The Sperryville column for June 14

Coterie: artisans, creations and wares

The small building adjacent to the historic Sperryville Schoolhouse started its life as an elementary school and cafeteria and, in recent history, has been home to a number of retail enterprises. Starting this month, the upstairs of the Little Schoolhouse will open as a creative hub with both working studio spaces and a curated mix of new, handcrafted, vintage and “upcycled” items for sale.

“Coterie,” a French word meaning a small group of people joined together for a united purpose, is also the name of this creative collaboration of local artisans and entrepreneurs who’ve come together to promote out-of-the-ordinary design and fashion for the home, garden and personal lifestyle.

The skills and interests of managers Jen Perrot (Perrot Gardenscapes and Design) and Susan McCarthy (Cordelia & Co., design consultation) combine to showcase naturalistic designs and stylings for interiors, exteriors and events. Artists themselves, they place special emphasis on goods that are handcrafted and largely made or hand-finished in the U.S.

Studio occupants Patti Brennan and Virginia and Bill Watson will not only be selling their wares in the building, but creating them as well. Patti brings her stained glass creations, fused art pieces and a lampworking bench – creating beads from rods using a glass torch. Specialized clothing by the Watsons, owners of the Wolfstone Kilt and Potomac Leather companies, introduce an exciting line of custom-made clothing, as well as benchmade woodwork. Artist-in-residence Donna LaPre will offer her exquisite fiber sculptures and creations.

Starting in August, Coterie will feature “Pop Up Shops” with a different theme each month centered around a featured artist or a selection of limited availability unique products. Coterie will also soon take Sperryville retailing into the electronic age, incorporating into its web presence a “Look Book,” an online collection of inspirational photos featuring locally available items, artfully combined.

The building will be spruced up inside and out in time for Coterie’s planned June 23-24 opening weekend. Be sure to put this on your calendar, and discover yet another treasure in our community. Like the other businesses at the Schoolhouse, Coterie will be open Thursday-Monday (at 12018A Lee Hwy.). For more information, email

June birthdays

Many warm wishes to Dolly Atkins, who celebrates her birthday today (Thursday, June 14), Andy Thompson (June 13), Sheila Hoben (June 17) and to my husband, Ray Boc, who celebrates that 70th milestone birthday on Friday (June 15). Best wishes also to Donald and Denise Chandler and Nan Reddick for their June birthdays.

Swift Global: now local

Justin “Judd” Swift, founder and principal of Swift Global Results, has relocated his office from Alexandria to the Kramer Building in Washington. The consulting firm specializes in clean energy technology, focusing on carbon capture and storage (CCS) for the numerous industries (coal, cement, aluminum, steel, natural gas, oil refining, agriculture) that produce massive quantities of carbon dioxide. Judd is the former deputy assistant secretary for international affairs/fossil energy and scheduling and strategic initiatives director at the U.S. Department of Energy. His wife, Gail Swift, was our co-columnist until last year. For more information on Swift Global, call 703-863-4286 or email

A Book Club and more . . .

Bookish Babes is a book club of eight Rappahannock women who meet monthly to discuss a book chosen by the group. This is not unique and is the typical format for many book clubs in the county but I want to share something that they are doing that others may wish to replicate. At each meeting, each member donates a small amount of money to be contributed to an organization that supports reading. The Babes have settled on Head Start, and will soon donate $500 to help purchase a program that teaches parents how to read to their children, to promote literacy and a lifelong love of reading.

Just a bit more . . . book clubs can build trust and promote friendship and community. They can also be a lot of fun. The club had read “The Help” and went as a group to dinner and to see the movie. When they read Van Reid’s “Daniel Plainway,” that month’s host served apple pandowdy, the title of a chapter in the book.

Trust in the group was clear as members discussed poignant issues in “Plainsong” by Kent Haruf. They will share a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne to accompany the discussion of “The Widow Clicquot,” the biography of the amazing woman who founded that company. Perhaps they will share some Ethiopian food during the discussion of “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese? If there’s something interesting or useful about your book group that you’d like to share, do let me know and we will pass it on.