This week, Crafts 1 students enjoyed an day of local stories and demos in both Downtown Harrisonburg and Staunton. Our day started early with a stop at Heritage Bakery and Cafe. Owner and JMU Public Health graduate, Isabelle Treciak, shared with us how her early love of baking as a little girl paired with a series of events post-college led her to the idea of opening up this locally loved bakery. Her recipes and ideas are inspired from online resources, old family favorites and local, seasonal foods. After sampling her cupcakes we headed to Sunspots Studios located in Downtown Staunton. At Sunspots we watched a master glass artist create a hot glass pumpkin from start to finish. He also showed us some glass blowing techniques, tricks and things not to do when working with hot glass tools. It's amazing how a mixture consisting mainly of sand can turn into a honey-like glowing ball and then into a beautiful work of glass art! Next we returned to Harrisonburg and walked to the Lucy Simms mural located on the wall of the Elizabeth Street parking garage. This mural was a concept designed by graffiti artist, Andre Shank aka BMBPRF, and local photographer and business owner, Paul Somers, to represent a slice of Harrisonburg's history. Lucy Simms, born a slave in Harrisonburg in 1855ish, was an educator for 56 years of her life. Having only missed one day of teaching, Lucy touched the lives of over 1800 young African American students right here in our county. Her legacy lives through this mural dedicated to her, right in the heart of our city. At this point in the day, we were all ready for lunch so we headed to The Golden Pony for an all you can eat pizza buffet. There, owner and co-designer of the Lucy Simms mural, spoke about how the arts are and have been infiltrated into his creation of The Golden Pony. The restaurant, which houses a rotating art gallery and hosts a wide variety of musical acts nearly every night of the week, has used local artists in many aspects of the restaurant. The murals on the main dining room walls as well as the menus were created by local artist Elliott Downs. There's a stained glass golden pony behind the bar created by local stained glass artist Zac Nafziger. Signs all around the space were hand painted by local sign painter at Age Old Signs. Students gathered for a group photo on the main stage in the basement where many musical acts have poured out their hearts. Two stops awaited us after lunch. We walked from the GP to the newly renovated Chesapeake and Western Train Depot where we met with Vada Kelley of Estland Design and Charles Hendricks of Gaines Group Architects. Vada talked with students about her journey in becoming an independent graphic designer. Charles shared a bit of his life and how living with dyslexia has presented it's own set of challenges. He explained that he "wasn't the best student" in high school and his college path was a rocky road but through it all, he made it and is where he is today because of it. Both Charles and Vada's stories had a common message that through failure after failure, they have found success. Our last stop for the day was with the jewelry artist, Hugo Kohl. Hugo himself gave us a tour of his workshop and talked a lot about his craft, the historic tools he uses in his shop, jewelry making in America from the industrial revolution, and how we can make statements in many ways today with fashion, social media and countless other methods but a long time ago, the craft in jewelry design made many subtle but significant statements.
The day was full but fulfilling. A huge thanks to all the local business owners who took time out of their busy day to meet with students and share their stories. You can thank them too by visiting them yourself!