December Second Saturday Artwalk - December 10th
- stories by Grace Birch, photographs by Ellis Anderson
Over the past 20 years, the monthly Artwalk has become one of the most popular events in the region. Old Town stays lively all day, with many merchants and restaurants offering specials. The pace picks up from 4–8 p.m., when gallery openings and live music keep the streets humming with activity.
Each month, one or two Old Town businesses take the spotlight as “Hot Spots." Veteran Second Saturday patrons know these will be among the liveliest places to be during the event.
Hot Spots in December are Serious Bread (131 Main Street) and Full Moon Clockworks (131 Railroad Avenue).
Second Saturday column
Serious Bread Bakery
131 Main Street, Suite D
Bay St. Louis
He filled the empty suitcase with San Francisco sourdough bread. When the bread ran out, his sister-in-law Susan would send more sourdoughs.
“One day my San Diego sister was tired of sending the San Francisco sourdough, so she sent a recipe and a note that said, ‘You need to start making your own bread,’” smiled Vivian Jensen, Al’s wife.
So began a journey to learn about the lost art of bread making. Al enrolled in a class in King Arthur Flour, following it up with a more intensive training on sourdoughs. Workshops in Colorado and New York honed their skills for making bread starters and perfecting bagels.
“I kept saying we need to name the bread,” Vivian said. “And it was easy because we used to put a morsel in people’s mouth and say, ‘You have to try this, it’s serious bread.’”
The first thing one notices about Serious Bread’s artisanal loaves is that the tastes and textures are different from store bought brands.
“The health aspect is important to us,” Vivian said. “Most breads you find today are laden with sugar and lots of yeast to make it rise faster. The amount of sugar and salt in our bread is very low and it keeps for four to five days with no preservatives, especially the rye.”
Serious Bread's goods are made from scratch with lots of hand-kneading. Italian and French techniques — biga and poolish — start the bread. The Jensens also soak their grains so that the vitamins and minerals stay locked in. This takes 8-12 hours.
“There are no shortcuts to good bread,” Vivian said. “I recently read a study that soaking the grain is comparative to sprouting the grain — that increased iron absorption goes up over 1000 percent. You would have to eat more than 12 slices of regular bread to compare to the nutrients in one slice of our bread.”
No need to worry over smooshed bread when carting home a loaf. Serious Bread pops right back up when pressed down, another sign of the quality.
“Because of the time that we take with our bread it tastes better, lasts longer, much healthier,” Al said. “We are always experimenting with our bread. In fact, we had a class recently on how to make a sweet rye. It’s such a good tasting bread that my wife and I argued who was going to eat the last piece.”
Costumers will always find new breads on display at Serious Bread. Harvest Sourdough is another recent addition featuring cranberries, raisins and walnuts.
“A lot of breads taste great with butter and jam, but the Harvest tastes better with a sharp cheese,” Al said.
The Jensens find customers really appreciate information on how to care for their bread. Artisanal bread is a bit more than bread found at big chain stores, but if kept right will last much longer than anything produced commercially.
“I tell them to slice it, freeze it in the bag, then pull out what you need in the morning,” said Vivian. “There’s something about the frozen slice going into the toaster that awakens the taste, and that’s what we want for our customers.”
Serious Bread also has serious sweet treats. Cookies, muffins, scones and more are some of the items people rave about.
Bakers Rosie and Kandace keep coming up with new things, like their new energy bars with 10 different grains, seeds, coconuts and dates.
On Second Saturday, December 10, Rosie and Kandace will show off a different skill: both are talented musicians. Rosie will play the flute and Kandace the clarinet after a set from Kay Sones’ family band, which will feature Christmas songs and old-time favorites starting in front of the bakery at 4 p.m.
After 10 years of finding their new passion, the Jensens are thriving and say they owe so much of Serious Bread's success to their talented, dedicated staff. They love serving customers who are serious about good bread!
Full Moon Clockworks
301 Railroad Ave.
Bay St. Louis, MS
Walking through the front door of Full Moon Clockworks, it’s clear Terry Downs has a passion for timepieces. Clocks of every shape, size and age adorn the walls and cover her workbench.
“My love of clocks started when I was looking for a job,” Downs said. “It’s just as simple as that. I was 30 years old and a homemaker looking for a career. It was a turning point in my life.”
She stepped into Stan Good Clocks in Tampa Florida looking for work. Downs had a bit of experience refinishing furniture, but Good already had someone doing casing work.
He offered her an apprenticeship and from there a new career — master clockmaker — was born.
“I apprenticed for two years in the shop every day, and they could see my curiosity,” Downs said. “One of the clockmakers was retiring and Stan offered me a position.”
Downs was the only woman clockmaker in the shop and to this day she finds very few female colleagues in her field.
In the early 2000s, Downs relocated to New Orleans where her husband, Neil Gauthier, was. She knew she wanted to open a shop of her own, but didn’t feel like the big city was the right fit.
“We knew Ellis Anderson and she encouraged us to come visit the Bay more and more,” Downs said. “We saw the evolution of the Second Saturdays and really felt at home here.”
In a town full of antiques, Downs has no shortage of work. She makes house calls to work on grandfather clocks and takes appointments at her studio for clients to bring in their broken tickers.
Her favorite clocks? Down favors French timepieces. “I like the way the French build their clocks,” she said. “They are really quality pieces.”
A unique clock, an oeil-de-boeuf, overlooks Downs’s workbench and literally doubles as an art piece. The French clock features a beautiful painting that would look at home in a major museum.
Downs prefers to work on antique clocks, but sees all types of clocks in her line of work. She also only works on clocks, not wristwatches.
“Watches are different,” she explains. “The tools are different. With watches you buy a part to replace, and with clocks you are making the replacement parts.”
Modern technologies and mindsets seem to be taking the place of wristwatches and wall clocks. Downs has met millennial children who don’t know how to tell time with a clock face.
“American clockmakers are dying off in droves,” she said. “I’m a young clockmaker and I’m 65.”
Downs agrees there will always be a place for nostalgic things, but the industry is not sustainable.
“A young person could not support a family being a clockmaker, and I think that young people’s minds gravitate to something more technical,” she said.
In Bay St. Louis, Downs has certainly found a community that appreciates history and though Full Moon Clockworks she keeps the heartbeat of that history ticking along.