The Journal Gazette
Sunday, November 26, 2017 1:00 am

Holiday for creativity

Local craftspeople apply talent, ideas to artwork for sale

TERRI RICHARDSON | The Journal Gazette

An artist's work is never done. That's more true during the holiday season than at any other time.

And while most local artists exhibit their work year-round, it is the holidays when most people begin looking for that unique gift or that something special for a loved one or that hard-to-buy-for person who has everything.

A few local artists shared their holiday work and how they have mastered their craft.

Jerry Krider

Krider made his first Nativity scene out of a piece of cedar from a tree that his sister had cut down at her home. He made four Nativity sets for her children. After that, he began to use wood leftover from his work making bassoons at Fox Products in South Whitley. The company used a lot of exotic wood, an element that he continues to use in his scenes.

Krider makes about 50 types of Nativity scenes, all from exotic woods but with different patterns. Some are 3-D pieces, while others are puzzles.

Krider uses such woods as red heart from Mexico, maple and walnut. He likes to go to the stores to see the wood so he knows he is getting good quality and the colors he needs for his designs. For autumn pieces, he will use six colors of wood; for winter, he uses a whitewood to show snow on branches.

Growing up in Columbia City, where he still lives, Krider says his family went to church and that making Nativity scenes “was a logical extension of my faith and my interest in art.”

Krider has been selling his art full time since 1997. Most can be found at art shows or in area galleries, such as the Orchard Gallery on Covington Road.

He says he had an interest working with wood while in high school. He went to art school and graduated from Ball State in 1966.

And while he learned the principles of design and working with 3-D designs in school, the Nativity scenes and woodworking are something he developed on his own, Krider says.

Nativity scenes, however, are not the only thing Krider makes. He also makes puzzles in other shapes, such as cats or dogs.

Krider doesn't have a website, but he says people can Google his name and find out what galleries have his artwork.

Julia Guerin

Guerin has become a plush animal mad scientist of sorts. It is through her work with soft sculpture that she has created FrankenFuzzies.

The strange creatures are made from upcycled stuffed animals she has rescued from local thrift stores. She cleans them up, then tears them apart to create an endless combination of designs.

And as a personal touch, each creature comes with its own name and story. This is when Guerin and her husband have a lot of fun, she says.

“We'll sit down and start playing with them. They have their own voices.” Then they come up with the perfect moniker and back story.

Guerin, an art teacher at Churubusco Elementary School, is also a painter, but she decided to give FrankenFuzzies a go after people she knew became obsessed with them. She came up with the idea while studying abroad in Australia.

The creatures appeal to both kids and adults, the 31-year-old Fort Wayne resident says. They are made for “cuddles or conversations,” she says.

Her work can be found at Fort Wayne Museum of Art, on Etsy, on Facebook or at the upcoming The Art Market at Artlink. In addition, her paintings can be found at

Guerin says her creations are her way of keeping the plush animals out of the landfills.

“(I see) the animals at Goodwill, they're all sad and no one buys them anymore,” she says. “(I) give them a new life so they can be loved again.”

Kristy Jo Beber

Beber never thought about doing holiday artwork until she did a 2014 Halloween exhibition. After that, the next obvious thing was winter and Christmas, she says, laughing.

“I feel like the ideas are growing every year,” she says. “It's enjoyable for me to get out of the normal.”

Beber says her holiday art has exposed her artwork to a new audience of people “who wouldn't normally buy my pottery.”

The 39-year-old Fort Wayne resident has being doing pottery since 2000. She went to school for a bachelor of fine arts degree and had to take classes in all media. Although she is geared to photography, she says it was in a ceramics class that inspiration hit.

Beber works out of her studio in Leo-Cedarville. Her 25-cubic-foot kiln takes about five weeks to fill. With pottery, there is a lot of down time, with drying, firing twice and cooling, Beber says. That's why she has a schedule in mind a few months in advance.

“It definitely takes advanced planning,” she says.

Beber finished her Halloween designs in mid-September, then right after that started making winter and Christmas designs, finishing at the end of October.

In addition to Santas and snowmen, Beber has other designs, including many that are winter-themed. Her work can be found at the Orchard Gallery or at local art fairs.

Holiday art

Following are some of the area's holiday art shows.

What: “Art for the Holidays: Featuring Handmade Ornaments and Nativities”

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday through Dec. 30; open house, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Where: The Orchard Gallery of Fine Art, 6312-A Covington Road


What: The Art Studio Holiday Gallery

When: 2 to 8 p.m. Fridays, noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 24

Where: Jefferson Pointe, 4130 W. Jefferson Blvd.

What: Women's Winter Art Fair presented by Sophia's Portico

When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren, 2810 Beacon St.

What: The Art Market: Winter Edition

When: Noon to 7 p.m. Dec. 16

Where: Artlink Contemporary Gallery, 300 E. Main St.


What: “Celebrates the Holidays”

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday through Dec. 31

Where: Crestwoods Gallery, 314 N. Main St., Roanoke


What: Holiday Art Displays

When: 5 to 8 p.m. today, 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday through Jan. 19

Where: Garrett Museum of Art, 100 S. Randolph St., Garrett


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