➼ Art is best when it’s handmade, but even better when you can meet the artists themselves. Shop local this summer at the Handcrafted Cooperative Night Market. Before you go, read about some of the talented artisans who will be there.
Bare Mountain Studio
Mindi Bowman uses leaves and fabrics instead of beakers and test tubes, but she’s a chemist in her own right. Bowman, the artist behind Bare Mountain Studio, specializes in eco-printing. This niche artform involves dyeing natural pigments from plants onto fabric. Anything from the particular fabric, the plant, the mordant—a substance that helps attach dyes to fabrics—or even the water used will affect the resulting design. “You have to experiment,” Bowman says. “Even if you can find someone to teach you, your prints could turn out differently due to your environment.”
Bowman first discovered eco-printing nearly five years ago. She made a few pieces in her house and took them with her pottery to the annual CheatFest. The prints sold out. “People don’t realize we can get that beautiful color out of Mother Nature,” she says. Bowman orders eucalyptus online, but otherwise she uses local West Virginian plants when possible. She doesn’t plan the designs she creates, preferring to allow curiosity to inspire her craft. “You have to follow some rules, but then you can just play.” baremountainstudio.com, @baremountainstudio
Soulful Spirit Designs
Tammy King is a master at transforming something broken into something beautiful. An accident in 2005 left her unable to work at her regular job. Instead of focusing on what she couldn’t do, King says, “One thing I could do from bed was make jewelry.” Now, she devotes herself full-time to Soulful Spirit Designs, formerly Kat Jewels. King uses found objects to create one-of-a-kind jewelry and eclectic collages. Her work has won 15 competitions and cash awards.Some of King’s favorite art to make include nature jewelry and technology collages, which include salvaged pieces from broken pocket watches and computers. Other popular creations are what King calls her “artifacts of love,” which she crafts from dried bridal bouquets, pearls, and love letters. “Each piece tells its own story,” she says. “People walk into my booth and might spend an hour because it’s not the same thing over and over.” King also teaches workshops to share the art and metalsmithing techniques she’s gained throughout the years. She encourages participants to use art to tell their own stories and add a little bit more beauty to the world. kat-jewels.com, @soulfulspiritdesigns
Lock House Studio
Browsing Lock House Studio’s pottery and jewelry is like looking through a kaleidoscope. Brightly colored dots and simple shapes grace the sides of mugs and bowls. Hand-drawn designs and hammered metal dangle from statement earrings. “I’ve had a long relationship with pattern,” says artist Lisa Giuliani. “Most of my inspiration for decoration comes from vintage wallpaper or vintage fabric pattern books.”
Giuliani’s passion for ceramics can be traced back to a single class. “I love the utilitarian aspect,” she says. “You’re literally making and using your art.” She moved to Morgantown in 2004 to pursue a graduate degree in studio art at West Virginia University. Shortly afterward, she started Lock House Studio, an art studio and gallery perched alongside the Monongahela River. Making jewelry added diversity to her collection, although necklaces and earrings sometimes include intricate ceramic elements as well. Business ebbed and flowed as Giuliani married her husband and raised two kids. But in the past few years, she’s been able to devote more time toward crafting her wares—functional pieces that add charm to the everyday. lockhousestudio.com, @lockhousestudiollc on Facebook, @lockhousestudio on Instagram
Handcrafted Cooperative Night Market
Saturday, June 22, 4–10 p.m.
413 Spruce Street
written by Jess Walker