Generations of craftsmanship coalesce at Frogtowne Artisan Creations

The Macy men of Frogtowne (L to R) Dale Macy, Colin Macy, and Chris Macy. Photo by Carol Quaintance/Tri County Record

Colin Macy, 28, proprietor of Frogtowne Artisan Creations, along with his father, Brad Macy and uncle Chris Macy, are living out their family legacy and vision at Frogtowne Gallery, 1990 Ridge Road, Pottstown, PA.

Artisans are skilled manual workers who make functional and decorative items. While engaging their hands in their craft, their minds and hearts are expressed through their experience and unique talent. The work of their inward vision is poured out into reality.

The Macy family has been local to the Pottstown and St. Peters area for generations. Their heritage was formed in the early 1960s in Pottstown.

Colin said, “My grandparents, Bill and Ellen Macy had come to Pottstown for my grandfather to find work. My grandfather took a job at Firestone, Inc. and they bought a post World War I home at 5th and Johnson Sts. in the city. The home needed work and my grandmother tackled the restoration and repair of the house from the floor up.”

His father, Brad, chimed in, “I remember those days. Working side by side with my mother, we sanded, refinished and shellacked the wood floors, the woodwork and columns of the house. We would go to the paint store and get the primer, the paint, and spackle. My mother dug in, learning as she went. After the bones of the house were all fixed up she began refinishing and building furniture. How she loved our creation. I caught her spirit and vision and honed my talents through experience.”

Woodworking it seems was an instinctive gift that became a passion with the Macy men. Colin’s dad, Brad, a professional land developer, went on to convert an old barn on St. Peter’s Rd. into a wood shop. Once again the sons worked beside the parent, learning to restore furniture, make commissioned pieces, and use the tools of the trade as the sawdust and craftsmanship seeped deeper into the son’s being.

Colin explained, “I went away to engineering school. I knew I loved working with my hands and thought mechanical engineering would fulfill my need to design and create.”

Yet – applying variety to an old adage here – he found that while you can take the boy out of the woodshop, you can’t take the woodshop out of the boy.

“It wasn’t long before I realized this wasn’t my path and I traveled to Portland, Oregon, where I obtained my B. A. in Fine Arts in Crafts at Oregon College of Arts and Crafts with a concentration in Woodworking and an elective in Ceramics.”

He came home to Pennsylvania with a vision to open a gallery for his work and the work of local artisans and skilled craftsmen. It was not long before his father Dale and his dad’s brother Chris Macy set out to find the perfect location. They wanted a place where the local artisans could come together and share their designs with the ‘locals’ and those making up the heavy tourist trade. A great spot was found across from St. Peters Village in what was known as Frogtowne. Hence the name. Are you puzzled by the history of the name? Is it legend, folklore or history? Which story will you choose to believe?

This area is steeped in history. Heavily deposited with iron, it was the home of many of the original ironmasters who supplied the Conferential Army during the American Revolution. These woods and creeks were the places where Mordaci Lincoln father of Abraham Lincoln, Frontiersman Daniel Boone and many settlers came through the port of Philadelphia with William Penn leading the charge for religious freedom and a new world. Obviously French Creek and the surrounding area got its name from French settlers. But what does that have to do with Frogtowne? And therein lays the mystery.

In 800 A. D. on Christmas Day, Charlemagne was coroneted by the Pope in St. Peters Basilica as the emperor of the Roman Empire. This made him the head of the empire which spread from Italy to Britain, including Spain and France. And so he became the King of the Franks (French). And so as the story goes, it was he who in translating a French word came to call those countrymen Frogs. It was also said that the kingdom’s flag had the emblems of frogs upon it, which magically changed into the beautiful fleur-de- lies as we know it today.

Another theory has it that the French coming from a land which was very swampy (much like our American Frogtowne) it was a great breeding place for Frogs. Frog legs are a great favorite and delicacy for the French, so we are what we eat~ frogs? To this day the ‘locals’ close down a road when the thousands of tadpoles become frogs and must have safe passage across the road.

The myths add mystique to the Gallery which offers up the talents and stories told through the artisan wares and crafts.

Colin said, “I first started doing my own woodworking and friends and family joined me. It wasn’t long before I had 40 artists booked for the Gallery.”

At Frogtowne Artisan Creations you will find a collection, of exquisite woodworking including cradles and benches, art, prints, custom made jewelry, glass ware, homemade soaps and ointments, rag dolls, and so much more. The talent is diverse, trained and unique. You can find on their website www.frogtowne.com a list of the artists, their training and specialties.

One interesting artist is Ilse-An Munzinger, of St. Peters Village. Here is a bit about Isle An’s background, according to Frogtowne.com’s artist bio:

Ilse’s mother was Anna Knauer and grandfather David Knauer. She grew up in Pennsylvania and then lived for 35 years in Munich, Germany. Ilse, at the age of nine, started her art education every Saturday at the Fleischer Art Memorial Center in Philadelphia. She graduated from Philadelphia College of Art after four years in illustration. She then went to Europe and studied for two years at the Munich Academy of Art. A decorated Plein Aire painter, she enjoys painting the boulders of the Falls of French Creek, however her specialty is portrait painting. Her beautiful prints of the buildings and scapes are available at the gallery.

Chris Macy, the brother of Brad, is also an artist and the promoter for the business. He recently announced on their website that Frogtowne is offering hand-crafted items from Camphill Village Kimberton Hills.

Camphill Village is a vibrant farming and handcrafting community that includes adults with developmental disabilities. Located on 432 acres of farm, gardens and woodlands in Chester County, Pennsylvania, Kimberton Hills is also a local center for culture and a model for sound ecological living.

Craft work fits naturally into life at Kimberton Hills, and items from their Weavery, Pottery and Wood Shop are hand-crafted with love and care. Items available from Camphill include Woven Clothing Accessories, Fleece Rugs, Placemats/Napkins, Stuffed Toys and much more!”

As the seasons change the gallery comes alive with the décor and gifts for the discriminating and casual customer. Also available is the opportunity for commissioned pieces to be made to your taste. Valentine’s Day approaches.

Frogtown Artisan Creations is located at 1990 Ridge Road in Pottstown, Pa 19465. Phone them at (484) 985-9835 or email them at info@frogtowne.com to find out more. Store Hours are Fridays 11am - 7pm, Saturdays 11am - 7pm, and Sundays 11am - 7pm.