The Softer Side of Iron Forger Peter O’Shaugnessy

Form is his thing:   Take something raw and transform it into beauty.   Conform nature to his aesthetic taste.

Forging iron captures the creative energy of fire and iron.

Peter similarly transforms soil, seeds, bulbs and sun into a colorful palette of nature in his flower gardens.  He forms his gardens like he forms his iron, with creative deliberation.

Very colorful dahlias and day lilies thrive in the South River bottom land.

He simply loves the color, the beauty and the creative expression.   [Probably also another way to get his hands dirty!]

Emotions & Memories

Emotions + Images = Memories.

Or is it Memories + Images = Emotions?

Images can strike a chord, capture a memory or evoke emotion.  Throughout the years, many return to Artists in Cahoots to share stories about what Gail MacLeod’s images mean to them.  Here are a few stories that stand out.

blog pics 2017 (2 of 6)In December 2009, the town & freeways were shut down by a snow storm.   Traveling was impossible.   One man shared that his grandson was born that day and he couldn’t be there because of the snow.   Seeing this snowy image, he smiled ear to ear and said he would keep this for himself but would ultimately give it to his grandson to memorialize the day of his birth.

blog pics 2017 (1 of 6)

I captured this image of a beautiful horse in Collierstown.   Many years later, a woman saw the photo and told me the horse has now passed but she knew the owner.   The owner was thrilled to have this delightful image of her horse.


Charlie the cow (front left) already had a press packet when his owner came to the shop and saw this pic.  He shared that a picture of his grandfather bottle feeding Charlie was front page news many years ago.  Charlie was special to this family and was being well taken care of in his old age.

blog pics 2017 (3 of 6)Many times people purchase my Rockbridge county scenes for an out-of-state loved one.   One man wanted one for his mom who was in a nursing home in Kentucky.   Another wanted one for her daughter stationed overseas.  One young woman smiled upon buying a small framed landscape, remarking how it would bring the beauty of Rockbridge County to her small New York apartment.

blog pics 2017 (6 of 6)One favorite is this 2013 composite of everyday life in downtown Lexington.   Parts of more than 20 images were seamlessly merged.    One day we’ll laugh at this remembering the fashions and styles of the time.  Consider for example the young woman in shorts with cowboy boots.


Their smiles make me smile and help motivate me to get up at dawn to capture the beauty of this area.

Do you have a MacLeod photo that captures a memory of yours?   Please share in the Reply section below, and we’ll share it on our Facebook page.

Jan Jarrard – Fossil Hunter & Potter

Goshen Pass has fossils of sea creatures??   Ocean loving sea creatures?  And this has WHAT to do with art & pottery?

We turn to the pottery by Jan Jarrard to answer that.

Eons ago, when Rockbridge County looked like the Bahamas, sea creature skeletons were trapped in ooze that turned to rock over time.  This rock and its hidden treasures appear on House and Poor House Mountain and in Goshen Pass among numerous other nearby places.

Finding these fossils combined Jan’s love of both science and art, and fueled her creative energy. She created stamps of these fossils and imprinted her pottery.

Geologists and other friends have contributed to the variety of gastropods, bivalves and brachiopods Jan uses in making the unique free-form cups that once again bring together, science and art.

Jan’s pottery has always captured the juxtaposition of science & art:   the  chemistry in the mixing of glazes, experimentation in the layering of glazes, engineering in pottery design, and always the art in having the creative vision and portraying it in clay.

Her fossil stamped pottery goes one step further by artistically capturing and sharing hidden geological features of Rockbridge County with all of us.jj-blog-pic

Genevieve Neice as Studio Wheelwright


My grandmother at an art show in the early 1960’s.

I was named after my grandmother, Genevieve Wheelwright. She was so talented and creative, I spent my early childhood in her company, watching as she delicately assembled her beautiful Christmas ornaments. They were covered with flower arrangements made of sequins held together with straight pins, the heads of which she had painted with nail polish to match her color scheme.


One of her ornaments.

Some of my earliest memories are of the time spent watching her work. I credit her with my talent and my interest in design, color, and pattern. She would show me how to use perspective when drawing houses, gently correcting me when my chimney would emerge from the roof at the wrong angle. She worked in various mediums, not restricting herself to just one, something I find myself doing as well.

My grandmother passed away when I was young. I wanted to honor her memory and her gifts to me by naming my artistic pursuits “Studio Wheelwright” because without her influence I wouldn’t see and explore the world as I do.


Watercolor landscape by my grandmother.

She would sign her work with a pictogram of her last name, a wheel and an arrow pointing right. I can’t take credit for the idea, but I use it when identifying my body of work. So that is the story behind my work. – Genevieve Neice, 2017


Her “signature”.

International Notoriety for Lee Sauder

How does a Rockbridge County blacksmith become a highly regarded colleague of archaeologists around the world?

It started in the 1990’s, when Lee Sauder and a colleague in England were among the few trying to replicate a forgotten smelting process to create usable iron.

Turns out this smelting process enables academics/archaeologists to extrapolate previously unknown details about ancient civilizations.  And our very own Lee Sauder thus became an integral part of other nations’ efforts to uncover ancient history.


Lee spent months in Sudan, on the banks of the Nile, working with the University College of London archeologists to figure out how the ancient Meroe civilization made iron way back in 400bc.


lee-sauder-ironHe’s been to the Italian island of Elba, one source of the Roman Empire’s iron ore, where he made an iron bloom which archaeometallurgists are using as a template to check the origin of their archeological finds.

lee-sauder-in-polandHe just returned from Poland where he compared contemporary iron smelting techniques with European smiths at an international conference.



But usually he’s at home, in his smelting yard, making iron from scratch…

that he forges into lyrical sculptures.


And occasionally you can find him at his forge hammering out the bowls, bottle openers and cheese knives that we carry at Artists in Cahoots.



Elizabeth Sauder, Cahoots’ Wild Child

The first week of every month we will feature little known back stories of the artists you’ll find at Artists in Cahoots.   This is our first – look for more to come.  Between these features, we’ll throw in a some breaking news.  Stay tuned.


Elizabeth Sauder is always plotting a creative adventure.


Wanting to paint where the horizon is visible in all directions, Elizabeth hopped a train to Nebraska. She’d never been there before; she knew no one there.  She just felt it was something she needed to do.  A total change of scenery and inspiration, the antithesis of the Shenandoah Valley.


She headed to Great Britain where she sought a place for creative inspiration.   She chose Cornwall, where she struggled to find her muse, but then it happened: a whole new style and a whole new feel.   Amazing.

Elizabeth Sauder

Elizabeth as a carny?   Not expected, but the inspiration hit.   She traveled with carnivals around Southwest Virginia.  Camping where they camp and spending time capturing their sense of place.

Welcome to the Artists in Cahoots Blog

This is our first post – now we need to get organized to regularly post about the great things happening at Cahoots and the antics of our wonderful artists and craftspeople.    Please stay tuned, we should have our act together in a week or two!

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