Jun. 15—NEW LONDON
— Artists are gearing up for the annual tour through area art studios, as the Willmar Area Arts Council brings back
, which is coming off a two-year pandemic break.
Artists from Willmar, New London and Spicer will be presenting their creations on June 17 and June 18, either at their home studios or at other public art spaces. Many types of art will be on display — from painting and jewelry to pottery and photography.
"It is exciting that COVID didn't derail this event forever," said Laurel Iverson, a jewelry artist in New London.
Iverson is one of nine artists participating in this year's hop. She'll be opening her home in New London to visitors, and is looking forward to showing off her creations and speaking with fellow art lovers about jewelry making.
Also taking part this year are Monica Villars, Pauline Donahue and Anna Serrane at Demo Inc., south of Willmar; Jessalyn Canava, Dona Larkin and Nan Karr Kaufenberg at the Barn Theatre in Willmar; Loretta Fenske at her Spicer home; and Jean Trumbo at the Little Theatre in New London. Addresses for the various locations can be found on the Studio Hop website at
The hop begins the evening of June 17 from 4 to 9 p.m., and continues all day June 18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors can register to win prizes by filling out a punch card as they visit different artists. The card can be picked up at any of the studios.
"It is exciting to see that get going again, people reaching out, seeing people you haven't seen in awhile," Iverson said.
Iverson has been an artist since she was young. She remembers drawing on the hardwood floors of her family home as a child, something her parents weren't exactly thrilled about. Her love of art continued through high school and into college where she majored in graphic design at St. Cloud University. She worked for Rambow and the West Central Tribune before opening a small art gallery and then Bead Jam in New London.
"It is something you are drawn too," Iverson said about art. "You have a natural skill."
While she is also a talented drawer, Iverson focuses on her wire-wrapped jewelry designs. It is a skill she taught herself over the years.
"There is so much to explore with it," Iverson said, who is also looking to create wind chimes in the same style as her jewelry.
When creating a new piece, Iverson usually starts with a central stone. She also uses things such as shells and sea glass. From that stone she then creates a simple pendant necklace before starting the process of wire wrapping, making different designs and adding additional beads to the creation.
Jewelry making and beading has become very popular over the years, with craft stores having aisles full of jewelry-making supplies. While Iverson said she has been known to pick up a few things from the local craft store, she normally likes using natural materials like stones and even shards of pottery.
"There are so many different directions people can go," Iverson said.
It is the uniqueness of the art that Iverson believes people love so much and why the medium has become so popular.
"It is unique. You are not going to see it on everybody else," Iverson said. "When you have these natural materials there is a positive to wearing that."
Art events such as Studio Hop are a great opportunity for someone to find a singular piece of art. It is also a great way to support the local communities and the very talented artists that call those cities home.
"This area is so full of love of community and support for each other," Iverson said.
Studio Hop is a great example of how people can start buying more things locally. Instead of buying a gift or piece for your home from a big box store or online, maybe you can find something from a community artisan instead.
"I hope we'll see more of a trend toward buying domestic, buying local," Iverson said. "Especially during this unique time in history when we got to get this great big economy moving again. What better way then to buy from your neighbors?"