‘Artisan Evenings’ showcase craftsmanship, benefit non-profits


A jewelry designer who works with a drill press and diamond bits to cut through tiny stones, purveyors of honey and natural soap, a quilter who makes giant wall-hangings and napkins that fold out in fan shapes, and the creator of live framed plants called “vertical gardens” – all were among the featured crafters at Central Nurseries’ first “Artisan Evenings” event last week.

The initial gathering, held Aug. 20, promises to be part of a series featuring demonstrations by various artisans, as well as food trucks, samples of honey and naturally-flavored baked goods, and the opportunity to buy the products.

Ten percent of all sales will be donated to a different non-profit organization each month, with the initial recipient being the Botanical Center Conservancy at Roger Williams Park.

About 50 came to browse the booths and talk with the vendors or participate in the hands-on seminar.

Jenny Oxx, an employee of the nurseries, had the idea to showcase local products and those who make them, and combine the whole endeavor with charitable giving. She was presenting a workshop on vertical gardens at dusk in the back of the Garden Center at 1155 Atwood Ave. in Johnston, where the other artisans had booths at the front and were describing their products.

The representative from Hope Soap was very popular and was busy applying samples of soothing soap that takes the sting out of bug bites.

Connie Latour was showing off her gorgeous jewel-tone quilted items that ranged from a full-size wall-hanging and a stunning purple table-runner, to mats decorated with whimsical chicks and lilac napkins that unfold into fan shapes.

While all of her creations are quilted, Latour began with more basic sewing.

“I made my own wedding gown,” she said. “I used to make all my clothes. I’ve been quilting over 50 years.”

She says people who buy her quilts both use them and hang them on the wall. On her way home to Florida from visiting her son Mike, she’s going on a quilting retreat in Georgia.

People who have admired the Scottish cairns – which are grave markers at the battlefield where William Wallace was captured and the clans are buried – can wear miniature replicas around their wrist or neck thanks to Will Gasner and his OMstack creations.

“I grew up on Block Island collecting stones,” he recalls. “I was fascinated by them. My dad bought me a drill press and some diamond bit drills.”

The diamond drill bits were essential because without them, plus immersing the stones in water, Gasner created huge explosions of stone shards.

He’s now branched out to include jewelry made of gold or silver or a combination of stones and precious metal. Gasner’s work is available online and in some stores.

More information about future Artisan Evenings can be obtained by calling 401-942-7511 or visiting centralnurseries.com or facebook.com/centralnurseries.


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