Artists' touch make for creative gifts at museum


“When I’m writing I can put aside my symptoms and let the words flow from my heart,” says Melanie Langlois, who has bipolar disorder, a mental condition in which people go back and forth between periods of good or irritable moods and depression. “When I’m painting it’s the same way.”

Langlois is a member of the Robert Street Art Program, one of three residential programs the Kent Center manages in Kent County, and her art is being featured at the third annual Affordable Art Show and Sale at the Warwick Museum of Art (WMOA).

She is one of 68 artists and craftspeople selling handmade items for $32.59 or less. Shoppers can choose from a variety of artwork including drawings, paintings, mixed media, photographs, sculptures and jewelry, as well as crafts such as ceramics, handbags, aprons, scarves, journals, children’s items and more.

Artists hail from Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut, and will replenish their stock throughout the run of the show, which concludes Friday.

Three clients from the Trudeau Center are participants. Among them are Kerri Thornber, who prepares handmade pretzels dipped in chocolate and caramel; Donna Beausoleil, who makes dog biscuits; while George Jabajoorian creates beaded jewelry.

“I’m glad that everybody enjoys my pretzels because I like making them,” said Thornber. “I brought over about 20 and they all sold.”

Beausoleil agreed. She said she’s thrilled that people have been buying her homemade dog treats. A few ingredients are peanut butter, oatmeal and evaporated milk.

“It makes me excited because dogs love them,” she said. “I have two dogs and I think about them a lot.”

Jabajoorian feels the same. He creates necklaces, bracelets and key chains.

“I love it because I get to make money,” he said.

Aside from them, West Greenwich resident Cate McCauley is fired up to sell her interesting works of art, as she is a pyrographic illustrator who draws with a heated pen wrapped in leather that burns paper.

The pen operates with 150 watts and can heat up from 500 to 900 degrees. Artists tend to use them to create art on not only paper, but also wood, leather, gourds and ivory. Her art is hand-drawn, with each piece taking three to five hours to create.

“I draw fast,” said McCauley, a lifelong artist who has worked with corporate clients such as the city of Warwick; the Providence Performing Arts Center; and Roger Williams Park and Zoo.

Additionally, she served as a governor’s appointee to the Providence-Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau on the Executive Board of Directors and with the Rhode Island Arts and Tourism Advisory Council.

Her fine art matted prints depict nature scenes and wild animals like wolves and birds and come in three sizes, including 8-by-10 for $15, and 11-by-12 and 12-by-12 for $25. She takes photographs of animals that frequently dwell in her backyard, including barred owls, and then makes reproductions.

“You can tell because the barred owls have brown eyes,” she said. “There’s a family of them teaching their babies how to hunt in my yard.”

Not only is she excited about the art show, she is also pleased that Fox Chapel Publishing recently asked her to write four articles about pyrography for their next special issue of Pyrography Magazine, which will be available in March 2012.

“I’ve just finished writing them,” she said.

Her husband Leon Couturier is also part of the show. As the president of his own tiling company, he uses scraps to make desk accessories like business card holders.

“He even has made urns,” said McCauley.

Like McCauley, Warwick resident Jayne Berghorn uses paper to make one-of-a-kind pieces, as she designs collage covers of notebooks, making them unique journals. She creates a variety of themes including dogs, cats, travel, dreams, and friendship with multi-dimensional stickers, rubber stamps, photos, magazine clippings, buttons, faux flowers, dried leaves and beads.

“I like to build layers of textures,” said Berghorn, a retired teacher who worked for the Warwick School Department for more than 35 years. She taught at Oakland Beach Elementary School as a reading specialist for 23 years and in special education at Sherman and Holliman for the remaining time.

She started making journals as a personal project to help organize creative ideas but when friends saw them, they requested them as gifts. Now, she takes custom orders for events and occasions like graduations, weddings and baby showers.

“If I create them for friends, I keep their interests in mind while making them,” she said. “I like the uniqueness of each project. I very rarely do the same thing twice. It’s always something new and fresh.”

Berghorn uses lined notebooks, which are $4 for a 4-by-6 journal and $7.50 for 7-by-9. She is thinking about making covers for blank pages, too, so people can have them for drawing journals and was inspired by children she teaches art classes to at the museum during the spring and summer.

Aside from the journals, she also is selling knitted scarves for adults, which range in price from $9 to $12, and children’s hats that feature flowers and bears for $8. Her grandmother taught her how when she was 5 and began making her own designs and patterns when she was 10.

“I’ve been doing it more than 50 years,” she said. “I had 12 or 15 scarves and at least eight of them are sold already.”

East Greenwich potter Elizabeth Holstein creates stoneware and porcelain pottery that are finished with glaze. She began doing ceramics in high school and continued through college but put her hobby on hold when she became an archeologist, traveled the country, and later had children.

But 11 years ago she was able to get back into it and primarily works from her home studio, making bowls, mugs, coasters, vases, wine holders, earring trees and sea glass wind chimes.

“It’s all practical,” she said of her variously priced items. “You can heat up something in the microwave and then put it in the dishwasher. It’s oven to table stuff and my jewelry holders are functional and esthetic. I enjoy making it and I hope people enjoy using it.”

Jewelry maker Nicki Rose also enjoys her craft. She started making jewelry professionally more than a year ago.

“It brings me into a whole different realm,” she said. “It takes me to a place where I can be creative. I’ll get lost in it and think an hour went by but it was really three hours.”

The WMOA will host a special shopping night for men called Guy’s Night Out on Thursday, as Program Director Patty Martucci said men often wait to get gifts “until the last minute.”

Volunteers will assist men of all ages with their purchases, with free gift-wrapping. There will also be a beer tasting to make it a relaxing and fun shopping excursion. It will begin at 6 p.m. and conclude at 9.

Normal shopping hours are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 12 to 4 p.m.; Thursdays from noon to 8 p.m.; and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free but donations to WMOA will be received. Cash and checks are accepted.

The WMOA is located at 3259 Post Road in Historic Apponaug Village. For more information, visit the WMOA website at or call during show hours at 401-737-0010. Find the museum on Facebook and Twitter.


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