The Artisan Guilds of Bloomington’s annual Holiday Show, a gathering of three local artists’ guilds, will begin at 4 p.m. Friday at the Monroe County Convention Center.
Each year, the Local Clay Potters Guild, Bloomington Spinners and Weavers Guild and Indiana Glass Guild come together to present their artwork, provide demonstrations of their craft and offer a variety of handmade items for holiday shopping. This year’s show will be the first time the Artisan Guilds have gathered since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ellen Campbell, the Indiana Glass Guild president, said the three groups began the joint project in 2014. Before that, each of the guilds presented individual shows around Bloomington for years. Now, Campbell said the Holiday show helps visitors connect with several members of the local art scene in one place – this year, over 70 artists will premier their work.
“It's a wonderful way to get out and see what other artists are doing, to learn about different forms of art you may not know about,” Campbell said. “It's educational, but also really interesting.”
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Campbell, who designs fused glass jewelry, said the glass guild focuses on providing educational content to the show’s guests. The Bloomington Creative Glass Center will have a booth with a variety of information on how people can start glassmaking. Campbell said she likes to display the tools she uses to fuse glass alongside her products, as well as information on how she creates her work.
With this being the first show in a few years, Campbell pointed out that during nationwide lockdowns, several artists and creatives spent time producing new work that has yet to be exhibited. For her, the most exciting part of the show is being able to see what her colleagues have been working on since they last met.
Kerry Conway, the show coordinator and the vice coordinator of the Bloomington Spinners and Weavers Guild, echoed Campbell’s point.
“I have so many friends in the other guilds that I haven't been able to see for a couple of years,” Conway said. “It'll be nice to see those familiar faces again.”
Conway knits using traditional Balkan, Scottish and Eastern European techniques, but said she likes to put her own twist on each design. In particular, she makes hats, shawls and other items for wintertime. Conway said she often does her winter holiday shopping at the event each year and thinks it’s a great place to find affordably priced, handmade gifts.
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“I love the tradition behind shawls and hats,” Conway said. “Every culture comes up with some kind of way to keep you warm when it's cold.”
The guild members are professional level, talented artisans, Conway said. She said the Holiday Show is a “notch above” other regional craft shows because of the impressive, meticulous quality and color of each handmade piece.
“Every year that I've gone to the show, I have seen something that belongs in a museum,” Conway said. “I have never been disappointed.”
An evening show will be presented from 4 to 9 p.m. on Friday, and a morning show will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. The event is free and family friendly.
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