What: Allegany Artisans 1997, 10th annual tour of the studios of 26 artisans.
When: Between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Where: Throughout Allegany County, ranging from Hornell in the north to Whitesville.
Directions: Take Route 400 south to Route 16 south, then go left (east) on Route 39 to Arcade and take Route 98 south to Route 243. Take Route 19 south into Belmont. There will be red and white Allegany Artisan logos along the way.
The closest stop from Buffalo is the pottery shop of Kay Brooks, 4664 Route 19 South, Belmont, where brochures and maps will be available.
Restaurants in the county include: Coslo's and Muhleisen's in Almond; Texas Hots (a '50s-style diner) and the Beef Haus in Wellsville; the Dill Pickle on Route 417 between Andover and Wellsville; Manhattan West and the Collegiate in Alfred.
The Allegany Artisans are throwing open the doors to their studios, their garages, their workshops and their homes.
These 26 members will be showing and selling jewelry, pottery (both functional and funky), whimsical pins, paintings, dolls and decorative metalwork at their annual studio tour.
Throughout the year, many of these artisans travel to other shows in the region and throughout the country, but this weekend they'll stay close to home. Some of them will demonstrate their techniques. That includes Peter Midgley, who will show the Raku firing process, weather permitting, that he uses on his sculptural vessels. And no matter what, Charles Orlando will fire up his forge to show how he turns steel, brass and copper into hinges, pot racks, sundials, decorative railings and other pieces. After viewing his work, visitors are welcome to stop into the Orlandos' house, where Betsy Orlando produces Santa Claus and Father Christmas figures and other dolls, using exquisite fabric and appealing design.
Here's the drill: Fill up your gas tank, get a good map that includes Allegany County, have a pilot and a navigator, and set off, planning on a two-hour drive each way. From Buffalo, one of the closest stops will be Pottery by Kay Brooks, who has shelves stocked with earthen vessels done in a matte finish that looks like leather, decorative pie plates with bright apples on the bottom and hanging bird feeders. Here you can pick up a brochure that includes a map and a brief description of each person's work.
Though it's unlikely that you can stop at all the spots in one day, this will give you a chance to plot your course. This drive is in some of the area's prettiest countryside, though the leaves will be on the downward side of their autumn majesty.
This is Allegany Artisans' 10th annual tour. In previous years visitors have come from Buffalo, Rochester, Corning and nearby Pennsylvania. Choosing the stops is up to individual tastes, time limits and one's adventurousness in traveling country roads. If you wish to see the most in the least amount of time, artisan clusters are in the Andover and Alfred areas.
If Alfred is among your choices, you are welcome to stop at the Ceramic Corridor Building, which houses the International Museum of Ceramic Art (open during tour hours) to see some of this region's finest ceramic work.
Other highlights include:
Stephen Walker of Andover. In his cluttered studio, this amiable jewelry maker produces unusual and painstakingly crafted jewelry, using what he calls married metals, sterling silver, brass, copper, nickel and bronze, using laminates. Other pieces he exports to Scotland (260 Celtic-style rings went to Edinburgh, for example). He also makes the silver rings that are used on bagpipes, something he has been doing since he was 13, he said.
Also in Walker's studio space will be Ken McClure, a retired commercial artist who has joined the tour for the first time. McClure will exhibit paintings in oil, pastel, watercolor and pen-and-ink, including scenes from the countryside and Ireland's Dunguaire Castle.
And Martin Wittie's otherworldly collages, painstakingly cut and assembled from old National Geographic and Life magazines, using barber scissors.
In the garage/studio of Jim Horn of Wellsville, you'll see art pins and funky mirrors made of Friendly Plastic. Horn, a former Buffalonian, fashions the brightly colored plastic into whimsical dragon, fish and frog pins and earrings.
Bill Banker of Almond will be holding forth on artistic metalworking and showing recent pieces that include candlesticks, a twisted stand for a courting candle and bells. A mechanical engineer, Banker said he became interested in what could be done with hot metal that couldn't be done with cold metal, "and I got hooked."
Those interested in contemporary pottery will find the combined studios of Karen Gringhuis, Robin Caster and Linda Huey a fruitful stop (they are also in the Ceramic Corridor Building).
Ms. Gringhuis, for example, has been experimenting, with fine results, with glazing. The results are sunny, brilliant yellows, oranges and reds, previously not attainable.
"If we were going to have color, I just thought we should blow some doors off," said the potter.
Another potter, Bruce Greene, specializes in functional stoneware pottery at his Hillbottom Pottery in Alfred Station.
He works out of an attractive neoclassical building from the 1840s in a kiln he built himself. Here he produces lamps, lanterns, bowls and mugs, pieces that are both aesthetically pleasing and functional.
After Western New Yorkers spent hours in traffic getting to craft shows in Ellicottville and at Letchworth State Park recently, this system of driving to the artisans may offer a more relaxed alternative.