Li Pon är'-te-fakt's: Functional Beauty in Hand-Crafted Clothing, Personal Accessories & Decorative Pieces
är'-te-fakt, n. Something made by a person, especially by hand.
Li Pon är'-te-fakt's is in just the right place. Tucked into the most charming of the four corners in Brattleboro's Harmony Parking Lot, it fits comfortably into its slightly hidden niche. To find the shop may take a little extra looking, but once found, walking inside feels like you are actually arriving somewhere. Visually it is like opening a trunk brimmed with color and shapes. Myriad objects fill the space with just enough for your eyes to feel full but not overwhelmed.
Clothing, jewelry, art, photography, and decorative objects are all represented. Everything has the feel of being "hand-picked," all sharing a common thread of aesthetics, quality, and design. The individual selections combine to create a collection which fits well into Brattleboro's diversity of customers, local and visitor alike.
Diversity is a recurring theme at Li Pon. There are many mixes in the inventory, its origins, the materials, the artisans, and even in the store's ownership. Li Pon is owned by Linda Pon Owen and her son Aaron Ryan. Both are enthusiastic travelers, particularly in South America.
Aaron, besides traveling extensively in South America, is a photographer and musician. His chosen area of study is folk music, the music of the everyday person, which is a link in his relationship-building with the artisans in South America from whom he buys for the store. Together, Linda and Aaron bring different skills to make a whole.
The inventory is comprised of many types of objects, and all carry the shared value of quality. The materials used in Li Pon's collection include glass, ceramic, metal, wood, and fabric. Each item has a specific beauty and sense of care about it. All the hand-crafted items are made by people who respect the medium in which they work. These artisans, all sharing a commitment to what they make, live in such diverse places as Chilean and Argentine Patagonia, Bolivia, Uruguay, Japan, Laos, Wisconsin, and Vermont.
The roots of this store grew from years of showing at the Farmers' Market in West Brattleboro. It was here that Linda first started selling her custom-made, one-of-a-kind bags and clothes, and the glass art of her son Tom Galbraith. Personal connections made at the Farmer's Market are important to Linda and Aaron, and they have been successful in carrying this warmth from the Market to their store.
Participating in Gallery Walk, Li Pon has gone beyond the visual arts by offering music and poetry readings. Specific artists are featured for openings, such as Brattleboro photographer Rebecca Picard, who accomplishes the difficult task of creating strong images of nature with a fresh eye.
The energy behind Li Pon comes in part from the contributions of family members as artisans to the store. There are five: Linda, two sons, her daughter, and her son-in-law. Linda works in fabric. Aaron in photography. Tom in glass. Mary in fabric. And Mary's husband, Daniel, makes clothing.
Li Pon is a person-friendly store. There is a quiet, underlying sense of freedom in just browsing at one's own pace without intrusion. At the same time, all questions asked are answered with a firm background knowledge of the artisans and the materials used. There is a sense of comfortable distance in the owners' manner with customers, to whom Linda and Aaron give both warmth and space. The end result is having a relaxing experience from the first moment walking into this hidden gem of a store.
Photography by Aaron Ryan
Copyright 2006, Gallery Walk, Brattleboro, Vermont