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12 crafters take part in Valley Craft studio tour

November 15, 2012|By MARIE GILBERT | marieg@herald-mail.com
  • Judy Williamson of Boonsboro makes the clothes she sells by hand. Shell participate in the Valley Craft Holiday Network Studio Tour this weekend.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

BOONSBORO — As an artisan, Judy Williamson needs only to look outside her window for inspiration.

From her house sitting majestically atop a hill, she has a direct view of South Mountain and the Washington Monument and is surrounded by a rural canvas painted this time of year in burnished golds, browns and reds.

It’s a setting that offers few distractions, making her creativity seem effortlessly achieved.

It helps, of course, that she loves what’s she’s doing.

And for Williamson, that love is working with her hands.

From jackets and vests to purses and scarves, the Boonsboro resident uses new and repurposed fabrics to create wearable art.

Most days, she easily spends eight hours in her studio, getting lost in her work.

“I love to sew,” she shared. “I find it to be very relaxing.”

But she finds making multiples of the same item very boring. That’s why each and every piece is unique.

“My creations are one-of-a-kind. Even if fabrics are used in several garments, no two are exactly alike,” she said.

Williamson will be sharing both her talents and handiwork when she participates in the 31st Valley Craft Network Holiday Studio Tour on Saturday, Nov. 17, and Sunday, Nov. 18.

The event is a self-guided visit to the work places of 12 craftspeople at nine studio stops.

The tour is free and open to the public.

Williamson has had an interest in sewing, she said, since she was 9 years old.

“It became a favorite 4-H project,” she noted. “I later majored in home economics education, now called family and consumer science, with a focus in textiles at the University of Maryland. My MS and PHD degrees also have a textile focus.”

Williamson spent 30-plus years working with the University of Maryland Extension — 20 of which were as a specialist in home furnishings and textiles and clothing at the College Park Campus.

“Much of my career was spent teaching life skill subjects — nutrition, food preparation; selection, use and care of clothing and home furnishings to youth and adults throughout Maryland,” she explained.

Today, she said, she serves as the director of Maryland Make It With Wool — a sewing competition primarily for youth. And she occasionally teaches sewing at Stitch N Time in Greencastle, Pa.

She also devotes a great deal of time to her sewing business — known as JRW Creations, where she makes custom creations for her clientele, including clothing, accessories and window treatments.

“During late summer and fall, my focus shifts to creating items for the studio tour and the Shepherdstown Holiday Marketplace held each weekend after Thanksgiving,” she said.

Williamson works from a studio in the upstairs room of her house.

“However, my fabrics seem to have taken over the other rooms and closets, as well,” she said.

While she works in a variety of fabrics, “much of my work for the studio tour is in wool,” she said, noting she uses both new wool fabrics and repurposed wool sweaters.

“I now do all the treatments to wool that I used to teach people not to do, such as washing in hot water, drying in a hot dryer,” she noted.

Other creations are made from upholstery fabrics.

“I also make hats and mittens from felted sweaters, lined in Polartec 200-weight fleece, so they are super warm,” she said.

She makes accessories, including purses, totes, hand knit hats and scarves.

She designs velveteen jumpers and fleece vests for children and decorates jean jackets for youngsters, using a variety of cotton fabrics, ribbons and other trims.

And there are home accents as well, such as table runners.

While she appreciates all aspects of sewing, Williamson said she enjoys the more challenging projects of her business, such as wedding gowns and special outfits for the mothers of the bride or groom.

As part of this weekend’s Valley Craft Network Holiday Studio Tour, Williamson said she’ll be able to share her expertise with visitors — answering questions, discussing techniques and demonstrating her craft.

The Valley Craft Network is an association of professional artists and craftspeople of the Middletown and Pleasant Valleys, Williamson said. A variety of artisans will be featured, ranging from potters to woodworkers.

“Each weekend before Thanksgiving, they offer their annual studio tour. This year will be number 31,” she noted. “One of our members, Susan Hanson of Catoctin Pottery, is a founding member. I believe this is my seventh year, so I’m a relative newcomer.”

If you go ...       

WHAT: 31st Valley Craft Network Holiday Studio Tour

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, and Sunday, Nov. 18

WHERE: Nine studio stops on a self-guided tour through the Middletown, Md., and Pleasant Valleys. Watch for tour signs.

COST: No charge and open to the public

CONTACT: For map and listing of tour participants, go to www.valleycraftnetwork.org

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