Whimsical to Practical
New store finds a roost
on Madison, Ind.'s Main Street
Cuckoos Roost features handmade items
from artisans locally and around the country
(December 2021) – Relatively new to Madison, Ind.’s Main Street is a cleverly named business called Cuckoos Roost. Owned and operated by Kathy Roy, who is originally from Mystic, Conn., the store highlights the creativity and craftsmanship of American artisans, and all of the items sold in the store are handmade.
Roy relocated to Madison from Naples, Fla. However, her background has taken her to many locations in pursuit of the arts. “I used to spend winters in Oaxaca, Mexico, watching the weavers and potters work. It was incredibly fascinating,” she said.
Roy spent time after that living in New Zealand on a sheep farm, where she was introduced to processing, spinning and naturally dying wool.
After that experience, she enrolled in a two-year master weaver’s school in Nelson, New Zealand. “Once I came back to the U.S., I lived in St Johnsbury, Vt., working and learning in a weaver’s studio. But my fate was to marry and have a family. Opening the store is a way for me to reconnect to the arts and the crafts I love,” she said.
Kathy Roy poses inside her Cuckoos Roost shop on Madison's Main Street. She has lived in many areas of the world gaining knowledge of the arts.
She came to Madison to be closer to family. “My daughter and her family live here in Madison and have a hobby horse farm, where they also raise goats and many other animals,” she said. “My two grandchildren were the real draw. I wanted to be close and part of their lives.”
When Roy previously came to Madison for visits, she often perused the Saturday Farmer’s Market at the Broadway Fountain. “Downtown Madison felt a lot like my hometown of Mystic and shared many similarities,” she said, noting the charming historic Main Street, riverfront, history of ship building and a diverse crew of friendly locals.
“I saw and felt the town was looking toward the future of new possibilities and renewal, and I really liked that energy.”
Roy moved to downtown Madison in January 2020. “As I took a good look around, met and talked to folks and visited the business, an idea started to formulate,” she said. She was enthralled by the variety of businesses Madison holds: stained glass, ironwork, painting, and unique architecture everywhere.
“I knew opening a gift store that represents American craftspeople and artisans was what I wanted to bring to Madison,” she said. Cuckoos Roost came to life and opened earlier this year in June at 133 E. Main St.
Roy described Cuckoos Roost as a “fanciful collection of contemporary American craft.” The shop features handmade jewelry, pottery, blown glass, woodcrafts, metalwork, sculptures and more. “We feature items from funky to traditional, whimsical to practical,” she said. All the items are handmade in America with an occasional Canadian artist.
Roy has created an environment for artists from around the country to share store space and sell their work. She chooses pieces carefully and in a way that honors creativity and the artistic process.
“When I choose items for the store, I ask them where it’s made. Is it fun? Does it spark joy and make you happy?” she said. “I want to know if it’s high quality, expressive, functional or decorative.”
Roy said that contemporary craft should show that an artisan made it with skill and care. “Each item is special and can be magical because it’s created from the artisan’s heart. They love what they do,” she said.
Photo by Don Ward
Cuckoos Roost is the brainchild of Kathy Roy, a Connecticut native who moved to Madison, Ind, to be near her family.
Bill Barnes, a Madison artist, features his paintings and prints at Cuckoos Roost. “Kathy has a wonderful store full of beautiful and unique gifts, and I’m happy to have my work available there. Her shop is the newest gem in a downtown full of fantastic retailers,” he said.
Roy said that the time spent at home in 2020 gave her the opportunity to research, seek out and develop a connection with many artisans, and that deciding on the name of her shop was a process. “I wanted a name for the store that brought a chuckle and a smile. Many names crossed my mind, and it almost drove me crazy.”
Roy said that while being isolated at home during last year’s quarantine, “roosting at home” and going a little “cuckoo” waiting for a vaccine, the name Cuckoos Roost stuck. The new cuckoo bird sign recently installed on the building was hand-forged by Jerry Wallin of Vevay, Ind.
Roy said she is excited to be returning to her artistic roots. “I’ve always had a passion for things build on craft, innovation and creativity. When a craftsperson makes something, he puts a piece of himself and his story into that object,” she said. “By sharing and giving people the opportunity to purchase these objects, we can all experience and find appreciation together for handmade.”
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