WAYNESBURG – Looking for that perfect gift? Downtown Waynesburg’s Holiday Open House from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday will have plenty to offer, especially in the way of original art – ceramics, glass, jewelry, prints, paintings, weavings, woodwork and much more.
This is the season when downtown shops like Our Glass Creations, 108 E. High St. and Artbeat Gallery, 52 E. High St. have the most art to offer – unique, creative and best of all – locally made.
During Friday night’s festivities, horses giving carriage rides will clip clop on the street, Christmas carols will fill the air and shoppers can warm their hands over the fire in street corner barrels, then go indoors to meet some artists and enjoy refreshments while they browse.
At Our Glass Creations, those who come through the door will also be treated to a Santa’s workshop of local elves busy soldering traditional stained glass or laying out colorful cut glass pieces to be fused for last minute gifts.
“People come to watch and some really get drawn in and want to try their hand at it. That’s how they end up working here,” owner Beth Day said, grinning. “If you’re interested in glass, please come by and see how it’s done. Who knows, you might even end up staying.”
“Artbeat has more than 40 artists now,” owner Linda Winegar said. Winegar and husband Jim take their glazed stoneware and raku pottery on the road to juried regional shows and in the process recruit other artists to bring their works to the gallery.
“We just added hand-knit sweaters and glass bead jewelry and there are new works by our regular artists,” Winegar said. “On Friday, soap maker Amy Stoll will cut samples from fresh cakes of her new holiday fragrances and artist Colleen Nelson will water color pages of the 2013 Greene Country Calendar. If you can’t make up your mind, we have gift certificates.”
Ceramic artist Laura Schlesinger has a few pieces of her intricately patterned bowls at Artbeat, but most of her work is reserved for her annual holiday show and sale on Saturday at her home studio in Carmichaels.
Schlesinger describes her award-winning style as being “born out of my desire to paint. I found clay to be a perfect fit because of the functionality of it, making something visually appealing that you can also use.”
Her work has its own following of those eager to see just what direction her painterly eye has taken the designs she covers her pieces in – flowers, fruit, frogs and fish, not to mention lizards, horses and dancing dogs – no one piece exactly like the last.
After 20 years of making patterns filled with nature’s finest, including the occasional mythic human playing tennis in the buff, Schlesinger finds that some themes come full circle as she applies an ever expanding palate of colors to her bisque fired canvases.
“I’ve been revisiting some old designs with a new point of view and that is keeping it fresh. I use white stoneware for its high fire, safety and durability and right now I’m using more rich reds and blues. The glazes have gotten better, and so have I.”