Art Live: New art in old mill

Located along the banks of Chester Creek in the village of Rockdale near Aston, a busy colony of artists makes contemporary works of art in a historic cotton mill factory. Heron Studios and Heron Crest Studios are opening their doors again for their annual studio tour and sale on Nov. 23rd and 24th. This will be the second weekend of festivities. Nature inspires many artists here whether it be in their work or in the way they display their work. The 12-foot ceilings and tall windows add to the natural ambiance. There is a lot to see in this unique venue and many artists to talk to. It’s lively and inviting so bring some friends and be prepared to have your senses wowed by the art on display.

Heron Studios Entrance

Heron Studios is located on the first floor. Founded by jeweler Lorri Primavera, painter Mary Gordon and painter/print-maker Marion Kassab, works being produced here include jewelry, pottery, paintings and more. Artists open for visitors include Primavera and Gordon along with residents Jane Porter, Annette Alessi, Melanie Errico and their newest mates, the folks from Dance Happy, who produce an array of fun handcrafted textile products. Several invited guest artists also have work on display. For more details and directions, visit or visit the Facebook page:

Heidi Hammel Studio

Heron Crest Studios is on the second floor. Their event, billed as Art along the Creek, features nineteen artists.  I had an opportunity to talk with a number of artists there including one of the founders, Heidi Hammel. Heron Crest was founded by Hammel and Claire Brill in 2007 in what was once a drapery factory. They started out with eight spacious studios. As word spread and other artists joined, some reconfiguring was done to accommodate folks looking for smaller more affordable space and today there are 21 studios. Hammel manages the day to day operations which also includes running a teaching studio and gallery space.

Hammel’s work consists of re-purposing old wool sweaters by constructing various patterned and solid squares into cozy and fashionable hats, scarves and mittens. She uses traditional sewing techniques and a “fulling” process which basically means she is shrinking wool on purpose to increase the thickness to aid in the construction of her pieces. Her styles will appeal to folks who are fond of argyles and plaids.

Visions of a Loon by Sara Fry

New members Rachel Breeden and Patrick Lyons Neilson couldn’t be farther apart in style. Breeden, a self-taught digital artist creates works reminiscent of 1970s pop art, think Peter Max posters and early Gap advertisements. Neilson, a graduate of PAFA (Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art) is a realist oil painter specializing in highly refined portraits and landscapes who also offers classes in his studio.

Sara Fry is inspired by nature. To say her work is organic is an understatement. She has basically created an extension of the surrounding woods in her studio. It is filled with tree branches, leaves, feathers, horse hair, taxidermy, nests, bones and remnants of hard to identify items. Draped canvas and papers are left in the elements then brought back in, to hang from the walls. Often times her process entails not altering anything and letting natural elements speak for themselves. It’s haunting work.

Marie Tosto works on paper and canvas. She is showing two series; some from her black and white ink drawings and some from her mixed media abstract series. When asked about her process she said she tries not to think when starting a piece, she prefers to let her hand wander on the page and goes with the flow before taking a closer look at the marks made. Later in the process she will begin making deliberate decisions.

There are many more artists to visit with, it is truly a mecca for art lovers. The hours for all the studios are 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more details visit

Other events worth checking out: In Wallingford, Community Arts Center (CAC) and The Potters Guild is presenting a joint Holiday Sale from December 6th to December 14th. A preview party will be held on Thursday, Dec. 5th from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Visit for details.

In Philadelphia, see recent paintings by Keith Ragone at Bahdeebahdu through Dec. 12th. If you have not been to this gallery/showroom on American Street yet, you are in for a real treat. The space also features the fabulous and funky chandeliers of Warren Muller and is an interior design firm too. For more info visit

Whatever you do this week, support the arts!

About Constance McBride

A native of Philadelphia, Constance McBride lived in Arizona for 16 years, where desert observations made a transformative impact on her work as a research based visual artist. Passionate about contemporary art, she was actively engaged in the local arts community. She served as a board member for several art organizations, managed an artist collective/gallery space, curated and juried several exhibitions and wrote for two arts publications in Phoenix. She taught ceramics at Shemer Art Center and Museum and exhibited her work both locally and nationally. McBride returned to Pennsylvania in 2018 and resides in Chester Springs with her husband and two dogs. In West Chester, she serves as a board member at The Art Trust Gallery at Meridian Bank and teaches ceramics at Chester County Art Association. She also teaches at Clay on Main in Oley, PA. She is a member of American Craft Council, Philadelphia Sculptors, and Women’s Caucus for Art, Philadelphia Chapter.



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2 Responses to “Art Live: New art in old mill”

  1. Marie Tosto says:

    So lovely meeting you. Wonderful article! Thank you!!

  2. Constance McBride says:

    It was wonderful meeting you too Marie!

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