By Betsy Natter
Eastern Pennsylvania is richly steeped in history and traditional arts, practiced and preserved for future generations by the skillful and resourceful German settlers who inhabited our region. Many of these historic art collections are displayed in museums and even homes throughout the area. For those who want to keep the traditions alive, several area workshops are available where both kids and adults can discover the history of these unique crafts as well as learn how to recreate their own pieces of art. Explore a new art form at one of the exhibits or workshops listed below.
A Riot of Color: Quilts from the Community – Exhibit
Mennonite Heritage Center
565 Yoder Rd., Harleysville, PA 19438
This ongoing exhibit at the Heritage Center Museum features 30 colorful quilts made in the Mennonite communities of Montgomery and Bucks counties. They feature a variety of styles, some with patterns and some with crazy color combinations and patchwork construction representative of the PA Dutch culture during the late 19th to mid-20th centuries. A few of the pieces also include the story behind the making of the quilt. The museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 5 pm and Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm. There is a $5 donation. The exhibit runs through March 3, 2017.
From the Potter’s Hand – Kids Pottery program
Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center
105 Seminary Street Pennsburg, PA 18073
The Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center not only houses a large collection of books and manuscripts detailing local Pennsylvania German culture and life, but they also have a large display of redware, pottery named after the red color of the local clay used to fashion the pieces. Local artisans created plates and pitchers for daily use and decorated them with slip and glaze. This children’s program will provide a history of the art form and give participants a chance to make their own piece. The program is offered on Tuesday, February 7 from 1:30 – 3:00 pm or Saturday, February 11 from 1:00 – 2:30 pm. A snack is included in the $5 registration fee. The registration information and form are available at http://schwenkfelder.com/Graphics/Winter%2016-17%20Workshop%20Registration.pdf.
5 Haldeman Rd., Schwenksville, PA 19473
Spend the morning making vintage Valentines in this craft workshop for kids on Sat., Feb. 11 from 10am to 12pm. Children ages 5 and over can make a special 3D card, two hanging decorations, and a gift to share with someone special. Participants must be pre-registered and pre-paid by Feb. 7th and accompanied by an adult. Refreshments will be served. Visit http://www.montcopa.org/2196/Programs-Events-Schedule for the registration form.
Peter Wentz Farmstead
2030 Shearer Rd., Lansdale, PA 19446
Peter Wentz Farmstead will hold two Valentines programs in its “Kinnergschpiel” or “Child’s Play” program series. Children will learn to cut Valentines in the traditional methods of German Scherenschnitte or “scissor cutting,” and Fraktur as they cut shapes and paint their own Valentines. The programs, held at 10am and again at 1pm, are designed for children ages 3 and older. Participants must be pre-registered and accompanied by an adult. A $5 fee applies.
Paper Marbling Workshop
100 West King St., Pottstown, PA 19464
This unique class on Feb. 11 from 10 am to 3 pm is designed to teach the art of paper marbling. The technique begins by designing colors on a base fluid and then transferring the design to paper. The workshop will be taught by craftsman Ramon Townsend from Colonial Bindery in Exton. Students will be able to create approximately 20-25 sheets of the beautiful artwork, frequently used in older books as endpapers. Participants must be age 14 or older and need to pre-register and pre-pay by Feb. 1 as class size is limited to 10 students. See http://www.montcopa.org/DocumentCenter/View/15605 to register.
The Art of Fraktur Workshop
5 Haldeman Rd., Schwenksville, PA 19473
This class on Sat., Feb. 25th at 10:00 am will teach adults the PA German art form of fraktur. The hands-on workshop will provide instruction on how to form the “frakturschriften,” or the “broken” lettering which is a form of calligraphy, as well as the colorful, stylized artwork that makes up the traditional house blessings. Participants will work on a piece that will fit into a 5”x7” frame. Pre-registration and payment of the $35 fee are required by Feb. 21st. The registration form is available at http://pa-montgomerycounty2.civicplus.com/DocumentCenter/View/15589.