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Spring Old Court Days

Glass painter Townsend travels from Tennessee for Madison show

She will take part in her 19th Old Court Days craft show

(May 2017) – Old Court Days, the Pilot Club of Madison’s popular spring arts and crafts show, is scheduled for May 26-28, in downtown Madison, Ind. This three-day event usually draws several thousand people who visit in order to shop for unique crafts, antiques and collectibles.  In turn, the event is an important fundraiser for local charities.
“We give a lot of money to charities,” said Linda McDaniel, one of the organizers.
By early May, 55 vendors had signed up to return to the show, according to McDaniel. Some of them have signed up for several spaces. It is difficult to estimate how many people will attend the show. She expects to have lots of vendors who sell arts and crafts, especially metal, steel wall art, handcrafted jewelry, textiles and handbags, miniatures, glass beads, wooden items, signs and pottery.

Photo provided

Lisa Townsend stays busy while exhibiting and selling her wares at area craft shows. She will take part in the Pilot Club of Madison’s Old Court Days in late May.

“There is one woman who has bohemian clothing, and she has been coming for years,” McDaniel said. Other vendors include people who sell knives and commercial items.
Among the artists who will return this year are Lisa Townsend of Franklin, Tenn., a professional glass painter, and Sandi and Don O’Connor, of Rushville, Ind. Vendors are expected to sell their arts and crafts at booths that line the block around the Jefferson County Courthouse. They also will have booths in the block just south of the courthouse.
The first year that Townsend came to Madison was 2009, the year that the Jefferson County Courthouse burned. She has returned every year since then because she loves the city, the people and the Ohio River. She makes that clear when she talks. She also has a following here.
“This is my 19th show,” she said. “We used to come here from Wisconsin, and now we come up from Tennessee. I have been painting glass for 24 years with my own designs. I support a family on my glass painting.
“Some of my most loyal customers, and some of our favorite crafter friends are at this show. That is what I love about Madison. We have spent a little over three months (total) in Madison, so we know the restaurants and the area. We love the Ohio River.”
Townsend came from a fine arts background. Although she has painted all her life, she became especially fascinated by glass. As she looked for a type of paint that would allow her to do the shading and highlighting she wanted, she eventually found that Perm Enamel achieved the results that she wanted. She developed the Layered Glass Painting Method. Since then, she has done 36,000 usable pieces. Only eight have come back.
“I still love what I do,” Townsend said. “I paint 50 different kinds of birds. Birds are big in Madison. There are a lot of birdwatchers there. I also do about 40 different flowers. I do herbs and fruits or whimsical items.”
Since one of her children started drumming in Chicago, she has started painting on drumsticks, too. Townsend also has written five books about glass painting.
The O’Connors have specialized in “country primitive” ware for the past 30 years. Initially, Sandi had a floral shop, while her husband, Don, worked elsewhere. When he lost his job, they joined forces and decided to do their own business, Sandi said. “We thought there ought to be something we could do together.”
They found their inspiration in driftwood. Driftwood from the Ohio River, which they loved, and driftwood from Batesville Reservoir. Sandi already had made floral arrangements from her shop, so she was used to making arrangements and running a business.
“We began incorporating a lot of wood into our work,” she said.
Don started incorporating driftwood into birdhouses and wooden benches. He put driftwood into flower boxes and garden benches. He makes flags and other wooden items.
Meanwhile, Sandi paints windows, screens and slates, in addition to creating her floral and driftwood items. During their spring show, they focus mainly on items for the garden.
Describing one unique item, Sandi said, “We put raccoons into pieces of driftwood so that it looks like they are coming out of the holes.”
The O’Connors say they enjoy participating in Old Court Days. “I like the river and the setting,” Sandi said. “I enjoy the people. We have a following here. We are different, and we are handmade. We don’t come to the fall show as much (as they did in the past),” she said.
Pilot Club organizer Cindy Loveall said she thinks this will be the event’s 45th year. Attendance “waxes and wanes, according to weather,” she said. During Old Court Days, there are additional booths for churches or local groups, which sell barbeque, corn dogs, onion rings, ice cream or water. Face painting often is a popular activity for children. 

The Pilot Club has scheduled its Fall Show for Sept. 29-30 and Oct. 1 – the same weekend as the Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art. Both events have moved their dates to a weekend later this year to stay one week ahead of Louisville’s St. James Court Art Festival.

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