For the Salida Studio Tour, 31 working artists welcomed the public into their studios and homes Saturday and Sunday, showing their work and taking the opportunity to educate people on how their artwork is made.

“A tour like this is beneficial because it’s an opportunity to really explain what I do,” artist P.J. Bergin said. “It takes the mystery out of it, and people start to understand how much work it takes.”

Bergin creates her artwork using mulberry paper, also known by its Korean name, hanji.

The neat thing about mulberry paper, she said, is that when it gets wet, it fuses together.

“I use the natural character of the handmade paper to make my artwork,” she said. “People are quite amazed at how it’s made.”

Wanda Lee Dammeyer also opened her home studio and was happy to explain how she makes her bronze sculptures.

Dammeyer uses an oil-based clay that doesn’t harden to make her pieces, which she said take “hundreds of hours” to complete. Then, once she finishes carving, she takes the clay piece to a foundry in Loveland where it goes through several more steps in the “lost wax method” to create hollow, bronze sculptures that are about a quarter-inch thick.

“It’s nice to be able to explain the process,” she said. “And it’s nice for people to come to us instead of setting up at a show.” Her husband, Daryl, said he appreciated not having to lift and transport the heavy pieces as well.

Bernice and Mel Strawn returned to the studio tour this year and welcomed lots of people into their house in Poncha Springs.

“I’m surprised how many people came out to find this place,” Bernice said.

“It’s kind of fun,” Mel said. “It comes in waves; eight people will come at once and then we’ll sit for an hour.”

The couple had sculptures, solar prints and paintings on display at their house. Mel explained to visitors the process he uses to make solar prints.

“It’s been a lot of fun to share our art with people and become part of their lives,” he said, also noting that they had a “number of sales.”

“Everybody seems to be appreciative,” he said.

In addition to educating people on their art and selling some pieces, the Salida Studio Tour also gave the artists a chance to tour each other’s studios and mingle on Thursday before the public tour over the weekend.

“It was a lot of fun,” Dammeyer said. “There’s such a diversity of talent; it was really nice.”

“The overall quality of artists around here is really good,” her husband, Daryl Dammeyer, said. “It was neat to meet them.”

The tour also included artists who don’t have their own galleries, giving them some exposure they might not get otherwise.

“There are so many artists on the tour that most people don’t know live in the area,” Bergin said. “It gives people a chance to meet all of them; it’s such a wonderful matter of discovery.”

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