League of NH Craftsmen Fair a creative gathering at Mount Sunapee
AN OPPORTUNITY TO explore the arts and crafts made by dozens of talented members of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, and a chance to see some of their work being made, were the highlights of their 79th annual fair at Mount Sunapee this weekend.
Though violent storms ripped through parts of New Hampshire on Saturday, the clouds only threatened the artists and artisans gathered under huge white tents on the grounds of the ski resort. And on Sunday morning, with the mercury climbing into the 90s, hundreds of people lined up and waited for the gates to open so that they too could get a chance to see what some of the Granite State's most talented people had to share.
As soon as the horns sounded welcoming people inside the fairgrounds, Donna Zils Banfield, who abandoned practicing law in favor of turning wood, began carving a new creation under her tent.
Banfield got her start turning wood, creating bowls and decorative vessels, after her husband surprised her one Christmas with a lathe and turning tools.
“I had seen wood turners at this fair before and he thought I'd like it,” she said. Within four months, she had outgrown her first lathe and was completely addicted to the art. In 2005, the Derry resident left her day job as a lawyer and turned to art full time, supplementing her income by teaching.
“I can tell you I don't hate getting up on Monday morning to go to work,” she said.
A few tents down, Philip Jacobs of Earth and Fire glass was busy setting up in advance of his glassblowing demonstrations. Before him, laid out on piles of hay were his signature pumpkins, made of hand-blown glass with thick swirling stems.
“I made them one year for the Fryeburg Fair (in Maine) as a way to celebrate the agricultural aspect of the fair,” he said. “People really love them.”
Jacobs said he became a glass blower 16 years ago.
“I love fire and art, so I found a way to combine them,” he said.
Throughout the fair, artists and craftsmen of all sorts shared secrets and stories about their work, including Dan Dustin of Hopkinton, who stole his idea of natural spoons from the cavemen, and Nathan Macomber who has a line of blown-glass spiders inspired by the critters that lived behind his grandparents' barn in Conway — the place he now calls his home.
Sarah Warren of Jefferson displayed her wool tapestries created with the ways of the Navajo people in mind, and Jim Lambert toyed with contemporary folk art, inspired and enhanced by combining iconic images with modern culture.
And surrounded by sticks, twigs, and rocks, Mark Ragonese deconstructed the artistic process everyone must go through as they learn to create the arts and crafts that come to define them. From simple cairns to complicated towering sculptures, Ragonese challenges people to look beyond the form to explore the creative process, to appreciate the work that goes into the things on display at the fair, and to dare them to become creators as well.
The 79th annual Craftsmen's Fair will continue through Sunday, rain or shine, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.nhcrafts.org.
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