Posted by: Kath Usitalo | November 10, 2011

Homemade: You Oughta Know The Ottesons

A darling little dish made by an artist, not a machine

This cute little leaf-shaped dish, the perfect size for a tealight, was created by ceramics artist Johanne E. Otteson of Rose City.

Johanne and her husband Jack Owen Otteson, a blacksmith, make things in their Water’s Edge Studios at their home in the northern Lower Peninsula.

I’ve not met the artistic couple but talked to them by phone after receiving the leaf dish as a gift from my sister Karen. She’d bought in August at the annual Black Iron Days at Hartwick Pines State Park near Grayling, where the Ottesons were participating. I wanted to find out more about her nature-themed pottery and his metalwork, so I called and had a short but sweet conversation with them.

Pottery by Johanne Otteson (provided photo)

According to Johanne, Jack puts his blacksmithing skills to use making nifty hooks, knobs, and other small home decor accessories.

According to Jack, his metal output is low; he mostly helps Johanne cart around, set up, and sell her functional pieces at juried shows across Michigan.

Jack sent photos and a note about how Johanne creates the high fired stoneware. Between his blacksmithing and her 2350-degree F kiln, we’re talking about one hot couple.

You can catch Johanne and Jack at the annual Holiday Art Fair November 19-20 at the Dow Museum at the Midland Center for the Arts. The event runs from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Noon-4 p.m. Sunday; admission is charged.

Water’s Edge Studios has no website but you can email or phone 989.685.8092.

Getting to know the artist—or just knowing there is an artist, not a machine—behind an object makes a gift even more special.

Whether it’s something from the Ottesons or another talented artist or crafter, think about checking items off of your holiday shopping list with handmade goods. Is it my imagination or is there a greater trend in that direction?

One example:

A friend posted this message (left) on Facebook with info on the Handmade Holiday Gift Boutique & Christmas Open House, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. November 19 and 26 at Willow Pond Farm in Armada.

It looks like a fun way to get into the holiday spirit, with locally-made gifts, door prizes, refreshments and free admission, all in a vintage barn. For details and directions check out the Facebook page hosted by I Love Lavender.

Saturday, Novemember 12

This weekend you’ll find handcrafted items as well as imports, foods and music from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland at the annual Scandinavian Bazaar, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday, November 12 at the Finnish Cultural Center on Eight Mile west of Farmington Road in Farmington Hills.


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