Black Friday alternative: Covered Bridge Artisans annual studio tour
The turkey's been brined, stuffed and roasted, and now you're stuffed. Time to pack up the leftovers and go for a ride, touring artists studios in the countryside.
The Covered Bridge Artisans Annual Studio Tour, Friday through Sunday, Nov. 23-25, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., is a self-guided event in New Jersey's Hunterdon County. If you ignore the road signs, you can pretend you're in Vermont –rolling hills, red barns, stone cottages. A detailed map is available.
Fields of sheep, horses and chickens, and the eponymous covered bridge inspire impressionistic paintings, stained glass, hand-dyed and handspun yarn, ceramics, sculpture and metal fabrication, as well as leather work and jewelry. Inside the studios, a spicy brew may be wafting from the kettle as you watch how the artwork is made and mingle with friendly artists.
The seven artists' studios are in Lambertville, Stockton and Sergeantsville, with an additional 11 artists at the Ginny Naparano Cultural Arts Center in Sergeantsville.
Sunflower Glass Studio
Karen and Geoff Caldwell have been crafting colorful windows and accessories for 35 years at Sunflower Glass Studio, adjacent to their 1872 gingerbread Victorian in Sergeantsville. There is stained, beveled and leaded glass everywhere — even the bathroom door in the studio has a stained glass window, with blue diamond shapes against white. Creating stained glass work requires the talent, skills and design capabilities of both artist and craftsperson, and the Caldwells supply both. Beyond windows there are other treasures, from fused glass tableware to baubles. Ms. Caldwell's pastel paintings fill in the nooks.
Long Lane Farm Studio
Phoebe Wiley is one of the founding members of the Covered Bridge Artisans, and her Pottery at Long Lane Farm is a piece of paradise. To get there you drive through scenic countryside until you think you are lost, and then you take the long, long lane that lends its name. Chickens, cows and Jack Russell Terriers enjoy life on this 30-acre farm. With rambling barns and gardens, the artist's source material is right here for everything from majolica vessels to paintings.
Constance Bassett and David Cann can sometimes be seen atop Philadelphia's City Hall, doing restoration work on the 37-foot bronze statue of William Penn. When not climbing tall buildings, they do restoration for museums, including Philadelphia Museum of Art. Here in the countryside, where they live in a restored 18th-century stone house, they produce paintings, sculpture and home furnishings that reflect the region and its history.
Swan Street Studio
Katherine Hackl makes Arts & Craft pottery in her Swan Street Studio, where she also produced tile work for the Riverline station stops, Roosevelt Borough Hall's mural, and panels for at the information center at Batsto Village in the Pine Barrens and Princeton Public Library. Her murals depict the history of the region they adorn.
Growing up on a sheep farm in Stockton, Katherine's passion for ceramics flourished while she attended George School in Newtown, Pa. After majoring in European history at the University of Chicago, she returned to ceramics, entering the apprenticeship program at Moravian Pottery and Tile Works where she studied the Arts & Crafts style of Henry Mercer. Immediately following the intensive work/study program, she received a commission to work on a tile renovation project for the New Jersey State House.
Ty Hodanish Gallery
At Prallsville Mill Ty Hodanish carries on the Impressionist tradition of the New Hope School with plein air paintings that capture the region's color and light.
Annelies van Dommelen
A new addition to the tour is the studio of Annelies van Dommelen, located at the north end of Lambertville on North Union Street. She works in oil painting, watercolors and monotypes, and makes archival paper boxes with original and vintage papers and artists books that are free standing dioramas made with found objects.
Timothy Martin Fine Art
Tim Martin's studio barn is a stone's throw from the covered bridge. Martin's work is as fantastical as the setting, with whimsical scenes of chairs, sofas, love seats and pianos made up of flowers and set in a surreal natural woodland. Bear, bees, sheep and other fauna populate this fantasy world.
Virginia Napurano Cultural Arts Center
In the Virginia Napurano Cultural Arts Center, an old restored church, the pottery of Sheila Coutin is also filled with a menagerie of wildlife – horses, birds and fish. Some is intricately carved with floral detail, and other pieces are smooth vessels on which a figure or bird rests. Susan Nadelson produces hand-dyed handspun yarn; Amy Turner, hand dyed scarves and shawls with beading or tapestry; Bernard Hohlfeld, turned wood; Dakota Moon, jewelry; Maple Leather Co.; Martha Mulford Dreswick, wooden baskets; Fiona Scott, pottery and beaded necklaces; and Ron Dombrowski, wood decoys.
Ellie Wyeth creates original painted floor cloths, Sheila Fernekes makes contemporary one-of-a-kind jewelry, interweaving beads, silver, and gems, and Carole Kyle fashions one-of-a-kind, wearable art, functional handbags.
The Covered Bridge Artisan Studio Tour may be the best alternative to Black Friday.
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The Ginny Naparano Cultural Arts Center in Stockton is just one of eight stops on the tour.