(Host) Seasoned holiday shoppers know all too well how quickly the year’s hottest products can become out of date.
People looking for something a little more lasting and unique may want to try visiting a local crafts studio. Many of them open for special holiday sales.
This Friday and Saturday the Putney Crafts Tour offers a chance to watch different artisans at work.
VPR’s Susan Keese has more.
(Keese) Potter Lily Crites Flesher is working in the studio that takes up half of her house in Westminster West.
She pounds a knot of clay the size of a dinner roll onto her potter’s wheel, and begins to shape a vase.
As the wheel turns, the clay seems to come to life beneath her hands. It elongates and grows into a shape that seems just about perfect.
But perfection isn’t what Flesher’s after. She lets the shape keep changing until the vase is intriguingly irregular.
(Flesher) It’s easy to find perfectly symmetrical, perfectly finished round pieces that are factory made. The very special thing about buying hand-made pottery is that it’s apparent how someone has made this.
(Keese) Flesher says people find a connection in handmade things. It’s something that’s missing in the anonymous merchandise at the local big box store.
(Flesher) It’s a beautiful thing that you can live with, and use in many cases, and have it be part of your day to day food ritual…your special mug, your special piece that’s displayed in your living room.
(Keese) Flesher’s one of 24 artisans whose studios will be open for the Putney Crafts Tour this weekend.
The tour is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Participants say it was the first open studio tour in Vermont.
(Eddy) I think the primary reason for this tour is to give people an opportunity to come and see what we do and how we do it and where we do it…and here in Putney seems to be a really nice little pocket of pretty nice people who do fabulous work. Many of them are recognized nationally.
(Keese) Eddy says the tour also gives the artists a chance to see how people respond to their work. His own enthusiasm is obvious.
He takes an iron rod from the orange-hot opening of his gas-powered forge. Hammering on his anvil he squares off one end and shapes it into a point.
(Eddy) Part of the magic of this whole process is the plasticity that the iron takes when you heat it, the ability to make it move and change shape.
(Keese) Eddy turns on his power hammer. Using a tool to draw out the edges of the point while the hammer strikes it, he fashions an iron leaf.
(Eddy) A lot of the stuff I do has leaves and vines in it. It’s a way of taking this inanimate stuff and just giving it life.
(Keese) Cabinetmaker Gail Grycel – who also teaches woodworking to women – hopes that girls will be inspired by the work she does.
(Grycel) Boys too, seeing not only Dad can do this but maybe mom can do this too.
(Keese) The tour includes glass blowers, bookbinders and two farmstead cheese producers. There are workers in stained glass and tile.
And there’s a spinnery, too.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Susan Keese, in Putney.