43RD ANNUAL PUTNEY CRAFT TOUR
Thanksgiving Weekend: On Putney, Vermont’s Artisan Trail
Forget The Big Box Stores, Forget the Supply Chain
Experience One-of-a-Kind, Hand-Crafted Shopping
Tour the Studios during the day…Enjoy Performances at Night
PUTNEY, VT—With an extraordinary collection of artisan talent, the Putney Craft Tour stands out among art excursions, and this year’s 43rd annual open studio tour on Thanksgiving Weekend (November 26, 27, 28) is no different. While last year’s tour was virtual due to Covid, this year’s artisans are looking forward to welcoming visitors into their studios again, while keeping COVID safety at the forefront. Tour-goers will be asked to remain masked at all times.
Some artisans will have displays and/or tents outside in addition to welcoming folks into their studios. Potter Ken Pick, one of the founders of the tour, says that his fallback plan is to put up a tent/display that he can use both as a way to minimize people indoors and as a way for people who might be uncomfortable coming inside. This way they can still interact with his functional and sculptural pottery.
There are 19 artists on the tour this year including glass blowers, potters, jewelers, weavers, painters – even artisan cheese and wine makers. This includes two new artisans – Susan Jarvis and Clare Adams.
Jarvis says she transforms the histories and stories of objects, people and places into beautiful, complex paintings, sculptures, and custom mosaic tilework.” She will have ceramic tiles, sculptures, holiday ornaments and oil paintings for purchase at her Overhills Studio located on the first floor of historic Overhills in Putney (stop #9 on the tour).
Visual artist Clare Adams says that the way light and color change with the daylight and the seasons are essential to my art. When working on paper I began to feel limited, and turned my attention to fused and stained glass.
Adams will be a guest artist exhibiting at the Putney Mountain Winery stop #1, which in addition to wine tasting, also features a preview exhibit of all of the artisans’ work, along with maps and brochures.
As the oldest continuing craft tour in the country what is the secret to its success?
“Connections are what it’s all about both for the artists and the people who visit their studios,” says Pick. Visitors and locals move through the studios over the course of three days and engage with the artists, the real draw of such tours, as well as the distinctive, original pieces for sale. People say it’s more interesting and exciting to see something in a studio where it was created and to speak to the artist who made it.
Silver jeweler Jeanne Bennett, who has been on the tour for many years, appreciates the feedback she gets. “It’s nice to get the work out in public. I’m up in the woods and I love hearing everyone’s feedback.” In addition to first-timers, Bennett, like most of the artists, has repeat customers that come back “to see what’s new and add to their collection.”
More than anything the tour is great entertainment. Driving the back roads and finding the studios is an adventure in itself although the studios are well marked and maps provide clear directions.
Erica Noyes from Boston says, “I have been coming on the tour since I was in high school. (I graduated in 1994.) I grew up in Maine, but have family in Vermont, so that is how I started attending. I went to Bennington College, so it was easy for me to do the tour those years. I live in Boston now, but try to make it up every year with my husband. I tell everyone that it is the best event of the year!”
Putney also reflects the power of the creative economy. “It’s not just the crafts studios who benefit, but area B&Bs, stores, restaurants, and retailers.” Pick says. “Local shop owners say it’s their biggest weekend because of the tour.”
And, it’s worth making a weekend out of it suggests Pick. “Make it an experience. Enjoy the rural environment and take the tour in a leisurely fashion. You can’t do it all in one day. Spend at least a couple of days and enjoy the rich community of artists.”
In fact, for the last eight years, the tour has partnered with other cultural entities in Putney including Sandglass Theatre and Next Stage Arts to put on special performances at night. This year Putney’s Next Stage will present “Zoo Story”, Edward Albee’s one-act masterpiece that first catapulted him onto the world drama scene, November 26th and 27th, at 7:30 PM. Starring John Hadden and David Stern, and directed by Sandy Klein, the show portrays an isolated young man desperate to interact with other people (Nextstagearts.org).
Sandglass Theater’s offering “A Rafter of Crankies” will feature Sandglass co-founders Ines Zeller Bass and Eric Bass, as well as local crankie creators Brendan Taaffe and Anna Patton. Performances will be held at Green Mountain Orchard, located on W, Hill Rd, Putney, on Friday, November 26, at 7 PM and Saturday, November 27, at 5 & 7:30 PM. Tickets are $10 and available online until Friday 11/26 at 12PM. After then and if available they may be purchased at the door (cash and checks only). To care for all members of our community, capacity is limited to 40 individuals per show. All audience members will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID PCR test within the last 48 hours at the door and to remain masked at all times while inside the building. Visit: sandglasstheater.org to reserve your today.
Landscape painter Judy Hawkins thrives on the excitement generated by visitors to her studio in Westminster West, just outside Putney. “It’s been wonderful for me. It’s partly about sales – sales are good—but it’s wonderful to have that interaction with people. It’s opened up a part of me that has become part of my (creative) process. It’s helped me grow as an artist. It’s about the conversation; I explain what I’m doing; why I paint the way I do.”
And while there are other art and craft tours, she said, “this is different. There’s a magic that happens here. There’s a little bit of fairy dust that makes the magic happen.”
Lead sponsors include Hidden Springs Maple, Putney Diner and the Putney Food Co-op.
For a complete list and background of artisans on the tour including images of their work, and any updates regarding COVID as it relates to the studios, please go to: putneycrafts.com