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Courtesy: Pewabic

The famous pottery, Pewabic, has been doing much the same thing it has done since the very early part of the 20th century, and using some of the same equipment and molds for its tiles and pottery.

"Pewabic was founded in 1903 by Mary Chase Perry (later named Mary Chase Perry Stratton) who was an artist and became really well known as a China painter. She would paint, overglaze enamels on French China and would teach about it and write about it," explained Steve McBride, Executive Director of Pewabic.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

April Wagner is a glass blower. She has a line of art under her name, but she also makes beautiful and useful things under the Epiphany Glass name. I asked her to describe her work for someone who has never seen it.

Courtesy: Rick Hale, Clockwork

Clockwright's Rick Hale is making clocks unlike any you’ve seen before. It’s a piece of sculpture in motion made of Michigan hardwoods.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The first thing you hear is the sound of the blacksmith pumping the bellows to make the fire in the forge hotter.

We’re at the Delano Homestead at the Kalamazoo Nature Center because there’s a small shed where a volunteer shows visitors how a homestead blacksmith might work. But he’s better known for what he forges. His name is Gabriel Paavola.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Megan Williams is a member of a vibrant community of people in Grand Rapids making all kinds of things. Williams works in textiles.  

“Textiles to me is anything with fabric, and I named my company Adventure Textiles because it's whatever I'm experimenting with in textiles," Williams said, adding, "There's so many things to experiment with in the textile category. So I started off with dyeing and that quickly moved to weaving and spinning and felting and everything together. And combining them is what I love to do most.”

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

In a nondescript building in Marshall, Derek Smith is reaming a hole to fit a tuning key into head of a mandolin. That sound is a squeaky and a little irritating. 

It wasn't long before I asked Smith if he could create a different sound. I asked him to play something on one of the mandolins in the shop, a much better sound.

Smith and the rest of the team at Northfield Mandolins make high-end instruments. And the demand for the mandolins is brisk.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Tom Fuleky is showing me some of his work. He’s a stonemason and he’s been at it for nearly 50 years.

“And it took me 30 to really figure it out. And I know it sounds crazy, but once I figured it out, oh my god, it wasn't as frustrating,” he says.