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For Loveland Artists, Ancestral Ideas Inspire Contemporary Designs

With three large pots on the stove, you might think a multicourse meal is forthcoming. But artist Sheron Rowland is stewing bugs.

“Anytime you see sort of a waxy foam on a prickly pear cactus that’s Cochineal,” Rowland said. “It looks like mold or mildew but its Cochineal it’s a red insect.”

Rowland will often spend hours or days stewing plants, flowers or, in this instance cochineal to create her dye. The spoils yield a vibrant red color that can be used on a variety of garments.

“The neat thing is that this will produce color over and over and over,” Rowland said.

Whether it’s making naturally dyed garments or forging metal into jewelry, Rowland and the other artists at Ildanach Studios in Loveland buck modernity. They create artwork using techniques that can be traced to ancient Egypt and Anglo-Saxon times.

Why? The artists agreed; it’s a labor of love, and one of increased importance in today’s same-day delivery society.

“I really love doing this,” said Rowland. “I love taking things that people consider scrap or waste, and saying, ‘look, look at how beautiful this is – or how delicious this is - how could you not love this?’”

Before joining Ildanach Studios, Wendy Neathery-Wise said her job as a research coordinator left her “burnt out.” Now she happily burns, and bangs, things all day long.

“I don’t think I’ll ever go back,” Neathery-Wise said.

It is those long forgotten processes that co-owner and metal artist Curtis Rowland said is the foundation for the works of wearable art Ildanach creates.

“As an artist to me that’s part of what determined my focus in metal smithing was to have it be more hands-on,” Curtis Rowland said. “To have this medium that flows through so many stages: From solid, to liquid, using fire, and air, and earth and even water; using the elements to create this artwork.”

While the artists mine the past for their techniques, their approach is decidedly future-focused.

Credit Courtesy Ildanach Studios
The straw bale structure home to Ildanach Studios in Loveland.

Inside their eco-friendly straw bale building, environmental sustainability is paramount, with much of the jewelry is crafted from recycled copper.

Curtis Rowland said art, beyond a form of expression, is also instructive because it requires applied knowledge.

“It takes mathematics and it take science and it incorporates all those things and it takes it above and beyond the academic level into the level where we can practice it as an individual as a human being and create just amazing synergy with our chosen medium,” he said.

Arts District is a collaboration of KUNC, RMPBS, and KUVO

A native of Stamford, VT, I call(ed) the Berkshires of western Massachusetts my home. The Berkshires are a culturally rich area -- I’m talking pass the butter and heavy cream -- rich.
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