Kentucky: a road trip through the state - Part 36 - Orlando / Florida Guide
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If you are in the Lexington area then Kentucky' s official ‘Craft Capital’ is only 40 miles south at Berea. Berea has a long standing tradition as a centre of craftsmanship and this earned it the designation by the Kentucky State Legislature.
The reason that Berea has this crafts tradition is Berea College. Here the students do not pay any fees but instead work for 10 to 15 hours a week in one of the college' s production units.
The students of the Berea College Crafts program create furniture, woven items, ceramics, brooms and wrought iron pieces. These are then sold at the Berea College Log House Craft Gallery in the town and the money raised pays for the ongoing running of the college. Berea College ranks as one of the leading arts colleges in the nation and also plays an important role as it promotes the preservation of mountain crafts. As well as the college Berea is also the home to dozens of other arts and craft studios as well as galleries.
If you want a complete list and detailed map of all the Berea shops, studios and galleries then stop at the Berea Welcome Centre on North Broadway.
While you are in town there are a few other places you will want to visit. One is Warren May' s Woodworking Shop; his elegant dulcimers are so beautiful that many people buy them not as musical instruments, but as artwork to hang on the wall. He also crafts fine Kentucky style furniture.
The long history of the area as a centre for craft and folk art caused the Kentucky legislature to build a state artisan centre. Here you can find handcrafted items and folk art, there is also a café for a quick refuelling stop and as a plus it is open seven days a week. After you have been here then a trip to Old Town Berea is a pleasant walk to find two other shops. The first is ‘I Love My Stuff’ which carries a wide range of crafts, including unusual items such as ' dancing hormone pins' plus some very unusual garden art.
Up the street at Ken Gastineau’s Studio you will find someone who has been working with jewellery and metals for more than 25 years. His time living in the American West shows in some of the designs, but most are rooted in Kentucky traditions.
After visiting the shops in town you need to head out into the surrounding countryside. A visit to the Tater Knob Pottery and Farm is about 10 miles east of Berea. This is the home and workshop of Sarah Culbreth and Jeff Enge, here you can watch them at work, learn about clay and glazes, and buy ready-made pieces.
If you are into Christmas then visit Lindy Evans and her shop where it’s Christmas all year long. Her specialty is uniquely handcrafted Santa Claus sculptures which are studies of real people. Berea also hosts several major crafts fairs each year including a Festival in mid-July which features juried works by over 100 craftspeople from 20 states.
The next section of our trip looks further across the state and continues in part 37.
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