Most people hit the beach for fun.

For Jon Thompson and Karla Mikkelson, it's business, as that's where they find many of the materials Thompson uses in the jewelry he makes under the brand name JT Maui Jewelry, such as beach glass, driftwood and coconut.

"When I walk around the beach, I'm usually filling my pockets," he said.

JT Maui jewelry will be on this year's Art DeTour, a tour of a dozen artist's studios and 22 artists in Douglas and Otter Tail counties, which runs Friday-Saturday, June 18-19, from 9 a.m.-7 p.m., and many sites also open from noon-5 p.m. on Sunday. It's a restart of sorts for the tour, which began in 2019 and saw its second annual show canceled last year because of the pandemic. It's modeled after the Art of the Lakes Studio Tour, which also features artists in Douglas and Otter Tail counties, and which takes place in July.

This year's tour includes several new artists, but has also seen some artists drop off.

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“Some people were not able to focus on their art during the pandemic,” said Mimi Seykora, one of the organizers and also an artist on the tour. “Some people didn’t have the inventory or didn’t think they could get ready.”

She expects that those artists will want to return in 2022.

“It is definitely growing," she said. "What we’re hoping to do is keep the number of locations but increase the number of artists, so we’re not sprawled all over Douglas and Otter Tail county, and so you can get it done in one day.”

JT Maui Jewelry will set up at Seykora's studio this year, where Thompson will demonstrate jewelry making throughout the tour.

His business name comes from the 15 years he spent on the island of Maui, where he made necklaces for himself from coconut hulls when he wasn't managing hotels.

Originally from Excelsior, Minnesota, he moved back to Minnesota after reconnecting with Mikkelson, a college girlfriend. He waited tables in Alexandria and made jewelry on the side, and several years ago convinced her that with her graphic design and marketing experience, and his jewelry-making skills, they could develop a business that would support both of them.

They set up an online shop on Etsy, where jewelry and jewelry-making supplies are top sellers, and where they learned a couple of years ago that they are now in the top 1% of Etsy sellers. The business has supported both of them since 2016.

Thompson includes semi-precious stones like lapis lazuli, amethysts, turquoise and peridot. You'll also find lava beads, a porous material that wearers infuse with essential oils of their choice. People also send him their own objects to turn into jewelry or keychains: shell casings from a 21-gun-salute from a veteran's funeral, for instance, or old coins that he suspends from a delicate web of copper.



JT Maui's creations includes turning spent shell casings into one-of-a-kind gifts. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)
JT Maui's creations includes turning spent shell casings into one-of-a-kind gifts. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)



Their Etsy sales made up for what they lost in doing shows, and they have discovered they can scale back on those shows. They used to do 22 shows a year, but now are doing eight or nine of their favorites shows, of which the Art DeTour is one.

List of studio locations and artists:

1. 45671 348th St. in Ottertail. Clayhouse Pottery, with Sandra Shaughnessy's functional and food-safe pottery high-fired in a soda kiln in unique forms.

2. 35059 Boys Shore Trail in Ottertail. Arthouse, with Shirlee Daulton's woodcuts, handmade paper from plants, fish prints, clay, paintings, fiber arts and unusual jewelry.

3. 46730 County Highway 54 in Ottertail. Pine Mill Farm Furniture, with Sharon and Roger Krause's custom-built, solid wood, lacquer-finished furniture.

4. 32586 Island Road in Battle Lake. Pomme de Terre Pottery, with Sean Scott's hand-built functional and decorative stoneware pottery.

5. 16570 County Road 64 NE in Miltona (Location not open Sunday.)

  • JD Johnson Creative Services, with surf-inspired art including resin, acrylic, oil, mixed media, and photography
  • Katherine Bockelmann Fine Arts, with portraits and drawings of nature in graphite and charcoal.

6. 13694 E. Lake Miltona Dr. NE in Miltona

  • Art by Melissa, with Melissa Werpy's wheel-thrown and hand-built pottery with colorful imagery; and pastel, acrylic, oil paintings.
  • Steve King, stained glass art and functional pieces.

7. 2117 Ironwood Dr. in Alexandria

  • Pottersmith’s, with Kate Smith’s beautiful, durable, food-safe porcelain and stoneware and Phil Smith's whimsical, functional pottery.
  • Barbara Johnson, with wildlife, nature, and travel photography; prints and functional items.

8. 4255 County Road 11 NE in Alexandria

  • Chanda Kraft Art & Design, with paintings in oil or watercolor and drawings of landscapes and nature. Also includes children's activities.
  • Wolf Run Pottery, with Emily Wolf's hand-built or wheel-thrown functional pottery with dipped glazes.

9. 101 Three Havens Drive NE in Alexandria (location not open Sunday.)

  • Three Havens Artworks, with Linda Gaugert's oil, acrylic, watercolor, and mixed media.
  • Busy Squirrel Creations, with Matt Bakke's woodwork including turned bowls, art pieces, and wooden games.
  • Donna Dean's watercolor, multimedia collage, clay, silk scarves, and seed bead jewelry.

10. Not available this year.

11. 11076 Twilight Trail NW in Garfield (location not open Sunday.) Cane Toad Studio, with Leanne Larson's original oil paintings, live wedding day paintings done on site.

12. 316 Nokomis St. in Alexandria (location not open Sunday.) Handcrafted by Noni, with Naomi Bjorklund's oil portrait, landscape, and floral paintings. Handmade enamel jewelry.

13. 4365 County Road 82 NW in Alexandria

  • Turning Lake Designs, with Bill Seykora's wood turned bowls, colored pencil Lazy Susans, and charcuterie boards, and Merodie (Mimi) Seykora's stoneware, Raku pottery, and jewelry.
  • Song of Ruth, with Ruth Hanson's watercolor batik, watercolor and gouache, oil pastel, acrylic, and calligraphy.
  • JT Maui Designs, with Jon Thompson's jewelry with hammered metals, precious gemstones, and found objects.