Live Studio Audience: Watching Artists at Work
Brown County has been an artists’ mecca for more than 100 years, ever since painter T.C. Steele built a home and studio here. Today, the creative types who carry on his legacy are bound together in more than spirit: They’ve organized a self-guided studio tour known as The Backroads of Brown County, and the artists featured (or their helpers) are in their respective studios most days in October. Just go to browncountystudiotour.com for a map and follow the red signs. We recommend the following ﬁve stops. —CJ Lotz
Oak Grove Pottery. Tom and Judy Prichard share a love of working with their hands. They collaborate on dinnerware, bakeware, bath items, and other functional pieces, but their styles frequently diverge: Judy likes to carve nature-inspired designs into her work, while Tom often employs a sawdust-ﬁred method that can require long hours and creates a smoky ﬁnish. Visiting the studio (located on 26 acres with gardens and a ﬁsh pond) is a hands-on experience, as the artists often invite guests to feel the soft clay. Getting there: Take Main Street west out of Nashville, where it becomes Helmsburg Road. Turn left on Oak Grove Road. 942 Oak Grove Rd. 812-344-4186, oakgrovepottery.com.
Spears Gallery. Larry Spears specializes in bold, innovative pottery, and his signature touch is a copper-red glaze. Primarily self-taught, the potter has been throwing clay for more than 30 years, and his style might be best described as unfussy and functional, but very handsome. His bulky mugs ($28) practically beg for a generous pour of hot apple cider, and his elaborate set of deep soup cups and tureen ($595) calls for a steaming batch of spiced squash soup. Getting there: The gallery is located about 2 miles west of Stone Head on State Road 135. 5110 State Road 135 S. 812-988-1287, spearspottery.com.
Faerie Hollow Studio. As a potter, Cheri Platter grew tired of lifting 50-pound boxes of clay. So she decided to scale down the work. Now, she uses precious-metal clays in bronze and silver to create stunning earrings, necklaces, and pendants inspired by leaves and dragonﬂies in her garden. Platter details the pieces with gemstones, crystals, and glass beads handmade by her husband, Dallas. She also sells dyed silk scarves, and she oﬀers beadwork, silk, and precious-metal classes. Towering ash, maple, and oak hardwoods surround the studio. Getting there: From Nashville, take State Road 46 east to Salt Creek Road and then turn left; the gallery is about 2.5 miles ahead. 1650 Salt Creek Rd. 812-988-8378, cheriplatter.com.
Homestead Weaving Studio. In one year, weaver Chris Gustin will go through a ton of fabric scraps—new defective socks, blue jeans, etc.—in making her one-of-a-kind rugs. She once asked a Salvation Army store for its unsold neckties and ended up with 300 pounds’ worth. Now many of them are found in a giant wall hanging. Gustin also makes soft afghans, colorful scarves, shawls, and charming little “mug rug” coasters. The studio grounds include perennial, vegetable, and meditation gardens. [Tip: Gustin sometimes lets her visitors try their hand on one of the vintage looms or add scraps of material to in-process community rugs.] Getting there: From Story, take State Road 135 south to Hamilton Creek Road; turn left. 6285 Hamilton Creek Rd. 812- 988-8622, homesteadweaver.com.
Hickory Hills Studio & Gallery. This remote gallery showcases the diverse talents of Joe and Peggy Henderson. He carves wooden clocks; she makes hand-painted clothing, jewelry, and decorative gourds. Getting there: Hickory Hill is one of the most out-of-the-way destinations on the tour. From Nashville, head south on State Road 135. At Stone Head, turn left onto Bellsville Pike, take another left onto Brand Hollow Road, and then follow the markers to Hickory Hills. A mocking sign along the last stretch reads “Speed Limit 70, strictly enforced” (but you’ll be lucky to hit 10 mph on the ﬁnal ascent). 3800 Brand Hollow Rd. 812-988-0223.