WRITER | CANDIE CONAT
PHOTO | LEDGE CRAFT LANE
Located in a firehouse that dates back to 1885, Ledge Craft Lane has provided an artist venue in the historic Grand Ledge community since 1975. In 1974, when founder Marilyn Smith and her friends held their first (and very successful) Island Art Fair on the island in the middle of the Grand River, they longed for a place where this new not-for-profit collective could hold an art fair year-round. Upon learning that the historic firehouse was available, they took the leap, and renovations began. Nearly 50 years later, Ledge Craft Lane is still serving their community. Now under the direction of Stephene Lapp, both Ledge Craft Lane and the annual Island Art Fair are still going strong.
Ledge Craft Lane is an artisans nonprofit that includes over 50 local juried artists. Taking the time to meet each vendor to see what they create allows Ledge Craft Lane to ensure that what they offer is unique and in tune with what they know their visitors will enjoy. The unrivaled collective of artisans covers every imaginable medium. From textiles, wood, metal, pottery, or written words on a page, be it decorative, fashionable, or functional, nearly every item at Ledge Craft Lane is handmade or has a handmade element to it.
Some of the more unusual items you may find include “fractured” wood designs, where the artist uses electricity to create one-of-a-kind lightning-like patterns in wood. Another makes amazing walking sticks, perhaps for a hike on the world-famous ledge trails along the Grand River. Still another fabricates breathtaking wooden bowls, tumblers, salt and pepper shakers, and the like on his lathe. Ledge Craft Lane also carries books by over 30 Michigan authors, ranging from stories for children and teens to Michigan murder mysteries for an older audience.
Lapp herself is also an artist. She creates all sorts of imaginative creatures from rubber bands. She has sold hundreds of them in the store over the past several years, and they are a huge hit with children. She also specializes in military silhouettes with her alcohol ink and resin art.
“I love that our store is ever-changing, full of so much creativity and items made with love. We might have two or three artisans who work with clay, but each does something different, putting their own artistic touch on each item,” says Lapp.
The artists at Ledge Craft Lane truly have everyone covered. There is an 18-year-old vendor who will make you the coolest hot dog earrings around, but the inventory also includes some of the most elegant jewelry, perfect for your next special occasion.
While visiting Ledge Craft Lane, you can take in a bit of history as well. Keep an eye out for “The Ghost of Fireman’s Hall” as you visit the town’s only jail cell that dates back to the early 1900s when City Hall and the Constable’s office were added to the fire hall.
Lapp’s personal mission is to continue Marilyn Smith’s legacy and ensure that Ledge Craft Lane is around for future generations. For her, it’s all about keeping the arts alive and helping a new generation learn to create with their own hands, to express themselves through whatever form of art that makes them come alive.
Check the website to learn about upcoming events, including kids classes, art workshops, and painting parties.
Ledge Craft Lane
120 S. Bridge Street
Grand Ledge MI 48837
(517) 627-9843 l LedgeCraftLane.com