CREATIVITY ABOUNDS in the household of Mark and Carolyn Cherry. The energetic couple have just opened The Cherry Collection, a shop full of Mark's handcrafted twig furniture.
The Cherrys are a creative, spirited, hospitable and fun couple, and their newest enterprise reflects their sense of adventure, commitment to craft and belief that art should be affordable.
I drove to the shop near New Windsor on a gray Sunday afternoon, parked the car in the driveway, walked down a stone path to a small building behind the main residence, and opened the door.
Suddenly, I was in a fantasy land -- a twig arbor dominated the room, lighted with dozens of white Christmas lights and decorated with glass Moravian stars. All things made from twigs -- tables, chairs, coat hooks, quilt racks, a bar and bar stools -- lined the walls, hung from the ceiling and occupied the hand-painted floor space. Mr. Cherry's twig furniture and accessories are functional works of art by themselves; displayed together, they create a forest you could move into.
You can find just about anything, and at any price, in this one-of-a-kind shop. From flower pots to end tables, jewelry to beds and arbors, wood and aluminum table and chairs to paper-towel holders, this place has it. Mr. Cherry also takes custom orders; if you (or he) can imagine it, he will make it.
The Cherrys emphasize that twig furniture can fit into any setting; you don't have to build your cabin in the woods before owning a piece. Recent displays at Saks Fifth Avenue and exhibits at galleries from Florida to New England attest to this.
The Cherry Collection is complemented with handcrafted accessories Mrs. Cherry has found on her travels to craft shows with Mr. Cherry, or the handwork of friends. All the pieces, from light-switch plates to wooden postcards and chain-saw art Santas created by Westminster artist Gary White, have a sense of fun.
"It's everything we like," Mrs. Cherry said. "And it's for the budget-minded."
"Frankly," added Mr. Cherry, "it's a shop full of stuff that we could afford."
The Cherrys practice an art-centered life that the shop reflects. Their home is full of artwork and crafts they've bartered for with twig furniture. A charcoal drawing dominates the living room, dinnerware fills the cupboard shelves, fiber art hangs on the wall. By giving children Nelson, 7, and Claire, 5, art for birthday presents, they hope to nurture a lifetime of creativity.
Mr. Cherry acknowledges that his occupation is more than just a job.
"Making a living with my imagination and hands -- it's my body and soul -- it's every bit a part of me."
The Cherry Collection at 2424 Marston Road is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., through Christmas and by appointment. Information: 875-2309.
Learn to make decorations
If you've always wanted to try your hand at making natural holiday decorations, consider attending the Carroll Garden Club's evening meeting Tuesday. Veteran club member Sharon Johnson will demonstrate how to make Christmas arrangements.
"It should be fun," she said. "The workshop will give people a chance to see how simple things can be to make. Anybody can do these."
Ms. Johnson will show how to create arrangements from fresh greens and silk flowers. Hall pieces, bedroom pieces and centerpieces for the table will be created.
Visitors also are invited to bring a favorite Christmas arrangement to share with the group. Often, a favorite arrangement serves as an inspiration for a new creation, Ms. Johnson said.
The event is Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Union Bridge Community Center on Ladiesburg Road. Information: 876-2278.
Tour Union Bridge houses
The fourth annual Union Bridge House Tour is scheduled for Dec. 16, beginning at 2 p.m. Six families will open their homes to the public, and three Union Bridge churches, decorated for Christmas, will be open.
I attended this event the first year we lived in Carroll, and quickly learned that nothing reveals the hospitality and warmth of small-town Maryland like the folks in Union Bridge. You'll be greeted at every front door, enjoy homemade refreshments at United Methodist Church, and can take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the town.
Tickets can be purchased the day of the tour, at United Methodist Church in Union Bridge, for $5. Carriage rides begin at 4 p.m. and cost $1.
Homemade food from chicken corn soup to kettle-fried chicken, sandwiches and baked goods, will be served at the church. The tour ends at 8 p.m.
Proceeds benefit United Methodist Church of Union Bridge. Information: 775-2427.