By Gwen Heffner
Part of the excitement during the holidays is shopping for the perfect gift for family and friends and the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is just the place to discover distinctive Kentucky-made treasures. Whether you are shopping for special gifts or preparing your home for the holidays, the center, conveniently located off Interstate 75, offers an astonishing array of beautiful gifts created by more than 700 artisans.
As you enter the center’s lobby, an 18-foot Christmas tree decorated with sports-themed ornaments immediately puts you in the holiday mood. Ornaments on this tree range from folk art to contemporary – with everything from carved wooden red cardinals to blue and white hand-blown glass ornaments. The sports fan on your list might enjoy an ornament from this tree or perhaps a work from the center’s gallery exhibit, “Capturing the Art of Sport.”
Every Saturday you’ll find an artisan demonstrating from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., showing how pottery, paintings, quilts, carved wooden ornaments and other artworks are made. Musical performances on Saturdays are from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and staff can help you find beautiful home decor from the selection of paintings, photographs and prints, and an array of fine wooden furniture including some made from Bourbon barrels!
Winter weather can be held at bay with beautifully designed silk, woven, crochet, and knitted scarves as well as sewn, felted and stitched hats and shawls. A variety of Kentucky-made beauty products, including soaps and lotions, are just right for stocking stuffers.
Shopping for the cook on your holiday list is easy with the center’s wide selection of fine cookbooks and specialty foods, some made with Bourbon for a unique Kentucky gift. Shoppers will find Gethsemane Trappist Kentucky Bourbon Fruitcakes; Ruth Hunt and Woodford Reserve Bourbon Balls; Evan Williams Bourbon Apple Butter; Bourbon Barrel Vanilla and Smoked Pepper; Kentucky Chocolates Bourbon Cherries; Jim Beam’s Wing Sauce; Pappy’s Moonshine Madness and more.
Food preparation and presentation are enhanced with wooden utensils, cutting boards and turned wooden bowls. Pottery for serving and preparing food abounds, with mixing bowls, mugs, teapots, and serving dishes in a multitude of shapes and designs.
Browse through a selection of books by Kentucky authors to satisfy the avid readers on your holiday shopping list, and find a great collection of children’s books and toys.
Enjoy refreshment and relaxation with fresh entrees from the Artisan Café to make your holiday shopping experience at the Kentucky Artisan Center a true pleasure.
The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is located at 200 Artisan Way, just off Interstate 75 at Berea, Exit 77. The center’s exhibits, shopping and travel information areas are open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the café is open from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Admission is free. The center features works by more than 700 artisans from 100 counties across the Commonwealth. For more information call 859-985-5448, or visit www.kentuckyartisancenter.ky.gov
For those interested in a hands-on crafting experience for the holidays, Berea offers the 12 Days of Christmas. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Nov. 29 to Dec. 22, make a gift with your own hands in workshops on jewelry, fiber arts, woodworking, stained glass and other crafts. Find more information at www.berea.com/12days
If you can’t make it to Berea, remember that museums and galleries throughout the state are great places to shop for Kentucky-made arts and crafts for all the people on your holiday list.