Artisans mix and match media, subject matter in exhibit

Feb 8, 2020

MARION — At the Benjamin D. Cushing Community Center this month, fish swim on the walls with wooden stars and clocks, quilts and collages of handwoven fabric.

The February exhibit showcases five artisans who work in fabric, wood or ceramics: David Peterson, Deborah Kuhlman-Hussey, Dannie Engwert, Geoffrey Grainger and Karilon Grainger.

Peterson is a  furnituremaker, who studied woodworking in trade school.

He does a wide variety of projects, from clocks and decorations to customizing a patch of the floor with a nautical design. Peterson also makes his work unique by using local wood, which he cuts down and processes from start to finish.

One of his most challenging projects was replacing all the wood on an antique sleigh.

He gets many of his ideas from books, magazines, requests, neighbors who have ideas for projects but don’t know how to make them.

Quiltmaker Kuhlman-Hussey is a neighbor and a friend to Peterson. She finished crafting a quilt with a fish on it, challenged him to make a fish in wood, and gave him the pattern she had used.

Peterson was able to do it, and the two works are now paired at the community center. But he said it was a tricky project.

Kuhlman-Hussey knew how to sew, worked in a fabric shop, and made her own prom dress, but didn’t learn how to quilt until a friend invited her to a quilting class while her husband, a police officer, was working the night shift.

She started out by making 13 or 14 quilts for family members, then turned to more creative projects after she finished those and retired from her role as a special education teacher.

The quilter calls her art “just another form of collage, with fabric instead of paper,” and “adult play.” She credits Marion artist Mary Ross and workshops she has taken with professional quilters for her growing creativity.

The Graingers own Grainger Pottery. The duo met through pottery, and now make their ceramic fish from plaster molds of real fish. They then use the mold to imprint the clay, and hollow it out.

Their models range in size from something that would fit in the palm of a hand to giant barracudas, several feet long. Some are glazed realistically, others in impossible metallic colors. 

Geoffrey first developed the idea for the fish when working with a Tabor Academy ceramics instructor on a project for students. When he took a few of the fish home, his customers for other pieces noticed them and started making requests.

It turned into a thriving business, and the Graingers have since trained two of their nieces, who branched off to start a bustling shop in Sandwich.

One of Karilon’s favorite part of the shop is that she “meets wonderful people,” there.