The Browns and their menagerie of farm animals will be in the spotlight during Thanksgiving weekend's Made in Mathews Open Studio Tour. Rosalie and Larry Brown are old hands at this - they've been participating in similar events for 47 years. This is the 19th year they've opened their farm for the Open Studio Tour, and Larry Brown says they have plenty for folks to see.
"We'll have demonstrations of spinning, weaving and knitting," he said. "Both Rosalie and Larry believe it's important for people, especially children, to see a bit of their heritage." Larry's antique tool collection will be displayed as well, and visitors will be able to meet each of the farm animals that reside there. This includes Katie Brown who, when she was a lamb, believed she was a dog. Katie made her premier appearance at the first Made in Mathews Open Studio Tour in 2002 by prancing though the Browns' house and curling up beside the fireplace. Katie is grown now and will be in the field this year.
The Browns have lived on Bentwaters Farm for 40 years. They moved from Gloucester to Mathews because Larry wanted to live beside the water. Rosalie fell in love with the house. Situated beside Pepper Creek right off of the Mobjack Bay, the farm seems an ideal place for raising animals, weaving and carving, they said.
This year, visitors will be able to buy items such as hand-woven and knitted shawls and scarves, hand-spun yarn, hand-painted silk scarves, bags, rag rugs, and hand-carved walking sticks, hiking staffs and canes. Most of these items come directly from the farm.
Rosalie says that the farm has been a natural progression of events for her. As a girl growing up in Hampshire on the south coast of England, she learned to knit and weave. Since then, she's always worked with her hands. The couple raised several goats when they lived in Gloucester, but when they moved to Mathews, Rosalie decided to get some sheep.
"After that, I got the lamas and then I had to do something with all of that wool."
"I very seldom plan any specific project," she said. "I'll go into the studio and pull colors of wool and yarn and will decide what I'm going to do with it, weave a shawl or a scarf." Her artistic process makes each item she crafts completely unique.
Larry's hand-carved walking sticks are one-of-a kind, too. The wood he uses can be anything from branches found in the mountains to the wood from Rosalie's pruning. He says if it catches his eye, he snaps it up. And he's usually pleased with the end result. "It's always like opening presents on Christmas morning. I never know what they're going to turn out to be. I start with a stick that God created and I go from there."
aren't the only things raised on the farm. The Browns grow and sell
blueberries, pecans and chestnuts. When not tending the animals,
carving, spinning or weaving.
For right now, they're putting the finishing touches on their exhibits, making sure their products are ready and sprucing up the animals. Larry says the Open Studio Tour has been good for both Mathews County and the individual artists who participate.
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