Thursday, August 23, 2007

League of NH Craftsmen's Fair (part 2)

As I reported in Part 1 of my coverage of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen's Fair (held at Mt. Sunapee Resort August 4-12), I had the honor of serving as judge for the Living with Craft and Craftwear juried exhibits this year.

Today I'm sharing some of my picks for "best" in the various categories I was asked to judge, as well as some I'd like to give unofficial honorable mention here. All of the artisans are based in New Hampshire and juried members of the League. With only a single exception, I didn't know the identities of any of the makers until after I turned in my final selections.

Given the extremely high caliber of work presented for judging, none of these choices were easy to make, but I spent about 8 hours with the work and made careful considerations. Even reviewing them a few weeks later I still feel confident about my selections. But I wish I could have had some two- or three-way ties! Thanks again to the League for inviting me to judge, and congratulations to all the award winners!

There are lots of pictures here, so sit back and enjoy the show!

Honorable Mention: Beautifully-made pewter creamer and sugar bowl in a traditional New England design inspired by an 18th century Philadelphia design by Jon Gibson, sitting atop a stunning veneered table by Terry Moore.

Another honorable mention to this Windsor-style high chair by Fred Chellis, a crowd favorite and wonderfully built.

Imagine using these sterling silver spoons to stir honey into tea or eat tiramisu... Made by Paulette Werger, they are lovely and playful without being whimsical (I am deathly allergic to "whimsy"), and also perfectly crafted. They were my choice for Best in Metal.

The color of my photo isn't great, but this stained glass hanging lamp by Hans Schepker would look amazing in the corner of a living room. I love the shape and scale. Honorable mention.

This pottery piece, titled "Four Cups with Musical Cookies" is a shelf holding four footed teacups. I love that the crescent-shaped pieces (or "cookies") under the shelf actually move -- they are strung up in a truss built into the underside of the shelf. It's made by Al Jaeger. Honorable mention.

Detail from a tall clock by Don McAulay very nicely embellished with what I'll call "forest findings." Birch bark serves as veneer, green twigs as moldings, and acorns and pine cone add interest without being too camp-y. He also had a bed (with tree trunk posts) and a hutch in the show.

Different fabrics comprise the weft of this rug in an incredibly well-controlled and aesthetically pleasing pattern (that can't be seen in this detail). This rug, loom woven by Hillary Hutton, was a very close second to the braided rug I chose as Best in Fiber.

This was my choice for Best in 2-D work. It's a gorgeous print (much stronger in person) of salt marshes around a lighthouse in Cape Cod. I learned from the photographer, Fred Parsons, after the awards ceremony that, puzzlingly, digital photography isn't accepted by the League any more. Fortunately he's grandfathered in.

This Arts-and-Crafts style sofa was my pick for Best in Traditional Design. The woodworking is flawless and I really liked the fabric selection and sewing of the cushions. I also found it refreshing to seeing this non-regional design in the show. Made by Peter Maynard.

This suit by Patricia Palson, titled "Archipelago Go," is woven wool, and my pick for Best Use of Color in Weaving. Patricia changed the bow after I took this picture, which was a good final touch.

Another finalist for the Best in Fiber category, this lace "peacock doily" by Ann Olson was just perfection.

This braided rug by Sandra Luckury was my choice for Best in Fiber. The gradated effect of the colors pleased me every time I looked at it, and the strong squared corners are very impressive. My great grandmother made braided rugs, and I think this one would have knocked her socks off!

This is a bad picture of a great necklace, and my choice for Best in Jewelry. In order to get the fullest "taste," I tried on of each piece of jewelry I considered. This piece felt great, sat beautifully on my collar, and just made me so happy to wear. And the bead work is astonishing. Cabbage Roses necklace by Gillian Smith.

This is a detail of a very long necklace, and my pick for Best in Metal Jewelry. I liked that the artisan (again Paulette Werger) forged every bit of it by hand (no mass-produced clasps or neck wires here). It's elegant and dramatic, something I could see in MoMA. Not sure of the materials, but I want to stay oxidized sterling silver and faced in 24k gold (?).

This was my selection for Best in Metal Jewelry with Stones. It's hard to see, but sprinkled amidst the silver and gold tab-shaped elements are diamonds, and pearls divide the tabs along the "chain" of the piece. It also wore brilliantly. Made by Christiane Hilbrig-Tauroney.

The "stones" strung on this bold neck piece are actually made of polymer clay. And while I have some issues with polymer, I did very much like how this piece wore (it was comfortable and felt rather protective) and how artfully the stones are rendered. The wooden element is courtesy of the artist's cousin, spoonmaker Dan Dustin. Made by Kathleen Dustin, this was my choice for Best in Mixed Media Jewelry.

These beautiful, diaphanous concoctions by Annie Frye are two scarves and a wrap dress, not a kimono as I initially thought. Very fine fibers of dyed wool are applied with a felting technique into black silk, creating very painterly flowers. The sewing was excellent and the concept just divine. I selected the dress as Best in Clothing, while the scarf with blue flowers was my Best in Show (Craftwear), because I love that it is embellished on both sides.

I was surprised at how little crochet and knitting I found in the Craftwear show. (Where are all the new wave knitters in New Hampshire?? Why don't they apply for the League?) But this crocheted piece by Janett Gilman, which is the "pendant" of a neck wrap, caught my eye and impressed me with its creativity.

This girl's dress by Beth Lux features a mind-blowing hand-sewn smocked collar, and the rest of it is just perfectly sewn, too. In rich, neatly starched cotton of royal purple cotton with green edging. Best in Fine Sewing.

Detail of the child's dress. All of this rich smocking is hand sewn.

Best in Show (Living with Craft). To create this basket, Maggie Tetreault took a hollow gourd, dyed it deep red, and pierced a fine grid of holes in a band at the top through which she wove long rows of pine needles and chevrons in raffia. Nestled and stitched into the bottom of this larger basket is a smaller, shallow basket, the edge of which is barely visible in this photograph. I selected this piece because as my day wore on I realized that when I had to think about other pieces, this is the one that my mind would go to and take refuge in.

Posted by Amy Shaw.
Photos by the author.

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