Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving Open Studio and Vineyard Tour’

The 2010 Thanksgiving Weekend Open Art Studio And Vineyard Tour— An Eastern Shore Of Virginia Tradition

Monday, December 6th, 2010

 Thanksgiving weekend marked the  8th annual self guided tour of some of the Eastern Shore’s  numerous art studios and vineyards.    From Cape Charles on the southern tip to Chincoteague on the northern tip,  the welcome mat and refreshments were out for all those folks interested in seeing  artist’s demonstrations and in purchasing direct from the studio.  It was  the perfect opportunity to get up close and personal with the many artisans who live and work  on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.   As elsewhere, Thanksgiving week-end is a busy time here on the Shore,  with visitors from far and near coming to celebrate the holiday.   The Studio Tour is the perfect opportunity to get out and about,  to see lots of nooks and crannies on the Shore,  following  the easy directions from the down-loadable brochure.   It’s sponsored by the Eastern Shore Artisans Guild  (  ), an organization founded about 15 years ago to promote the arts here on the Shore and to provide opportunities for their members to exhibit and market their  work.  The Open Studio Tour has been a raving success for both visitors and artists,  it’s  a great way to start the Christmas shopping season and select  some unique gifts.

I usually visit the venues  on the southern tip because they are closest to my office and home but I decided this year to spend  Sunday afternoon touring some of the studios I have never visited that are further north on the Shore.   So my 8 year old grandson, who has an artistic bent,  and I  set out mid-morning  to visit five studios:  High Point Glass Works,  Maurice Spector Sculpture,  As The Wood Turns,  Carole Meyers Pottery and The Art of The Needle.   Since closing time had been set at 5 pm,  we would have  plenty of time to see all five if  we didn’t dawdle too much,  although I’m an infamous dawdler.

The Art Of Glass Blowing

Our first stop was High Point Glass Works  (  near the little town of  Harborton, Virginia ,  where artisan Ken Platt was busy creating a lovely glass ornament.  My grandson was fascinated by the hiss and glow of the flame and Ken was kind enough to invite him to put on a pair of  special tinted glasses  and come over to get a close up view and explanation of the process.   As anyone,  and especially a curious  8 year old would be,  he was absolutely delighted  to get this special peek into the art of glass  blowing and particularly  loved watching the addition of the yellow color into the glass.  A steaming cup of hot spiced apple cider and a cookie kept me occupied while watching from the sidelines.

Maurice Spector Sculpture Guest Artisans

And then we were off to Maurice Spector Sculpture  (,  also near Harborton,  whose  gallery is full of interesting pieces.  I especially loved a large free form wooden sculpture,  lying in repose on the back deck  overlooking  PungoteagueCreek,  it reminded me of a tawny sea lion.  Several other guest artists were in attendance with their own display tents,  showing  a variety of intricate decoy carvings and cast bronze sculpture.  Some colorful 17 inch ceramic plates by artist David Crane were especially interesting, handsomely  glazed in gorgeous deep blues and greens — I had my eye on one that was an inset for a table but I would prefer the wall hanging version,  thinking of it as a birthday gift for a friend.   As we left Maurice  had  just put a another  batch of oysters on the grill for visitors– they were begining to smell mighty, mighty good !

Carol Meyers Pottery Studio

Next up,  Carol Meyers Pottery,,  whose work studio overlooks  the water on Smuggler’s Cove.  She had a large variety of wheel thrown raku fired pots and some very nice vases and bowls on display but I was looking for one of her signature cookie jars  for a daughter who has recently started to collect  them.  The cookie jars and teapots are hand-crafted and are quite whimsical– I settled on a sweet little lamb !   By now,  time was getting a bit short and we still had two more places to visit before the closing bell.   So off we went,  looking for The Art of the Needle.

Silk On Silk, The Art Of The Needle

When we walked into  the  little studio at  Art of the Needle,   barely big enough for artist Jean Loeffert,  the two of us and two other visitors,   I got the most delightful surprise of the day.  If I knew more about art and anything about embroidery, I could write a better description of her stunning work.   Although she also displays a bit of  inexpensive handmade costume  jewlery and some bejewledspiders hanging on silken threads,  this cosy, light filled studio is home to some of the most beautiful needlework  I  have ever seen !   Jean characterizes her work  as  “painting with thread”  and it truly is.   Her  “canvases”  are pieces of beautiful silk cloth,  in different colors and textures,  upon which she hand embroiders in the most intricate detail and in the Japanese style,  beautiful birds, flowers and other designs.   All this is done  in silk thread,  beautifully colored,  glowing silk designs  upon glowing silk backgrounds,  with magnificent  framing.   Aside from the fantastic blue silk kimono embroidered with an absolutely stunning silvery egret,  one of  her most striking pieces is a heron,  standing very tall,  head elevated,  wings outstretched , beautifully framed,  a work Jean indicated took her nearly a year to complete.  To me,  this is museum quality contemporary art !   And she makes delicious coconut chocolate chip cookies as well…….

As The Wood Turns, Let The Chips Fly !

Our last stop was at the  gallery of the Hoovers,  “As The Wood Turns”,  near Parksley, Virginia.  It was nearly 5 pm by the time we got there,  the Hoovers had already swept up the wood shavings  and were about ready to close.  However,  they kindly offered to give us a demonstration so my grandson could enjoy seeing  how it’s done.   Bruce showed us some of the various interesting wood  he has collected,  lots of  interesting shapes,  streaks, swirls  and burls.  After pulling on his tight fitting work shirt with elastic at the wrists and waist   ( so clothing  can’t  get caught in the machinery),  he cranked up the lathe and started turning a lovely piece which is destined to be a salad bowl.  And the chips started to fly !   Like  a spray of water from a hose,  the chips flew in an arc as he worked,  landing,  by design,  in one particular corner of the room.  ( Bruce doesn’t believe in letting the chips fall where  they may– he wants the chips to fall where he wants them to fall. )  Once  he really got started with a little more of the actual shaping of the bowl,  wood chips became  wood curls,  long and aromatic,  piling up on his chest about 6 inches deep before gravity pushed them to the floor.   Afterwards, we looked at some of his completed work,  lovely teapots, bowls, even cups,  all made from woods with exotic features.  Bruce’s guest artist was Billy Crocket,  a well-known decoy carver  who was showing,  among his other work,  a very, very  handsome specked trout which looked like it could just swim away any second.  And then,  as they say,  all good things must come to an end,  including the 2010 Thanksgiving Open Studio Tour.  So we headed homeward,  visions of  artwork dancing in our heads.