through Rising
Sun and Vevay and the rural areas of both counties. Many of the tour
stops will be sprinkled along the Ohio River Scenic Byway, which runs
along the Ohio River.
While it is somewhat unusual for two counties to sponsor such an event
together, Rising Sun-Ohio County Tourism Executive Director Sherry Timms
said the project works because the two counties are so similar. Both
counties are known as art destinations, she said. We want
to offer people an adventure in arts; we believe they will enjoy each
unique studio in different ways.
The idea for the arts tour developed after several state and county
tourism officials traveled to West Virginia and North Carolina together
to examine two different, but successful, artisan development projects.
Led by tourism official Becky Anderson, North Carolina created an artisan
trail project that has become a model for other states and communities.
Anderson spoke about the project at last year s Hoosier Hospitality
Conference in Indianapolis and this year presented the program in Vevay
to area tourism officials and business owners. From there, tourism officials
in Switzerland and Ohio counties decided to try a trail of their own
and dubbed their project the Creative Spaces-Rural Places Tour.
Angie Satterfield, project coordinator for Switzerland Countys
Visions Project, said the projects goals are to create collaboration
within the region, increase tourism and public awareness and create
economic drivers for the area. It is going to be an exciting opportunity
for both the public and the artisans, she said. We hope
to make this an annual event.
During the Creative Spaces-Rural Places tours, artisans range
from unique fine jewelry makers, sculptors, potters, and painters to
doll makers, floral arrangers, woodworkers and an internationally renowned
get a rare
finished art products but
process as well.
David Attaway, Switzerland Co. Tourism Director
The public will get a rare exposure to not only
finished art products but the entire process as well, said Switzerland
County Tourism Executive Director David Attaway.
There are very unique studio spaces for people to enjoy; they
will get to experience art from one end of the spectrum to the other,
Wallin spent countless hours researching the exact dimensions, historically
accurate woods, production processes and patterns for the various styles
of Windsor chairs. These chairs originated during the 17th century in
England and were primarily used as garden chairs, according to Wallin.
They were introduced in America in 1726 by then-Pennsylvania Gov. Patrick
Wallin, an award-winning mastersmith who owns and operates the historic
Wallin Forge, has been doing wordworking for years as a hobby. When
approached by tourism officials to be included on the artisan tour,
he decided it would be a prime opportunity to showcase his Windsor chair
reproductions and demonstrate the actual process for tour guests.
We decided this would be a wonderful chance to show people the
handcrafting process and to let them see how unique these chairs are,
said Sandra Wallin, Jerrys wife.
There will be four or five different styles of chairs on display and
a demonstration area situated on the Wallins two-story, stone-flagged
covered porch at 107 W. Market St, Vevay. The porch on the backside
of their historic 1835 brick home has a picturesque view of the Ohio
While in Vevay, tour guests will stop at the historic Carriage House,
where they will see a display of unusual dolls created by fabric artist
Debbie Foster, 50. Her Societys Forgotten dolls, are
created from scrap and vintage fabric and then hand-painted.
Each of these unique dolls depict societal problems, such as homelessness,
child abuse, poverty, mental illness, injured veterans and racism.
I make these dolls to raise public awareness to our countrys
problems, said Foster. They arent terribly pretty;
I dress them to look the part. One of her dolls is a black doll
that holds a sign reading, If you were blind, you wouldnt
care about my color.
Each one of her dolls, which can be found from New York to California,
has a tag that reminds people that others can be far less fortunate.
I want to use my dolls to spread compassion.
Foster will be available during the studio tour to show visitors how
she makes her dolls. She also makes quilts, quilted wall hangings, painted
quilts and clay sculpture.
Another stop in Switzerland County will be in Lamb, Ind., at Stonehouse
Creations. Visitors will step inside the 190-year-old home situated
along Hwy. 56 to view Vickie Althoffs dried floral arrangements.
She will also demonstrate how to make floral arrangements. Fine jewelry
maker Debbie Reisenback will be be displaying her creations at Althoffs
Althoff, 54, works for the Switzerland County Sheriffs Department.
In her spare time, she raises herbs and flowers in her greenhouse and
for 25 years has been creating dried floral arrangements.
courtesy of the
Switzerland County Welcome Center.
Ann Farnsley stands
outside her studio in Vevay.
I grow, gather or pluck my materials, she
said. I really enjoy creating these arrangements. Although
she primarily works with dried plants, Althoff will also do silk and
fresh flower arrangements. She said she stays busy doing events, such
as weddings, and is working with her daughter, Jessica, to expand their
greenhouse operations and flower production. We are hoping to
eventually expand our business and offer group teas and floral workshops,
In Rising Sun, Ind., trail followers will be treated to an uncommon
delight when at William Rees Instruments, located at 222 Main St. Rees,
58, is an internationally renowned harp maker. His hand-carved and hand-painted
harps are shipped all over the world. Some of the finest harpists in
the world, including the top four world-class Irish harpists, use his
We have a unique design to our soundboard and backs, which set
us apart from other harp makers, said Rees.
His shop is listed on the American Automobile Associations
Travel Treasures of the Midwest because visitors can actually
watch harps being made.
He relocated his business nearly eight years ago from Yosemite, Calif.,
to Rising Sun because of the citys efforts to develop arts as
an economic tool. I think this tour is a good thing, he
said. I hope officials continue to do this kind of projects.
In 1990, nationally renown artist Vera Curnow founded the Colored Pencil
Society of America, an organization dedicated to artists who use colored
pencils as their medium. Today, that society boasts more than 2,000
Her Main Artery studio in Rising Sun will have many of her colored pencil
works on display, as well as her fused glass jewelry and assemblages,
which are wall hangings constructed from found objects.
She believes the artisan tour is an excellent way to provide
exposure to artists. Indiana is aggressively supportive of artisans,
she said. It is a great place for us to live.
Recently, Indiana tourism officials Eric Freeman and Brian Blackford
visited the two counties to discuss the tour and other artisan development
initiatives by county tourism officials. The efforts in Switzerland
and Ohio counties to increase public awareness of their artisans are
just incredible, said Freeman, the newly appointed Artisan Development
Project Manager. Those counties are doing things others in the
The Indiana Office of Tourism Development, Office of Community and Rural
Affairs, the Indiana Arts Commission, and the Indiana Department of
Agriculture are collaborating on a project, the Indiana Artisan Development
Program. Its mission is to develop a brand that gives meaning and recognition
to Indiana-made goods and enhance entrepreneurial efforts in cultural
creativity, Freeman said.
The initiative in Switzerland and Ohio counties is being looked at as
one model for the state project. Eventually, the efforts in those
counties will become a national model, said Freeman, who previously
worked for two years in public relations at Hanover College.
In December 2007, Indiana Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman announced the launch
of the state tourism project. Indiana is home to hundreds of talented
artisans and boasts a variety of unique handmade products, she
said in a statement. Governor (Mitch) Daniels and I are committed
to supporting Hoosier entrepreneurs and promoting Indiana-made products.
This project provides a unique opportunity to enhance the entrepreneurial
culture that has been created in Indiana and attract visitors to our
The project is being funded by a $350,000 grant provided by the Indiana
Office of Community and Rural Affairs to the Indiana Arts Commission.
Part of the funds will be re-granted for communities to develop arts
trails, offer workshops and other artisan development projects.
According to Freeman, the goals of the project include:
Raising awareness about the availability of hand-crafted and
value added food products made in Indiana;
Providing artisans, particularly those in rural areas, with access
to entrepreneurial support;
Providing grant funding for artisan business development education
Promoting artisan trail development and retail opportunities;
Developing branding for Indiana-made goods.
We are dedicated to helping artisans develop their business,
said Freeman. At the same time, we know that arts bring tourists
to our state.
Blackford, development director for Indiana Office of Tourism Development,
said recent studies have shown cultural tourism is a growing industry.
People interested in arts come to our state and stay longer,
he said. This project will not only help artisans, but it will
help communities as well.
Currently, Freeman has acquired a database of about 2,500 Indiana artisans
and food producers that he will contact about the project. We
want to get the word out to every artist in the state about the program,
Linda Lytle, executive director of the Madison Area Convention and Visitors
Bureau, said Jefferson County, Ind., is already involved in the state
initiative through the Ohio River Scenic Byways project. That project
developed several years ago through a Federal Highways Administration
grant. As part of the project, several artisan trails throughout southern
Indiana are being developed. We were ahead of the state game by
several years, said Lytle. We hope to eventually merge the
trails into the state program.
The Ohio Scenic Byways program has also compiled a list of 300 Southern
Indiana artists from 21 counties. The searchable database is available
on its website: www.ohioriverscenicroute.org. Those artisans are now
part of the state tourism artisan projects list.
courtesy of the Switzerland County Welcome Center.
Starker works on
a woodworking project
at his studio in Vevay.
Lytle said Madison has many artists and draws arts-oriented
tourists to the area. We intend to be in position to move in and
be an active part of the state program.
To participate in the state artisan project, artisans and food producers
will have to undergo an adjudication process. There is absolutely
no cost to the artisan; however, the jurying process will be fairly
difficult in order to promote the quality of the products, said
Artisans who dont jury into the program will not be turned away.
Instead, they will be offered workshops to help improve their product
development. You wont be let go, said Freeman. We
want to eventually take everybody in.
Artwork will include fine art, folk art and crafts, multi-arts, photography,
craftwork, woodwork, ceramics, pottery, painting and drawing. sculpting,
glasswork, jewelry, papercraft, candles, metal and ironwork, tinware,
clothing, furniture, basketry, fiber art, leatherwork, toys and games,
graphics, printmaking, musical instruments, quilt and knit and needlework,
and home and outdoor accessories.
Value-added foods and products will include jams and jellies, dry mixes,
syrups, honey, soaps and lotions, spices, wine, cheee, meats and jerky,
milk and ice cream, yogurt, noodles, sauces and salsa, beer, bread,
pastries and baked goods, candies and chocolates.
Applications are expected to be available in May for artisans interested
in the program. By the time the first artists are juried into the project,
the state will have created a logo and branding design, Blackford said.
He added that several designs have been submitted for possible use.
At first, the state artisan projects products will be available
at state historic sites, including the Indiana State Museum. Displays
and signage will be developed for the products. Retailers who
are interested in displaying our products should definitely contact
us, said Freeman.
All Indiana artisans and value added foods
and products creators interested in the adjudication process should
contact Eric Freeman at (317) 607-8715 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Indiana Artisan Development Project is housed in the Indiana Arts
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