Walnut Ink Studios Brings the Power of Arts Networking into Michigan City


US Route 421 is a main drive through Michigan City Indiana, passing through Cool Springs Township as it descends into the city. The Calumet River also makes this descent. Route 421 transforms into Franklin Street and passes through a collection of buildings, some from the days of the carriage trade. It is an old part of an old city on an ancient lake. Cruising for a cup of coffee, breakfast, and a slice of life, I noticed the street sign and the open door for Walnut Ink Projects. I walked in, and Walnut Ink began making an indelible mark on my memories.

Charles Grohs and Nicole Sheaffer are the resident curators. Grohs, founder of Terrawood Design Company, bought the building ten years ago and began reclaiming the raw space, furnishing the floor with gymnasium floorboards reclaimed from a school in Hammond. Here he practices transforming walnut logs into tables and home furnishings, bringing the valuable wood into a high finish while retaining the natural curvatures of the logs, making for interesting tables for gathering family and friends. There’s hardly a conventional corner. He also transforms walnut into decks for skateboards, and skateboards become canvases at Walnut Ink (see Mares’ design below). Currently on exhibit, Mares & Jimenez, includes Chicago-area artists Javier Jimenez and Liz Mares.

Mares demonstrated her colorful and angular art on one of the facility’s decks. Mares’ similarity to to the colors and angles of Grand Rapid’s artist, Keemo, is astounding. Mares’ colorful angles are more constrained than Keemo’s. However, her angles routinely jut out into imaginary space as one views.

Liz Mares design on NBK Sycamore Board by Chris Grohs of Terra Wood Design Co.

Liz Mares design on NBK Sycamore Board by Chris Grohs of Terra Wood Design Co.

Kids come to Walnut Ink and make their own skateboards!

Nicole Sheaffer handles the mercantile side of the operation, which includes cold brewed coffee from Keweenaw Coffee Works, hardwood functional objects, and limited edition prints. She has taken up the challenge of the Relay for Life and has begun making hundreds of cranes, purple folded wonders she gives to any visitor who wishes to take one along. Much of the collaboration at Walnut Ink occurs within the space created by Sheaffer’s remarkable listening skills.

-Will Juntunen

Liz Mares,

Liz Mares, “Wrap it Up, I’ll Take It”, mixed-media on birch panel

Walnut Ink Projects
607 Franklin St., Michigan City, IN 46360

Wednesday & Thursday  11AM-4PM
Friday 11AM-5PM
Saturday 10AM-2PM
(closed Sunday-Tuesday)

One Response to “Walnut Ink Studios Brings the Power of Arts Networking into Michigan City”
  1. It was an absolute pleasure having an opportunity to meet such a radiant being. Thank you Will Juntunen.

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