Water color and acrylic paintings, porcelain pottery, stone sculptures and other pieces of art fill the walls and glass cases in the lobby at Willmar Education and Art Center.
The display showcases the 26 artists who will be featured in the eighth annual Studio Hop from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. During the event, artists welcome the public to view their art and work space at 17 studios in Willmar, Spicer and New London.
"Studio Hop is all about being a part of the art community; and for those few days, the public is welcomed into that community," said Betsy Bonnema of New London, a veteran to the event.
Since 2005, the two-day event has given the public a chance to visit local artists in their studios to see how and where the art is made.
"I think a creative soul gets inspiration from the world around them," Bonnema said. "My studio is kind of a home for my whole creative life."
From the water color painting of eggs and strawberries by Violet Dauk to the beautiful green crystalline-glazed porcelain vase by Glenn and Julie Joplin, each piece on display has its own story -- much like the artists.
For the love of basket making
The beautifully woven wall tapestry made of yarn, pine needles and philodendron sheaths is just one small piece from Janet Olney's collection.
Olney was introduced to basket making along the shores of Lake Michigan in 1984 and has been weaving baskets ever since.
"It was my livelihood," Olney said. She made and sold baskets to support her family of five children.
Twenty-eight years later, Olney is still making baskets, but a few things have changed. Olney no longer exclusively makes functional baskets. She has added wall pieces and decorative, nonfunctional baskets to her list as well.
This year Olney received two grants from Southwest Minnesota Arts and Humanities Council to make larger pieces, which will be on display during Studio Hop.
Olney has completed a couple pieces and is working on another.
"It's 28-inches tall and over five-feet around," Olney said. "The last large one I did -- not as large as this one -- took me over 80 hours."
She typically spends 10 to 12 hours making medium-sized baskets, but has committed significantly more time to make these larger art pieces simply for the love of the art.
For the beauty of beading
Laurel Iverson of New London also has a love for art but her focus is bead making.
Iverson has been beading for as long as she remembers. She recalls going to art shows with her mom and picking up all the beads that fell on the ground
"It was like a treasure hunt," Iverson said. "We would come home and string jewelry from that."
Now, as the owner of Bead Jam, Iverson has the first pick at a much larger collection. She buys beads and other beading supplies for the store often finding special gemstones for her own jewelry as well.
For the display necklace, Iverson chose a brownish-gold tiger's eye stone as the focal point.
"There's something more tangible and real about working with gemstones," she said.
She started by creating the pendant, which involves wrapping wire around the stone and creating the setting.
"I didn't get too fancy with curls and loops," she said. The stone speaks for itself.
She finished the necklace with a variety of simple brown beads to compliment the stone and a wire clasp.
Working on pieces every day, Iverson has perfected the art of beading, but she enjoys challenging herself with new techniques.
"There's so many different approaches one can take and one idea leads to another," she said.
For the experience of learning
Christopher Boedigheimer of Spicer shares a similar philosophy and hopes to continue learning about pottery and different techniques.
He started working with clay in 2008 when he was in college and is now taking the first step to starting a business.
His clover-shaped clay coffee cup on display is one of the many functional pieces he hopes to sell.
Boedigheimer makes pitchers, cups, coffee cups and bowls. "The kinds of things I'd hope people could use in their daily lives," he said.
Starting with basic shapes, he draws inspiration from nature and everything around him to create something "beautiful, yet functional."
"All of what I do is rooted in tradition," he said. "But, there's kind of an element of play. You just play and see what happens."
After shaping the pieces, they are wood-fired. The ashes and flames create the different designs and coloring.
Boedigheimer is new to Studio Hop this year, but he said he is excited to display his work and see how people react.
For more information on Studio Hop and the featured artists, visit www.studiohop.org.