Road Trip to Berea, Ky. for The Festival of Learnshops

My husband and I recently enjoyed a long weekend in Kentucky. It was a whirlwind weekend, full of the sights and sounds of central Kentucky. We explored Frankfort, Shelbyville, Keeneland, Lexington, and Berea.

The charm of Berea Kentucky

I wanted to start off our round of Kentucky posts with Berea, Kentucky as they have a great set of workshops coming up in July – The Festival of Learnshops.

I’ll get to what we experienced in our own little jewelry making class, but first – a few words about Berea…

Berea is located in the heart of Kentucky, about 40 miles south of Lexington. Known as “The Folk Arts & Crafts Capital of Kentucky”, Berea is a charming town full of artisans, craftsmen, and makers. In Berea you’ll find 40 arts and crafts shops featuring everything from handmade dulcimers and homemade chocolate to jewelry stores, art galleries, quilt-makers, and even glassblowing studios. And Berea is, of course, home to Berea College.

bereaky (1 of 1)

After arriving to Berea we settled in at our hotel for the evening – The Boone Tavern. Built in 1909, The Boone Tavern was named after Appalachian hero Daniel Boone.

Boone Tavern sign in Berea Ky

Over the years, Boone Tavern has hosted many visitors including Dalai Lama, Henry Ford, President and Mrs. Calvin Coolidge, Eleanor Roosevelt, Maya Angelou, and Robert Frost. We enjoyed our stay there and loved how easy it was to walk around and explore the town from our temporary home.

Boone Tavern in Berea Ky

On Sunday, we headed to the Artisan Village for our class at Gastineau Studio.

Making jewelry at Glastineau Studio in Berea

Our class was the “Copper Fold Formed, Forged and Stamped Bracelet” with artisan Ken Gastineau. The class was held in his workshop. We learned about his history and took a tour of his workshop (which was amazing). And then we dug into the meat of our class…

Copper bracelet making in Berea

We started with some very raw materials. Ken cut us each a strip of copper and then we sat at our own individual workstations to get started.

Working with copper at Gastineau Studios in Berea Ky

With Ken’s direction, we used the tools to stamp and hammer our copper into the design of our choosing.

heating up the copper for bracelets in Berea Ky

As the class name implies, the bracelet is folded as part of the design process. After our designs were applied to the copper we bent the copper in half along the line we etched earlier, creating a folded piece. Ken heated those up for us and then dipped them into water before returning to us. While they were still warm enough, we started to bend them into shape.

shaping the copper bracelet

Working very carefully, we hammered and pulled and tugged… until we had a nice arc.

heating up the bracelets at Gastineau Studio
Opening copper pieces for bracelets
putting the finishing touches on a bracelet

After we pounded the strip into shape, Ken opened it up for us and put it onto his “mold” to shape it into a bracelet for us. We tinkered with it a bit to get the proper fit and then buffed it into a beautiful work of art… which we got to keep!

Copper bracelet making at Gastineau Studios in Berea

Afterwards we got a behind the scenes look at how he makes his Pewter Julep cups. The cup below started as a flat, round disk of pewter. The pictures below show the process at about a quarter and a half way through (repsectively).

Pewter Julep Cups at Learnshops in Berea
Making Mint Julep mugs in Berea Ky

After the cup is finished, the bottom gets his “hallmark”.

marking Julep cups at Glastineau Studios in Berea, Ky.
Julep Cups from Glastineau Studios

And, if you can believe it, we actually had time for a late lunch in Berea after our class. We headed back towards the hotel and enjoyed this…

pizza from PapaLeno's in Berea, Ky.

an amazing pizza pie from PapaLeno’s. Operating in Berea for 30+ years, we were told that PapaLeno’s is a local favorite. And we can definitely understand why!

PapaLeno's in Berea, Ky.

We had a great time in Berea and thoroughly enjoyed our class as part of their Learnshops.

Disclosure: The Recreation Tourism & Convention Commission provided us with lodging, two complimentary admissions for the class, and treated us to lunch as well.

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