When Amy Barstow of Monhegan Boat Line volunteered to chair the Columbus Day Weekend Event committee for the St. George Business Alliance, her thought was to organize a “discovery tour” that would tie into Maine Craft Weekend by showcasing the breadth of St. George’s creative life. “There are so many talented people here in St. George,” she says, “I thought something like an artists’ open studio tour could be fun.”
Barstow’s committee, consisting of Betsy Welch, Peggy Crockett, Darlene Cocke and Julie Wortman, worked with Barstow’s idea for several months, eventually settling on a 16-venue self-guided “Discovery Tour” called “Handcrafted in St. George” that embraces an intriguing cross-section of the remarkable handcrafted work being produced on this peninsula. Judy Brogden, Rockland Market Manager of Machias Savings Bank, got wind of the idea and pledged the bank’s financial support. “Machias Savings Bank has a rich history as a Maine-based community bank in providing support for exceptional events like the ‘Handcrafted in St. George’ tour,’” Brogden explains. “We believe this event will connect artists, craftspeople and businesses with customers who are eager to learn about and patronize the high-quality work represented.”
It may sound cliché, but there really is something for everybody to enjoy and learn at the “Handcrafted in St. George: A Discovery Tour” event on Saturday, October 11. Consider this spectrum of tour venues:
Fire Gold, the studio of Peter Achorn (627 Wallston Road)
Achorn has a national reputation for his shaded gold decoration restoration painting on antique American fire engines and other apparatus. His knowledge spans Colonial times to the present.
Ridge Forge, the workshop of Noah Bly (249 Ridge Road, Turkey Cove)
Bly completed his stone-and-wood forge building in 2012 and has been producing custom railings, andirons, latches firescreens and other unique metalwork there ever since. He especially likes making blades of all kinds.
Craignair Inn, hosting Maurice Klapfish, Angie Hritz and Dave Talley (the end of Clark Island Road)
Frequenting the transfer station in search of parts he could use in his lamp repair business led Klapfish to begin creating an imaginative, often humorous, array of “lamp art” out of junk. Also quirkily imaginative, Hritz’s handcrafted creations take their inspiration from materials gathered from the natural world. In contrast, Talley’s dramatic and sleek furniture designs are, as he says, essentially “functional sculpture.” Some of his furniture will also be on display at True Hall Realty/Real Finds Consignment in Tenants Harbor.
Marshall Point Lighthouse, hosting John Shea
Shea took up basketmaking in retirement, inspired by the exacting craft of the baskets created by the crews who manned the Nantucket Lightships. He loves “the romance,” he says, of those men making baskets during long months at sea.
True Hall Real Estate/Real Finds Consignment Shop, hosting Dave Talley and Gayle Bedigian (13 Mechanic St., Tenants Harbor)
Some of Talley’s sculptural furniture will be on display along with Bedigian’s custom ceramic art which, she says, is “about memories.” Her unique watercolor-like dinnerware pieces are inspired by the image or sentiment a client wants to celebrate. She will be taking orders during the tour.
Kevin Solsten workshop (15 Juniper St., Tenants Harbor)
Solsten is a master cabinetmaker whose latest passion is fine hand-planed finishes. Visitors to his workshop will get the chance to try hand planing for themselves.
Mars Hall Gallery, wide range of media (621 Port Clyde Road)
There is a generous and appealing range of work in all media at the Mars Hall Gallery, but tour participants will be especially intrigued by the work of outsider artist Elaine Niemi, who makes captivating assemblages out of wood, old tires, paint brushes and whatever else she can find. Her paintings, too, are full of the unexpected. Soaps and honey products by Stone House Road Apiary (located across the road from the gallery) will also be on hand.
Marvon Hupper workshop and gallery (376 Glenmere Road)
Hupper is a woodworker who has recently begun making wood coffins suitable for green funerals. His gallery is also full of his own paintings.
Jen Derbyshire studio (85 Main St., Tenants Harbor)
Artist Jen Derbyshire, a former potter turned painter, is now focusing on the art of painting silk scarves. Plaids, stripes and botanical themes abound. She will be providing a demonstration of her painting techniques from 2-4pm.
STONEFISH, Anne Klapfish (38 Main St., Tenants Harbor)
In addition to masterminding a store that is itself an intriguing collage of vintage, modern and unusual goods and clothing, Klapfish herself is a creator of little, quirky works of art using paper, shells and thread.
Jim Parker workshop (829 River Road)
Parker has been repairing and building wood boats since 1978. He participated in the renovation of Monhegan Boat Line’s Laura B in 2012 and 2013 and has a reputation for restoring hopeless-seeming old boats to seaworthy beauty.
Blue Tulip, Rosemary Limmen (Barter Hill Road)
Limmen’s shop has a strong focus on goods handcrafted in Maine, with several vendors from the St. George area, including Anne Solley (knitted hats), Sylvia Murdock (baskets), Karen Stickney (woven dish towels) and Pat Towle (painted containers). Limmen herself makes knitted and quilted items—from baby hats and bath mitts to table runners, coasters, wine bags and napkins.
First Light Gallery, Lucinda Talbot paintings and mixed media (1174 River Road)
Talbot’s gallery displays paintings in pastel, egg tempera, acrylic inks and collage. She also produces cards, prints, glass cutting boards, tiles, decorative boxes, collage kits and a collection of hearts.
Sea Star Shop, hosting Randy Elwell and Jeremy Davis (at Monhegan Boat Line, Port Clyde)
Wildlife is often the theme of Elwell’s captivating metal sculptures. Davis makes well-crafted custom cutting boards, some with feet that make it possible to also use the board as a serving tray.
Hedgerow, Anne Cox hooked rugs and rustic furniture (8 Ridge Road, Martinsville)
Cox is an award-winning rug hooker whose original designs are inspired by the natural world around her. Her distinctive rustic furniture often has an unconventional, somewhat whimsical flavor.
Pond House Gallery, Darlene Cocke (41 Port Clyde Road, Tenants Harbor)
Cocke’s work includes charming watercolors and mixed media works featuring Maine lighthouses, shorebirds and songbirds.
St. George’s chefs are also showcasing their culinary skills as part of the “Handcrafted in St. George” event. Chef Chris Chadwick of the Black Harpoon in Port Clyde will be offering his famous dish of hand raked mussels sauteed with shallots, herbs, garlic, white wine, Dijon and a touch of cream with some bread for dipping (bar opens at 4:30pm). The East Wind Inn’s Chef Colin Hatfield is concocting a special fresh dark chocolate mousse on a crisp double chocolate biscotti finished with an orange-infused sugar dusting (dining room 5-8pm). The Craignair Inn will be serving smoked haddock chowder with homemade ciabatta bread from 11-2pm. Chef Jessica Beal of The Point in Tenants Harbor is preparing a lunch special of lobster tacos and a dinner special of salmon en croute (11-4pm, 4-9pm). The Port Clyde General Store will be offering samples of rotisseries chicken, the Tenants Harbor General Store will have samples of Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine Maple Syrup, the Dip Net will offer samples of fish chowder and a special end-of-season menu (12-9pm) and The Barn at the Seaside Inn will offer samples of blueberry barbecue wings (4-8pm). Village Ice Cream in Port Clyde will be open 12-8pm and the Happy Clam in Tenants Harbor will be open for lunch and dinner.—JW