On Friday a friend and I made our annual visit to the Annual Craftsmens Fair put on by the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen. On the foothills of a ski resort enormous tents dot the landscape. Sculptures of stone and iron are nestled into the green space between the tents. Everywhere you look there is beauty, creativity, and sharing. Artists who have spent the past year perfecting their work, or exploring new ideas come to this show and put it all out there for the thousands of us who come to visit. From the small shows that I have done I know there’s that feeling you have waiting to see how your work will be received. Will they stop, browse and ask questions? Or simply walk by? I’m sure those thoughts go through the head of even the most experienced and lauded craftsmen.
For me this fair serves many purposes. I look at booth design for instance. How is the space set off from its neighbors. What color draping did they use to make the work stand out. What lighting did they choose? Furniture to display their work. How did they get that stand to be level on the slope of the grass? Of course I look closely at all of the booths of textile artists, but they aren’t the only place to get ideas which I can use to improve my own spaces.
The fair is a chance to feed my inner artist. There is the overall explosion of color and craftsmanship. Gorgeously colored pottery and lovely hand carved wooden spoons. Exquisite furniture, sewing needles carved from ebony (I have one of those and adore it), and the glass. Oh, the glass. I just love blown glass. The delicacy, the swirling colors. Over the years I’ve purchased a few special pieces: a clear cube filled with a colorful twist, pretty pink glass flowers on green stems, and wine glasses with color spreading through the stem to the base of the cup. Aside from the glasses these are just inspiration. Beautiful color to scatter through the house, or set on a windowsill to catch the cold winter sun.
There is a textile artist who sews beautiful jackets of silk cloth. Embellished, tucked, and ruffled or asymmetric and spare to show off the fabric. They let me imagine a lifestyle that is so not mine. And then, finally, a visit with hat maker Carrie Cahill Mulligan. Carrie knits and felts hats which she embroiders with beautiful colored ribbon or wool. Some are decorated with antler buttons, and there’s a dragonfly design that is just stunning. I purchased one of her hats a couple of years ago and had been thinking about getting another. Friday found me braving sweltering, humid 90+ degree weather to try on black felted hats and find my size. Then the decisions. Which embroidery pattern, and what color yarn? What color ribbon to line the inside. I thought about the snowflake pattern, but I fell in love with a variegated wool yarn so it will be either the leaves or the spirals. And sometime, when my order comes up in her queue, I’ll have a companion to this beauty.
It was a lovely, if sweltering, day away from the studio. Gathering inspiration, talking to artists, hanging with a friend.