Printmaker Mae Wilson displays her Japanese woodblock, a tool she uses when giving demos to the public during SLO County's 18th annual Open Studios Art Tour | Gina Randazzo/Mustang News

Saturday, Oct. 8 kicked off San Luis Obispo County’s Open Studios Art Tour, where local artists opened the doors of their creative spaces to the public. From Cambria to Santa Margarita, over 200 artists invited people to browse the studios —located throughout San Luis Obispo County — learning about each artist’s process and technique.

Among these artists is Crissa Hewitt, who has been making fine jewelry and boxes since she learned the craft in 1969. Hewitt taught jewelry design and 3-D sculpture at Cal Poly for 31 years.

Now retired, Hewitt is able work at her own pace, occasionally selling her work at the Gallery at the Network in downtown San Luis Obispo. Clients sometimes request commission work, but Hewitt said each of her pieces are one-of-a-kind.

This is Hewitt’s eighth year participating in Open Studios. The silversmith said she is flattered by the comments from the public and feels good showing people something they maybe haven’t seen before.

“It’s very rewarding,” Hewitt said. “People have been very generous with their comments and support. All of us enjoy having somebody think that something you’re doing is worthwhile.”

Printmaker Mae Wilson is also showcasing her work during her third year participating in Open Studios. Wilson offers demos to the public, showing them the intricate process of printmaking.

“It’s really fun. You get to ham it up,” Wilson said. “I like to do demos and show everyone how to do it, have someone turn the wheel.”

Wilson typically makes etchings, where she takes a sheet of metal, typically zinc, and scratches it to make the tiny details that will later hold ink. She then rubs ink into the metal and sets a piece of paper on it, running it through a printing press that transfers the ink to the paper.

This passion started when Wilson took her first vinyl cutting class when she was nine. She didn’t like it at all.

“So I said, ‘I’m going to master this and make it my own,’” Wilson said.

And that she did, now making a variety of prints, each uniquely crafted. Wilson said this year’s inspiration for her work has been based off food, mostly. Her displays boasted colorful designs with vegetables, bottle labels and ice cream.

SLO County’s Open Studios Art Tour will continue on Oct. 15 and 16. Studios are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Some pieces are available for purchase, but all tours are free to the public.

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