Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Old Bag Factory

Elkhart, IN   High: 74   Low: 44

Sparky went to a very special place yesterday while Eldo got some chiropractic care from his trusted doctor in Goshen. The name of this very special place is The Old Bag Factory located in Goshen, IN. It's an historic place, a factory built in 1896. It's kind of like a cross between a vintage shopping center and an artists' colony. It has a ton of history behind it AND it is an official site of the Northern Indiana Quilt Gardens along the Heritage Trail. This Goshen plant used to be one of the largest and most important factories owned by the Chicago Detroit Bag Company.

It's got beaucoup charm and atmosphere....It's cozy, it has a unique layout and architectural details to it, it's a wonderful place to walk around and visit...There are a wide variety of interesting shops and artists' studios there....Breads and chocolates, jewelry, vintage boutiques, heirloom furniture restoration, galleries, a cake shop, working artists' studios, sculpture, cafes and pottery....Sparky didn't visit all of these shops today, she ran out of time. She made it to two of them....Two very special ones....Goertzen Pottery and Shirley Shenk Quilt Designs.....

Goertzen Pottery has WONDERFUL functional pottery/cermaic items---bowls, soap dispensers, vases, all kinds of beautiful pieces of art for your home at very affordable prices....Sparky LOVED the colors......The studio and workroom were light and airy, and the sunshine pouring in through the windows just made it a creative, happy place. The studio was a warm and inviting place, and the people working there were lovely people to talk to.

One of the artists, Moshe Hodges, was there throwing an extra large mug in a series of them for the local NPR radio station.

From there, Sparky decided to check out the log cabin on the Old Bag Factory site, the home of Shirley Shenk's unusual and award winning one-of-a-kind quilts. The sign on the door says NO PHOTOS. The signs inside the shop say, NO PHOTOS. It's the kind of place when you walk in, even if you are not a quilter, you say, WOW!

And you understand WHY they don't want you to take photos. Shirley's designs are a fantastic modern take on quilting. She's a FIBER artist. Her patterns are not your classic wedding ring, log cabin quilt patterns.  If her designs were shown on quilt magazine covers or in articles about her, in a matter of time, cheap imitations from abroad would flood the market. No siree, not happening! Sparky put away her camera. But here's the great thing...A nice gentleman met me at the door and he started asking a few questions after I asked him if he had literature I could take back with me to mention Shirley's quilts on my blog.  What kind of blog was it? I told him it was a travel blog about our RV travels and  about "off the beaten path" places that we love to visit. It turns out that the nice gentleman was Shirley's husband and once he felt that Sparky was an honest "reporter" of the cool and noteworthy places RVers would love to see and visit, he gave me a great tour of the cabin, of Shirley's studio and proceeded to let me take a photo of the quilt garden from Shirley's studio window and a couple more photos. Thank you!
Shirley's studio  supports other fiber artists as well, so there are unique cards, gifts and fiber sculptures inside to marvel over. "Grandma" is a soft sculpture. I'm sorry I don't remember the name of the person who does these sculptures.

One last thing about Shirley Shenk's quilts....They have security "watermark" stitching built into every quilt. If someone were to steal one of her quilts and attempt to sell it by cutting off the copyrighted name tag, Shirley's initials and the name of the Amish stitcher who completed the quilt stitching are embedded in the quilt somewhere in one of the quadrants. It really opened Sparky's eyes to how difficult it is for crafters and artists to make a living without having their ideas stolen and copied right and left.

If you get a chance, check out the Old Bag Factory in Goshen, IN, on 1100 North Chicago Ave. It's a wonderful place to spend a day!

By the time Sparky got done with the quilt tour and pottery, Eldy was back from the chiropractor, almost as good as new! Got lots going on in the next few days.....Check back in and visit with us!


  1. What a lovely place! Very nice of them to let you take a few pictures to share with us.

  2. Sounds like a great place to explore, thanks for the recommendation.

  3. I love places like that! It sure is tempting to overload us with some of those pretty things though :)

  4. Sounds like my kind of place! I would have to drop Bob off at a sports or history museum of some kind, so I could go at my own pace!

    Good blog!


  5. Oh, I just love, love, love pottery. . .I'm entranced by it. . .but of course you know, it's just not RV friendly. . .sad!

    The gift shop where we worked in West Yellowstone carried handmade pottery. . .we resisted as long as we could, but just could NOT resist each having a hand warmer coffee mug. . .so much fun!

    I loved your shopping, or maybe just browsing trip. . .thanks for sharing!


  6. We have several quilts that Shirley designed.commemerating special occassions: weddings, anniversaries, birth etc. It is so fun and unique to be a part of her design process, from picking out the designs, individual fabric selection, stitching dates, names, etc into the quilts. The quality and uniqueness can never be duplicated. With my Mother now passed I have the wonderful memories of the building process and relish them everyday as they are displayed through out our home