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Carroll County artists and craftspeople opening their studios to the public: ‘There’s a lot of talent’

For two days, the artists of Carroll County will continue an annual tradition of inviting the public into their workspaces.

For the past 12 years and counting, the tour has been a chance for artists to invite locals to gain a better understanding of their craft and to encourage shopping local near the holiday season.

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The tours take place Saturday, Dec. 7 and Sunday, Dec. 8 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The map of open studios and galleries is available at ccartists.com.

Participating artists and craftspeople include potters, metal workers, textile artists and more.

This year the tour includes 22 artists and artisans in 17 studios. They stretch from Alesia in the north to Sykesville in the south. In Westminster, Off Track Art Gallery and the Carroll Arts Center galleries are also included.

The tour is free and family-friendly, and guests can purchase art and handcrafted items directly from the makers. The tour is self-directed, meaning guests can visit as many or as few studios as they would like. Several of the stops will offer demonstrations on the host’s craft.

Knitting Yarn is displayed at Hill Farm during the 10th annual Carroll County Artists' Studio Tour on Saturday December 3, 2016.
Knitting Yarn is displayed at Hill Farm during the 10th annual Carroll County Artists' Studio Tour on Saturday December 3, 2016. (KEN KOONS/STAFF PHOTO / Carroll County Times)

“It’s always more fun if you have a car load of friends and you can share what you’re seeing together,” said Linda Van Hart, one of the founding partners of Off Track Art. She has practiced and taught metalsmithing for more than 30 years.

Donna McCullough, a metalworker from Westminster, is returning to the tour for the first time since 2014. She said it’s encouraging to see how much it has grown in recent years.

Her mother Betty McCullough will join her this year, displaying her handmade clay beads and jewelry.

She has found an audience for her farther from home in New Jersey and Washington, D.C., “but I kind of wanted to be known in my neighborhood,” she said.

Doug Heck of Taneytown said he’s the “newbie on the block” for this tour, opening up his woodturning studio to the public for the first time.

In past years, he has been a guest on the tour, so he reached out to fellow Taneytown artist Laura Wailes of Thistledown Farm Pottery to get advice on the highest-traffic times during the tour.

He’s been practicing the craft for about 15 years. In a “gradual slide towards retirement,” he has been able to dedicate more and more time to it. He will have pieces for sale Saturday and Sunday.

Van Hart, a sculptor of botanical portraits, is excited to greet guests at Tollhouse Studio on Baust Church Road in Union Bridge. She’ll set up shop there along with fellow metalsmith Max Groft, fashion designer Mimi Hay and milliner Tatiana Rakhmania.

Each has been a teacher at the annual Common Ground on the Hill Traditions Weeks, when they share their sills with students. On Saturday and Sunday, they will have wares for sale as well as making repairs and shining up pieces for previous customers.

Sculptor Virginia Sperry works on a piece at her Eldersburg studio Wednesday, May 4, 2016.
Sculptor Virginia Sperry works on a piece at her Eldersburg studio Wednesday, May 4, 2016. (DYLAN SLAGLE/STAFF PHOTO / Carroll County Times)

“We are the queens of body adornment,” Van Hart said. They often cater to women who make a living in the public eye.

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“In a man’s world, a woman needs a way to rivet attention on herself without appearing frail,” she said. Their goal is to make pieces that help the wearer “feel beautiful, look beautiful and own themselves."

She said of the tour, “There’s a lot of talent in this community, and this is the showcase.”

Up-to-the-minute updates are available on Facebook at the Carroll County Artists’ Studio Tour page. For more information and the map of tour stops, visit ccartists.com.

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