BRATTLEBORO -- There is a building in town that houses it all.
From ceramics to circus arts, the rooms of the Cotton Mill are where groups from various industries keep an address and also keep busy.
"It's a great community," said cosmetic chemist Sherilee Blackman, from Venus of Vermont. "There's a lot of camaraderie."
On Dec. 7 and 8, the Cotton Mill is hosting its 15th annual open studio and holiday sale. It will feature 50 artists and artisans. The hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
There will be displays featuring woodworking, glass art, books, ceramics, bodywork, clothing, dance, photography, painting, music, jams, food, film, jewelry, sculpture, furniture, and more.
The open studio allows all those who rent a space in the building to showcase their business to the public.
Rachelle Ackerman, a massage therapist who works out of the Cotton Mill, spoke of the open studio as a unique event.
"Most of the year, we're all working individually behind our closed doors, doing our own things," she said. "This brings us together as a real community and makes me feel connected to my fellow tenants. We have a bunch of really cool and talented people."
The open house will feature video presentations from the Center of Digital Arts as well as performances from the Open Music Collective, Vermont Jazz Center, SoBo Dance and Movement Center and New England Center for Circus Arts. There will be demonstrations from Venus of Vermont, Karicature King and Stephen Procter Ceramics.
Throughout the three floors, others taking part in the event include True North Granola, Just Pies, Owl Food, Big Picture Farm, Ray Ruseckas, Entera, Michael Poster, Zoe Poster, Sidehill Farm, Laughing Lizard Studio, Melinda LaBarge, Nonesuch Garden, Lisa Flanders Studio, Sunmeadow Alpacas, Peter Deyo Custom Picture Framing, Marble Meadows, Robb Family Farm, Oak Meadow, Heartfelt Vermont and more.
"You would never know all that goes on in this building just passing by," said Ackerman.
This will be the first year that the open studio event was open to vendors who are not tenants in the building.
"There's a lot more going in town and even behind the walls of the Cotton Mill than people generally recognize," said Blackman. "This event is an opportunity to see what that's all about and how fun it is."
Her company develops and manufactures personal care and cosmetic products. It also assists with developing formulations for other companies.
"Because of our unique position, we develop products with highly effective cutting edge technologies and materials that multinationals haven't yet included in their high end lines, but will in a few years," said Blackman. "And we also have the advantage of not passing on the costs incurred by multinationals to consumers."
A material currently being used by Venus of Vermont is "culled from celery meristematic cells," which Blackman said are similar to stem cells found in animals and can be used for improving skin complexion.
"It always amazes me to think this is happening in Brattleboro," said Blackman. "And not in a major hub of cosmetic product development."
She encourages people to come to the open studio and try out an eye area cream and facial mist that uses this material.
Blackman referred to the Cotton Mill as "one of the friendliest, most positive business collectives" she had ever seen.
"I used to work in lots of corporate situations where you'd have your clique of friends. Here, everyone kind of functions as this big organism that's the Cotton Mill. There's a lot of networking, a lot of friendships and good spirited friendliness. Everyone is very, very supportive," she said.
For more information, visit www.TheCottonMill.org.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.