Local Artisans and Craftspeople Add to Unique Downtown Shopping Experience
By Matt Bayman
In a woodworking shop located in the quiet countryside near Troy, Canal Street Primitives owners, Bruce and Debbie Lutz, put the finishing touches on a brand new piece of colonial-style furniture. Although the furniture is new in every sense of the word, through a unique distressing method perfected by Bruce, the furniture piece looks like an antique. This original piece is one of hundreds of Bruce’s handcrafted creations, which include free standing cabinets, cupboards, tables, stands and shelving, among many others. Bruce showcases his work at his store at 9 E. Canal St. in downtown Troy — located three blocks south of the Square from Market Street.
Canal Street Primitives has an ever-changing storefront where Bruce and Debbie, as well as other members of their family, showcase their original, handmade work, from one-of-a-kind hooked rugs and table decorations to sewn pieces and pottery made less than five blocks away by Bruce and Debbie’s daughter-in-law, Rebecca, of Rebecca’s Pottery.
In addition to hand-crafted home decor from his family, as well as merchandise purchased for the store from some of the best artists and designers in the United States, Bruce does custom furniture work, which actually accounts for a great deal of his business.
Bruce says that “customers inquiring about custom work are typically looking for a particular style, size or finish in a piece of furniture, but have not been able to find what they are looking for at other local furniture “showrooms.” Our custom work also allows the customer to select wood species, paint color, type of finish, dimensions to fit and special function features to suit.”
Canal Street Primitives can help design a custom piece and/or work from customer sketches, pictures or magazine photos. To discuss a furniture project, call (937) 216-9606 or stop in the store, between 11a.m. and 4p.m. Wednesday-Saturday.
Across the street from Canal Street Primitives is Muddy Hands Art Studio, owned by Jana Glass, a talented potter and teacher who also happens to be Treasurer of the Troy Arts Alliance. The Troy Arts Alliance is “a community arts organization whose goal is to promote the arts in Troy, Ohio.” It is one of at least two organizations in Troy that encourage individual artists to join together for the good of the group and the art-loving community. The other organization is the Country Workshop Artists.
Muddy Hands Art Studio has taught beginning potters the art of making pottery and also sells locally, hand-crafted pottery to the general public, including some of Glass’s own pieces and the pieces of her students.
At the Troy Arts Alliance, experienced and beginner artists become members and also come together to learn from one another and often sell their work to the general public, including during events such as Taste of Troy or the Strawberry Festival.
Troy Arts Alliance President Terrilynn Meece said the arts are an essential part of any thriving community. “We believe that creative expression lifts the spirit and raises the collective consciousness of those who use their imagination. The Troy Arts Alliance strives to unleash the artistic potential of every community member,” she said. “We work to encourage a thriving community of artists and appreciation of art within Troy and its surrounding communities. To this end, the Troy Arts Alliance wishes to collaborate with artists and artistic organizations in an effort to facilitate mutual support, recognition and the exchange of ideas and information.”
Founded by a group of women in 1961, the Country Workshop Artists is a collection of women (men are very welcome) who use their talents as artists to create works of art that they sell at two annual shows, which are hosted to raise money for an annual scholarship the group gives out to a local art student.
President Bonnie Rashilla said the Country Workshop Artists, which is open to anyone, starts making items for its annual sales in January. The members all meet at the same location, Stouder Building, Suite 1212, where they have everything needed to create their various works of arts, from kilns and paint brushes to glass, chalk and paper, and members work on individual projects as well as group assignments, all of which are geared toward the bi-yearly show.
“If we decide to do some wooden dolls, one person might paint them while another will do the sewing,” she said. “We also have our own specialties and things we enjoy doing most, and often work on several projects at once.”
The work of the Troy Arts Alliance and the Country Workshop Artists can be found while shopping in downtown Troy. For instance, Dancing Dolphin Pottery by Diane Brower is sold at Brower Stationers at 16 S. Market St.
Guests at Waterstone Arts & Crafts can paint their own ceramic pieces (many designed and molded in the back of the business), take classes, meet in groups and even sell their work.
Other hand-made items found in downtown Troy include The Olive Oasis, which offers a large variety of olive oil and other healthy products. The bread eaten at lunch from Bakehouse Bread & Cookie Company was hand-made that morning. In fact, the bakery’s lights are the first, or among the first, turned on each morning in downtown Troy. The list goes on. The Leaf & Vine has locally made, hand-crafted cigar box guitars and local paintings, not to mention its own cigar label. Next door, Hittle’s Jewelers, the oldest jeweler in Troy, creates and engraves custom pieces of jewelry.
Throughout Troy, hand-crafted works of art, whether it’s the furniture and hooked rugs at Canal Street Primitives or the hand-crafted pottery at Muddy Hands Art Studio, can be found when shopping downtown for the afternoon or while exploring the region on vacation.
Reach DCP freelance writer Matt Bayman at MattBayman@DaytonCityPaper.com