A Rare and Delightful Combination
by Dian Parker
The air is crisp and clear and the leaves are crunching underfoot. The light is changing rapidly with the sun glowing during the day and the stars glowing at night. A wonderful time of year to tour around our beautiful state of Vermont. On October 6 and 7, a statewide network of craftspeople and artists open their studios to the public for Vermont Fall Open Studio Weekend.
The Vermont Open Studio is a rare opportunity to see how artists work. Walking into an artist’s studio can be intoxicating; a place where they spend most of their day creating and experimenting. You will have an opportunity to observe the materials and tools they use. This year there are 131 participating artists and the list of work is impressive. Ceramics which include tiles, pottery and sculpture. Fiber arts with weavings and quilts. Stained, fused and blown glass. Metal jewelry and forged metal sculptures. Furniture, vessels and carvings made from wood. Paintings of many different mediums as well as drawings.
|Bookmaking, White River Craft Center|
Also in Randolph, nationally known potters Holly Walker and Sarah Heimann will both be exhibiting in the studio of Holly Walker, on 339 Wallace Hill. Walker’s newly built studio is filled with her exuberantly hued, earthenware coiled pots. Surrounding the turquoise studio are Walker’s beautiful gardens and seven cats.
Heimann and Walker first met eighteen years ago at Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in mid-coast Maine and have remained friends ever since. Heimann’s work is intricately carved from thrown and slab built stoneware clay.
|Wood-fired Kiln at Becca &Nathan Webb pottery studio|
In Bethel, two pottery studios are open to the public. Becca and Nathan Webb of Two Potters Studio work in a large pole barn they built to house their newly completed wood-fired kiln. You can see their stoneware pottery in their refurbished milk shed.
|Naught Hill Studio|
Also in Bethel is the Naught Hill Pottery Studio, home of the potters Evan Williams and Grace Pejouhy. They work collaboratively, with Pejouhy doing most of the throwing and Williams handpainting the pots with slip and glaze brushwork. Their studio is a renovated barn on their 1850's era farmstead. Firing their newly completed 150 cubic foot wood fired kiln is a joint effort requiring 20 hours of continous stoking.
The Open Studio Weekend is organized by the Vermont Crafts Council, a non-profit organization serving the Vermont visual arts community. Founded in 1990 by a group of crafts people and representatives of craft organizations from around the state, the Council is dedicated to the advancement of Vermont crafts within Vermont. VCC Director Martha Fitch points out that last fall the state was dealing with road damage from Tropical Storm Irene; this year the traveling is easy. Vermont roads are smooth and bridges have been fully repaired.
"It's a rare invitation to go behind the craft shows and exhibits to view the creative work environment and speak with the artist," says Fitch. "You can explore straight or winding, paved or dirt roads, and be treated to brilliant scenic vistas, classic Vermont villages, and warm welcomes from artists whose studios are normally private spaces."
With the guide, you can choose a section of the state that you’ve always wanted to visit. You could explore a specific medium like pottery or furniture making. Or you can just follow the yellow signs all over Vermont directing visitors to the studio locations. Regional information centers are highlighted in the guide as places to give studio explorers an overview of a particular area.
Vermont Fall Open Studio Weekend is a statewide celebration of the visual arts and the creative process. It is an opportunity to observe the creative process and the role that artists and craftspeople play in the vitality of Vermont's communities. Often light refreshments are served. Perhaps with a glass of cider in hand, you can find out how Holly Walker pinches her clay and pick out one of her colorful jars. Or walk away with a butter keeper from the Two Potter Studio or a three foot tall vase from the Naught hill Pottery Studio in Bethel. Each artist participating in the Open Studio will have their work for sale.
This is a time to immerse yourself in the mind of an artist. Visit the studios and find out where they do their work and how they work. Artists are a rare and delightful breed. Come and relish their world with them.
Vermont Crafts Council
A version of this story was first published in the Randolph Herald, October, 2012. Gratefully printed here by permission.