By Linda DeHaven
Allow me to introduce a few of the artists that have joined the artists movement in Union City.
Tony and Robin Behr of Greenville found a lifestyle that is very rewarding. After working in another town on a detail, Robin came across some pictures of what she assumed were llamas. She inquired and was told they were alpacas. She went home and told her husband, “You have to see these beautiful animals.” After doing some research, they purchased their first two girls. They immediately knew that the livestock called alpaca was the business they wanted.
Next, what to name their business. Wanting to establish a name that represented the family they came up with “Humble Shepherds.” Wanting to be humble for our blessing and be shepherds to others, it was decided all the animals born on their farm would be named after biblical figures. Thusly, they have Naomi, Rebekah, Noah, Moses, Abraham, Esther and Sara.
The Behrs find the alpacas interesting to observe, but the fiber they produce provides the most beautiful wearable products seen or worn. The alpacas are shorn once a year. This fiber is strong, resilient, light weight and luxurious. It is best known for its soft silky feel and incredible warmth. Behr skirts the fiber, removes any waste and prepares it to be sent to the fiber mill. The mill take the fiber and make socks, sweaters, blankets, gloves, hats, yarn and many other products that are incredibly soft and warm. The finished product is then sold.
The fiber from the alpaca is soft as cashmere and warmer, lighter and stronger than wool. It comes in more colors than any other fiber producing animal (approximately 22 colors with many variations and blends). This cashmere-like fleece, once reserved for the Incan royalty is now enjoyed by spinners and weavers around the world.
Over 30 percent of American consumers surveyed claim to be allergic to wool. These same people can wear cashmere or alpaca with no adverse reaction. Alpaca is a soft fiber, which can be worn next to the skin because of its fineness.
The Behrs plan to open a store at their residence in the fall of 2015. They invite you to the farm for a visit and see for yourself the beautiful alpaca at 6493 Requarth Road in Greenville. Visit their display of beautiful alpaca products at the Art Hub in Union City located at 215 N. Columbia St.
Another artist also displaying her pottery at the Art Hub is Mary Boettger, a recently retired art teacher. Her students have excelled under her guidance and now participate in many art activities in downtown Union City. Boettger creates both functional and decorative ceramic pieces using porcelain and stoneware clays. All of her designs are original and all of her work is handcrafted by Boettger, using hand-built and wheel-thrown techniques.
Her main source of inspiration comes from nature. She spends considerable time getting lost in the making of small attachments and carving when the clay is leather hard, as this is her favorite part of the process. Once the work is fired, it is glazed and fired again to cone 6 or 10. All of the interior surfaces of her functional work are glazed with food safe glazes. She is most interested in making unique pieces that are loved and used by their owners.
Boettger has a bachelor’s degree in art education from Ohio State University and a master’s degree in fine arts from Ball State University with an additional 20 graduate credits in ceramics. Through this education, and from working for 27 years as an art teacher in Ohio public schools, she has learned that she has a strong preference for working with clay, and just can’t stay away from it.
Boettger has also attended many workshops and conferences related to ceramics from ceramic masters like John Peterson, Ted Neal, Susan Filey and John Britt, among others. Boettger now works full-time from her home studio in rural Randolph County, northwest of Union City, Indiana.
Both artists will be giving demonstrations at the Art Hub later this year.
Coming events for Union City include the Stateline Heritage Days Festival July 29-Aug. 1. Some events during those days include “Most Photogenic Baby and Pampered Pets Contest. Voting for these contests and entries can be obtained at Jo’s Corner Florist, 313 N. Columbia St. The 12th annual “Summertime” Photography Show will be held at the historic “Arts Depot sponsored by the Art Association of Randolph County. The Kick-Off Luncheon will be held on the 29th at 11:30 a.m. at the Elks Club in Union City. Tickets must be purchased for the luncheon by July 24. Call 765-964-3666.
Ask what you can do for your community today and join the movement of arts in Union City!