Janelle Slone of Pleasant Lake sits with her completed Arts in the Parks creation at the Relic Emporium in Angola. The recycle bin project included about 50 people of all ages and will be set at the boat launch area at Chain O’ Lakes State Park. Staff photo by Amy Obelin
Janelle Slone of Pleasant Lake sits with her completed Arts in the Parks creation at the Relic Emporium in Angola. The recycle bin project included about 50 people of all ages and will be set at the boat launch area at Chain O’ Lakes State Park. Staff photo by Amy Obelin
ALBION — A new amenity at Chain O'Lakes State Park was a collaborative artistic effort meant to encourage good environmental stewardship.

This summer, Janelle Slone of Angola’s Relic Emporium hosted a project at Chain O’ Lakes, allowing people of all ages to work with clay. Made possible by a grant from the Indiana Arts Commission, clay figures of wildlife like fish and dragonflies were fired and painted then painstakingly placed around a recycle bin.

Slone delivered the completed creation to Chain O’  Lakes on Wednesday.

Kaitlyn Sproles, interpretive naturalist at the park, said the final product exceeded her expectations.

“We definitely love it,” Sproles said. “A lot of people from the public got to make the critters.”

Workshops were held in June and August, allowing campers and park visitors to choose stencils provided by Slone and trace them onto clay. Using sculpting tools, their creations came to life.

“I personally had a lot of fun,” said Sproles, who made a monarch butterfly. Her husband, Michael, also got involved.

Slone said wife and husband Shannon and Brian King of Angola worked together on a large dragonfly.

“Everyone signed their piece with stamps,” Slone said.

Around 50 people of all ages contributed. After their clay figures were completed, Slone fired them in her kiln in Angola, painted them and fitted them to the circular waste can. She estimated that she put 100 hours into the project.

The recycle bin will be stored inside during the winter months, said Sproles, and set out at the boat launch in April.

“The idea is to keep the water clean,” said Slone, who has fond memories of the park from her childhood.

The Chain O’ Lakes’ automated telephone directory calls the park “a small boaters’ paradise in northeastern Indiana.” Situated on 2,718 acres in Noble County, it encompasses 11 lakes, eight of them connected in a chain.

When applying for a grant for Arts in the Parks and Historic Sites through the Indiana Arts Commission and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Slone said felt the recycling bin was a perfect fit for the Chain O’ Lakes boating area.

The Arts in the Parks program is designed to engage artists with the public through the natural beauty and rural settings of Indiana.

Slone said she anticipates applying for another Arts in the Parks grant.

“It’s worth it,” she said. “It serves a great purpose and it gets people involved.”

She said she’s received positive feedback from this year’s project.

Slone opened Relic Emporium in an early 1900s-era home at 713 N. Wayne St., Angola, earlier this year. The business provides a place where people can work with clay or do other artistic projects with instruction and encouragement from Slone, who has developed her talent over the past couple of decades, with a focus on tile and pottery. The shop is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and by appointment on Sundays.
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