Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea
Kentucky Artisan Center Celebrates the Environment with Exhibits and ‘Green’ Products Year- round
The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is celebrating Earth Day throughout the month of April with a wide range of products and activities. The center’s current gallery exhibit “Repurposed & Recycled” showcases both two-dimensional and three-dimensional works made from a wide array of unusual found and recycled materials. From old children’s building blocks to cigarette butts, antique weather vanes and dehydrated tree frogs – this exhibit reveals ingeniously repurposed and recycled materials turned into new and creative works.
During April the center is also showcasing artists who create “green” and “eco-friendly” products all year-round. Visitors can find weavings and fiber items, beauty products, jewelry, books and journals, organic beeswax candles and honey, buttons, bookmarks, bowls and more – all with a focus on natural materials and ingredients, recycled materials and environmentally conscious methods.
Several jewelers whose works are at the center utilize recycled materials and 100 percent recycled sterling silver. Jennifer Stephenson McLamb calls her line of jewelry “Eco Jewels” and uses materials that would have otherwise gone into landfills. Wine and soda bottles are collected, cleaned, sorted, cut and fired in a kiln to create glass rings that are the “gemstones” called Bottle Beads in Eco Jewels. Pop Beads are made from aluminum cans that have been cleaned, varnished, cut, domed and drilled to become the colorful focal point of many designs.
Mayapple Creation jewelry artisans Josie Lamb and Mark Williams use 100 percent recycled tarnish- resistant Argentium sterling silver in their jewelry along with recycled glass and natural materials. They have chosen to use traditional wire-wrapping techniques so that their jewelry production is chemical and solder-free and their labels and packaging use 100 percent post-consumer recycled materials.
Photos, left to right: Bracelet of recycled sterling and glass beads by Mayapple Creations; Repurposed leather bound journal by Melissa Oesh; Organic bees wax candle lantern with wildflowers by Candlebee Farm; “Piranha” by Richard Kolb of Yardbirds.
Other jewelry artists using recycled materials are Jane Di Teresa, who creates pins from recycled bicycle tire inner-tubes; Susan Vanstone, who uses found metal gears and watch parts among other objects in her “steam-punk” jewelry; and Sherrie Cocanougher, who makes jewelry from recycled silverware. Cocanougher will be demonstrating at the center on May 10.
Many of the beauty products at the center use natural ingredients, and Leslie Bowers, who creates Peace of the Earth natural lotions, soaps, lip balm and soy candles; uses environmentally friendly natural ingredients that are often locally grown and organic. All her products are plant-based and vegan, and her packaging is eco-friendly down to the recycled paperboard and soy ink.
Sassa Bella products are handmade, without synthetic preservatives, petroleum products, parabens, silicones, artificial fragrances, formaldehyde or GMOs. Owner Erin Taydus has created a line of products that are tuned to today’s needs, offering shampoos for dogs, products for children and lotions and lip balms for skin radiation recovery patients.
For over 20 years, sculpture artist Richard Kolb and his company, Yardbirds, have been creating works from recycled parts, manufacturing overruns, discontinued, rejected and scrap metals. Some of his materials include garden tools, car parts, farm implements, bicycle parts and mufflers. Saving these rejected metal parts from the landfill, Kolb turns them into garden art with a wide selection available at the center.
Fiber artists at the center have also created products that are environmentally conscious. Lydia Allen uses recycled wool clothing to create felted runners, while Vernon Wiehe weaves plastic grocery bags into purses. Cathy Wade-Ridge recycles cashmere sweaters into new clothing designs, and Wildflower Creek Farm creates felted wool balls called “Dryer Sheeps” – a play on words and a replacement for commercial scented dryer sheets. The balls toss along with clothes to promote drying and have no chemicals or scent.
Melissa Oesch’s “upcycled” books at the center are made using recycled materials. Her journals, sketchbooks and notebooks have covers created from reclaimed leather, and are made with acid-free recycled or handmade paper inside. Oesch will be demonstrating her craft on June 28 at the center.
Other items of interest are Kathy Werking’s book-marks made from recycled gift cards; Luanne Vermillion’s recycled handmade paper bookmarks with wildflowers; Lindsay Frost’s acorn and lichen buttons and Candlebee Farm’s organic honey, selection of beeswax candles and soap.
The list of “eco-friendly” works at the center goes on, as many artists strive to create products that are in sync with nature and the environment. The center will also feature several artists who use recycled materials in demonstrations held on Saturday’s at the center through June.
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, year-round, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the cafe open from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Admission is free.
The center currently features works by more than 700 artisans from more than 100 counties across the Commonwealth. The gallery exhibit, “Repurposed & Recycled: Works by Kentucky Artisans,” is on display through Sept. 6; and in the lobby, “Kentucky Bourbon: Distillation and Inspiration,” is on display through July 6. 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.
Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is an agency in the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.