Inside CM: Meet the Artists

For our holiday issue installment of We Love, we searched far and wide — within the Triangle, that is — to find local artisans and crafters who make one-of-a-kind pieces perfect for gifting.

They’re your neighbors, your friends, and people just like you. Here’s a look at who they are.


Rocking Frog, Cary
Andy Steude created his first rocking frog toy for his 3-year-old daughter. At the urging of friends and family, he began to create more rocking animals to sell. Now his repertoire includes the frog, several dogs, a kangaroo with joey and a pony. Steude learned woodworking from his father and developed a love for quality craftsmanship using natural materials. Steude prefers to work with eco-friendly bamboo and uses all natural oil wax finishes that let the beauty of the wood shine. Eddie Bauer selected Steude’s Chocolate Lab Rocking Dog for inclusion in its 2011 and 2012 holiday catalogs. Golden Retriever Rocking Dog, $499


The Weathered Barn, Cary
Raised by three generations of furniture makers, Scott McInerny grew up tinkering with wood. After purchasing property in Zebulon with his wife, Angeline, that housed an old tobacco barn, the McInernys discovered their passion for reclaiming part of North Carolina’s history. The McInernys found that wood in old tobacco barns takes on a unique reddish color, a result of the tobacco curing process, that can’t be replicated by staining. They deconstructed their barn and used the materials to create custom furniture and gifts — the planks became tables, the tobacco laths became decorative stars and the tier poles became log candles. The McInernys seek out wood from N.C. barns, like theirs, that cannot be preserved any longer and work out of their home, crafting one piece at a time. Log Candles, $35 (for set of three)


Cephalopod Ink Ceramics, Fuquay-Varina
Originally trained in the art of photography, Tanya Casteel found a passion for clay while working as an assistant to a potter in Maine, where she attended college at the Maine College of Art. Casteel moved to Fuquay-Varina after completing a master’s degree and became a full time ceramic artist. Casteel’s aquatic-themed creations begin as white stoneware. Casteel makes her own glazes and fires her pottery to cone 6 (a measurement of heat and time in the kiln). Casteel also hand applies her own decals, made from personal drawings or scientific sketches from the 1800s. In 2011, Casteel was recognized as a Regional Emerging Artist-in-Residence at Artspace in Raleigh. Angelfish Bubble Mug, $36


Van Duyn Woodwork, Raleigh
Jason Van Duyn can tell you where the trees used for each of his turned wood forms came from. The hollow form featured here started as a fallen tree near Prestonwood golf course. The type of wood, climate in which the tree is grown and the pests or diseases plaguing it all affect the appearance of the final vessel. Practicing all aspects of woodworking (furniture building, construction, etc.) for the last 10 years, Van Duyn specialized in wood turning during the last four. He uses salvaged and reclaimed wood primarily found in dying trees or felled by storms. He spends the bulk of his work time on each piece’s finish, applying layers of lacquer for a glossy sheen or rubbing in natural oils for a food-safe coating. Red Maple Hollow Form, $480


LITdecor, Cary
Each Mason jar lantern and candle holder in this Etsy shop is painstakingly hand painted by artist Vanessa Cline. Inspired by patterns found in Moraccan and henna designs and antique lace, Cline first paints the jars with glass paint in vibrant hues. Next she applies details by squeezing paint through a fine point bottle. After baking the lanterns at a high temperature, the finish hardens and sets, and the lanterns are weatherproof for use outdoors. Formally trained in industrial design at N.C. Sate, Cline stared painting the lanterns as a hobby and opened her Etsy shop to an incredible response. Mason Jar Lanterns, $24 each


Rushingwater Studios by Christine MacLellan, Cary
Artist Christine MacLellan works in many mediums — oil, pencil, pastels, charcoal and digital art are among them. Her style emphasizes deep tones and compositional balance and she finds inspiration from her family and traveling. MacLellan’s digital paintings, created with a tablet and stylus, combine her knowledge of classical techniques with modern technology. MacLellan also offers fine art instruction in a Montessori class style for children and adults. Participants of all skill levels can learn traditional mediums at their own pace in a fun environment. Daisies and Tulips Digital Painting, $65


Amy’s Creative Corner, Cary
Artist Amy Yeager painted her first dog portrait for a mural in her sister’s nursery. Her own dog Mya, half Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, half Chihuahua, followed and her love for painting family pets ignited. Yeager graduated from Peace College in Raleigh with a degree in graphic design. She developed her own style of pet portraits that she calls “playfully realistic.” Working from a photograph, Yeager first spray paints the vibrant background colors then brushes on the pet’s likeness. Yeager finds great gratification in her pet portraits, knowing that she is making a lasting gift the family will truly cherish. She also offers stationery, magnets, wall art and custom gifts in her Etsy shop. Custom Pet Portrait, $90


Laura Azzi Fine Arts, Raleigh
Her painting talent is readily apparent, but Laura Azzi’s skills as a teacher are broad as well. Azzi hosts workshops and teaches watercolor classes at N.C. State and Wake Tech and through Raleigh Parks and Recreation — beginners are always welcome. You can find her demonstrating painting or hosting workshops at the Midtown Farmers Market on Saturdays from April to October. Azzi specializes in watercolor, pen and ink works of landscapes, flowers and animals. She recently expanded her commissions to include house and pet portraits. Her paintings, though simple in style, have many layers of color and detail that produce rich, moody scenes. Crashing Waves, $40


Krafty Evolution Studio, Durham
Arlie Harris taught herself to paint as a child, and has expanded her artistic skills to other media in what she refers to as a “krafty evolution” ever since. With three degrees from N.C. State and a background in education, she devoted herself full-time to her artistic hobby upon the birth of her first child in 2010. Harris is known for her bright color palette and produces vibrant renditions of local skylines, landscapes, and other pieces inspired by her travels through North Carolina, Europe and Latin America. She also teaches workshops from painting to jewelry making and needlework at her Durham studio, along with commissioning works. Raleigh Skyline Print, $150


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