Local artists will join the throng at Saturday’s craft fairs

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Amy Jordan shows samples of the work she and sister-in-law Lori Jordan plan to offer at the Hillsboro fair.

Amy Jordan will be a first time exhibitor at Hillsboro

by Andrew Ottoson?

 

Ashleigh Ellwood Brilliant is credited with saying, ?Good ideas are common and what?s uncommon are people who?ll work hard enough to bring them about.?

Brilliant was once described as ?history?s only full-time, professional published epigrammatist,? an occupation that looks at the concerns of the present, compares them to the concerns of the past, and produces something enjoyable for public consumption.

Enter Hillsboro resident Amy Jordan and sister-in-law Lori Jordan, who together have been working hard to turn what might seem like a common idea from days gone by into a hit at the 2008 Hillsboro Arts & Crafts Fair.

?We?re selling home and nursery decor?mostly for the nursery,? Amy Jordan said. ?And we use a lot of vintage inspired designer fabrics to make nursery wall art and decorative storage containers.?

What began as a hobby in the comfort of her home has, over time, opened the door to sharing her work with strangers.

?I make a lot of stuff for my own house, and (Lori and I) just decided that we could make it for other people?s houses, too.?

The Jordans have good reason to believe that their private interest in incorporating vintage styles around their own homes?Lori lives in Newton?will resonate well with others.

?I?ve made things for gifts, and I?ve also had people comment on my taste and creativity and whatnot,? Amy Jordan said. ?I personally tend to go toward things that are vintage inspired, so we use a lot of vintage fabrics and vintage ads.?

The vintage ads she is interested in and that she incorporates into her work are authentic?items clipped straight from the pages of old issues of Good Housekeeping and framed for use as art.

?Anything that?s in the 1940s-50s style is our area,? she said.

?But we?ve also got some contemporary styles. The polka dot, that?s more contemporary, and the contemporary stuff is about half of what we do, but a lot of it is vintage inspired.?

Leaning toward the older ideas that are coming back into fashion is also straightforward, in that it engages a broader spectrum of people.

?The stuff we?ve made and the style of it is mainly popular with the younger moms with small children?both the vintage and the contemporary, modern styles,? she said. ?But with the vintage pieces, people who are older enjoy it, too, and sometimes want to buy it for their grandkids? nurseries.

?I suppose it can go both ways, that people who are younger enjoy it, and so do people who can remember these styles and have good memories from when they were growing up,? Jordan added.

Although the styles are old, manufacturers have kept pace with the returning trend, and apart from the ads, their crafts are made entirely from new materials.

?The cloth is all new material?everything we use is, actually, except for the clippings,? she said.

Part of Jordan?s creativity in matching old and new comes straight up out of her own collections.

?I have a pile of old magazines, so that?s where I get the ad clippings, so they?re actually from that era,? she said. ?And I have a lot of antique ribbons and antique stuff in general, and that?s kind of where we get our inspiration.?

Another part grows out of the urge to integrate her long-held hobbies into family life.

?I love to make things,? she said. ?I always have, and babies are kind of the stage of life I?m in right now,? she said.

Amy and husband Jeremy have two daughters, Alice and Elsie, and are expecting their third child in December.

This will be Lori?s and Amy?s first Arts & Crafts Fair as vendors.

?We?re going to be on the south end past Grand (Avenue),? she said. ?I?m not really sure what to expect. I just hope that people appreciate what we?ve made as much as we do.?

 

Shawn Voth will display her pottery at Marion's Art in the Park

by Don Ratzlaff

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Shawn Voth shapes a bowl on the potter?s wheel in her studio workshop in Marion. Her work will be for sale at Marion?s Art in the Park.

 

You never know how a single high school class might change your life.

For Shawn Voth of Marion, it was a pottery class she took with Celia Byer while a student at Hillsboro High in the mid-1970s.

?In high school we did some pottery and I just loved it,? said Miller, who plans to show some of her ceramic accomplishments again at Saturday?s Art in the Park in Marion.

Voth?s speciality is ?Kansas? mugs and bowls?at least when it comes to her economic well-being. She is a supplier for several stores, including Clayworks Gallery in Newton, Homemade Hap?piness in Salina, Central Parks Antiques in Marion and Kansas Originals in Wilson.

Truth be told, if Miller had her druthers she probably would focus on other themes. But circumstances led her to that niche?eventually.

After graduating from high school, she attended Bethany College for one year on an art scholarship, intending to become an art teacher. Fresh?men weren?t eligible for pottery classes there, but she took one from Les Byer when she transferred to Tabor College the following year.

Life took its own course after that, including the birth of her oldest daughter. But Miller got back into pottery during the 1980s when Les Byer hired her to make the little wheat bags and plaques for the Kansas pieces he was producing through his shop, Flinthills Clay Works in Marion.

?He had a Kansas line that he called Windbreak,? Miller said. ?We did pieces strictly for Kansas shops. I did so much Kansas stuff that I thought, when I do my own stuff, I am not making anything Kansas.

?But that?s what people want, the Kansas stuff,? she added with a smile. ?So I?m still making Kansas stuff.?

And she really doesn?t mind.

?It?s nice, because you know what people want?you make it and it?s gone,? she said. ?You don?t have to worry if it?s going to sell.?

Miller?s avocation in pottery has always been a sideline enterprise. She creates her pieces in a small, detached studio outside her attractively landscaped home at 226 N. Coble. The studio is equipped with her own potter?s wheel and kiln.

She uses stoneware clay to shape the mugs and bowl on the wheel.

?You make the things, and then you have to let them dry a little bit so you can grab them to trim them,? she said. ?Then you do your stamping, or whatever you want to do, and then you let it dry. Then you fire it.?

She dips her pieces in blue and tan glazes. The bisque firing goes to about 1,800 degrees.

Miller tries to create items with standard dimensions, but at the same time each one is unique.

?There will be differences with them because each piece is individually made?it?s not going to be a carbon copy of each one,? she said. ?You try to get them as close as you can, but there will be differences.?

As time allows, Miller uses her skills to create her projects for herself?which usually end up in the hands of others. Two years ago she made personalized mugs for each of the students in her son?s fourth-grade class for their annual ?Hot Chocolate Days? in winter.

Not much of what Miller makes ends up on her own shelves as keepsakes.

?I have very few things that I?ve made,? she said. ?If someone wants it, I tell myself I?ll just make another one?but I never do. I make it and away it goes.?

Miller?s current day job is as a fourth-grade teacher?s aide at Marion Elementary School. She said it would be nice if the pottery work could provide a steady income year round, but the vagaries of the market make it difficult. The work tends to be seasonal.

?For Kansas Originals it tends to be summer time, when people are traveling through,? she said. ?And of course, around Christmas time, too.?

For the time being, Miller will keep working at the wheel as she can find time amid a busy schedule of work and her children?s activities.

?I have plenty to do,? she said of her pottery orders. ?I?m so far behind with my stores, it?s pathetic.?

But the demands haven?t soured her on the art itself, she added.

?I love this,?Miller said. ?I can be out here and it?s like, ?Leave me alone,? I turn on my music and I do my best thinking out here.?

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Voth had her first pottery experience as a high school art student in Hillsboro. ?I just loved it,? she said.

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