Look and listen
Discover artistry and inspiration at the League of NH Craftsmen’s FairBy ROB LEVEY
Special to the Union Leader August 08. 2018 1:40PM
If you go...WHAT: League of NH Craftsmen’s Fair
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Sunday
WHERE: Mount Sunapee Resort in Newbury
ADMISSION: $15 for adults; $13 for seniors, veterans and active duty military; and free to ages 12 and under.
With more than 25,000 visitors expected to visit the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s 85th annual fair during its nine-day run, juried members are thrilled to share their work with crowds.
“I am hoping for excellent weather, a great turnout of fair-goers and, yes, big sales,” said glass blower Heather Larivee of HethreGlass with a laugh.
“In the past, I’ve shown and sold work in the Shop at The Fair and “Craftwear” exhibits, and will again this year, but I am stepping it up by having a booth,” she said. “I’ve been a juried member since 2006, and the 2018 fair is first time I will be showing and selling my work at the fair. I’m very excited.”
Guitar-maker Jeff Figley of King Blossom Guitars in Grantham will also be at this year’s event. It’s his first time, since he is a newly juried member.
“Ironically, one of the four master woodworker jurors was the person who loaned me a book on guitar making and got me started years ago,” he said.
Although new to the League, Figley is not new to woodworking. He has worked for years as a professional cabinetmaker.
“I started building guitars by building one for myself years ago,” he said. “Eventually, others asked me to build guitars for them. I make solid body and hollow body electric guitars with superior tone, balance and playability. I strive to create world-class instruments and eye candy as well.”
The fair is a tradition for potters Maureen Mills and Steve Zoldak, who are returning for the 31st time.
“There are artists exhibiting here that have shown around the world and are of the highest caliber,” said Zoldak. “It’s also an opportunity to support your local artists, and (at) one of the oldest crafts fairs in the country.”
Mills said she appreciates returning customers who share stories about the pieces they have collected over the years. Some tell her that they have coffee in one of their mugs every morning.
“It’s gratifying to share our love of clay with them,” she said. “A hand-crafted object can really impact an experience and forever change you. Sometimes just holding a piece can center you.”
Zoldak’s work is reminiscent of old world style pottery with slip (colored clay) decorations and detail spilling over the surfaces.
“He has added a more current flavor to them with more asymmetrical composition to the form,” said Mills, whose own work is decorated with slip patterning but often fired in a wood-burning kiln.
“The fire and ash leave trace marks on each piece,” she said.
For Larivee, her own source of inspiration varies. As an example, she recently created a piece entitled, ‘What Have We Done?’
“It examines the systematic nature of the (opioid) epidemic and the societal and health care provider attitudes towards those caught in the throes of addiction,” said Larivee, who previously worked in health care. “The piece features a cast glass head surrounded by blown glass pill bottles and hundreds of solid glass pills.”
Miriam Carter, the league’s executive director and also an artisan, said the chance for people to interact with the makers is part of the appeal of the fair.
“You are able to ask questions about materials and process and inspiration,” she said. “Demonstrations and workshops provide even more insight into the work.”
For Larivee, it’s a chance to leave a lasting impression.
“I want people to remember that it made them feel something,” she said. “Whether it made them curious to take a closer look or it evoked an emotion, I want my work to invite the viewer, or wearer, to feel something when they engage with it.”