artisans to showcase their talent
Stepleton to exhibit
her colorful fiber creations
VEVAY, Ind. (April 2011) Melodee Stepleton found
her passion when she inherited a floor loom from her husbands
grandmother. Studying weaving and spinning was a natural progression.
From that point, she discovered that she was an artisan weaver.
Stepleton will showcase her art at the annual Studio Artist Tour with
other local Ohio and Switzerland County artisans. This years tour
will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 23.
by Laura Goodwin
Stepleton uses a variety
of looms and other equipment to
create her variety of fiber art.
Stepleton has attended the tour every year since its inception
in 2008. Along with the scarves that she has made, she will be bringing
other woven wares. Aside from weaving and spinning, she enjoys all things
fiber, including dyeing, felting and rug hooking. Her fiber offerings
at the tour will be colorful and varied.
When asked how she creates her art, she said, I use floor and
table looms and related equipment, spinning wheels, fibers and yarns.
I prefer to weave and spin with wool, wool fleece, silk, cotton, linen
and the newer green fibers of soy and bamboo. Fiber dyeing
utilizes both natural and chemical dyes on a wide variety of fibers.
Stepleton said she enjoys creating Temari Balls and making Kumi Himo
braids, both Japanese traditional arts. She also favors rug hooking
with her own hand dyed wool fabric and hand felting. I enjoy experimenting
with new techniques to create usable items from felted fleece.
She has her own studio and dye house, selling her articles at a handful
of art shows. I am proud to be a fiber artisan working in any
related media, she said. I enjoy creating everything from
towels and rugs, to clothing and wall hangings. My foremost love has
always been traditional weaving. I strive for beauty through simplicity
and quality of workmanship. To live and work in the family home on the
Ohio River is a dream fulfilled.
Natasha Turner, the operations manager for Switzerland County Tourism,
also heads the Creative Spaces Rural Places Studio Artist Tour. We
really strive to seek out artists with unique crafts, encompassing all
Turner said that they do feature artistic mediums that people regularly
see, such as painting or photography, but that the attending artisans
are the top in their field and may execute these skills with a unique
perspective. Many of these artisans have won awards in their particular
by Laura Goodwin
by Jay Benzing (above) and
Mike Danner (below) will also be on
the art tour that runs throughout
Switzerland and Ohio, Ind., Counties.
Another local artist, Mike Danner, has created his own
oil painting style with a 3-dimensional feel. I use lots of paint
on the canvas. I love texture. He said that he utilizes both brushes
and artists painting knives. These knives are specifically for
painters, with a flexible steel blade that is not sharpened.
Danner started painting in high school, continuing on to study art at
Indiana University. After college, however, he found himself managing
the family hardware store and business. In August 2010, he sold the
store so that he might retire.
My wife asked me what I wanted for retirement. I told her, time
to paint, he said.
He has been painting in his own studio since then, although he enjoys
painting outdoors during bright, warm weather. When you spend
over thirty years inside a store, its time to get outside.
Danners time spent outside is apparent, with many of his creations
featuring packet ships and river boats, as well as landscapes. Colder
weather finds him indoors painting portraits.
In addition to the upcoming Studio Tour, he participates heavily in
the local wine festival, building parade floats. Some of his floats
have been featured in the past in national magazines. I love to
be involved in the community, he said.
Jay Benzing is also a painter, but with different materials. Benzing
prefers watercolors to oils. He studied art in college, becoming an
elementary school art teacher for Boone County, Ky. He retired after
30 years in the Kentucky school system, moving to Patriot, Ind., and
reviving his love for painting. His favorite subjects to paint are lighthouses
and old, weathered barns and buildings.
Benzings art work is regularly displayed in the Madison Art Gallery,
where he is member. He also attends the Rising Sun Art Show, as well
as being a member of the Kentucky Water Color Society of Louisville,
based at the Mellwood Art Center. Wanda, his wife, proudly boasts, He
is a (multi) award winner.
His awards were received from shows sponsored by the Kentucky Water
Color Society. This is Benzings fourth year to attend the Studio
In February, Benzing was featured in a one man show art
showing, in conjunction with the Madison Art Club, at the Java Bean
Café on Main Street in Vevay.
Benzing is now building his own art studio, calling it the River House
Marty McGraw is an artisan who evolves her own materials in order to
construct her art. She is a jewelry maker who creates her own beads
from polymer clay. Not all of her jewelry features her handmade beads,
but many of her necklaces and earrings do.
McGraw said she loves the variety and enjoyment that polymer clay offers.
According to the artist, it comes in approximately 10 colors that can
be mixed to create any number of hues desired. It can even be manipulated
to make faux gemstones, as well as being sculpted or molded as desired
by the artist.
I found it in 2007 and started using it. Its fun to play
with the colors and designs, she said. McGraw started with the
tour in 2009.
McGraw said that in addition to having her jewelry on display and for
purchase, she will demonstrate how the clay is used and plans to have
displays of the clay on-hand.
For more information on the Studio Artist Tour
call the Switzerland County Tourism Bureau at 1-800-435-5688 or visit:
Back to April 2011 Articles.