41st Annual Putney Craft Tour: Kudos to the Artisans
The 41st Annual Putney Craft Tour, the country's oldest continuing craft tour—coinciding with Thanksgiving and winter holiday shopping—did not spring out of a vacuum, but rather carved itself out from the happy confluence of the back-to-the-land movement and the rise of American craft.
No doubt, Vermont's agrarian heritage created a culture of craft and an appreciation of the hand-made, which continue to this day—and this is part of the magic.
According to Ken Pick, one of the founders of the tour, 22 artists have signed on this year, and that's right about where organizers wanted to land.
"It's never been more than 28 artists. There was a conceptual agreement that such a size was good. We wanted to bring in new young people who arrived in the area," Pick says.
The tour's date, Thanksgiving weekend, was chosen carefully, of course. That's the start of the gift-buying season. And what gifts this tour produces! This year the tour celebrates Parish Hill Creamery cheesemakers of Westminster, who were among seven Vermont Cheesemakers taking home a collective 19 medals at this fall's World Cheese Awards in Bergamo, Italy. Parish Hill took bronze for its Humble and Idyll cheeses, gold at the American Cheese Society 2019 Conference and Competition for Reverie and Kashar, and silver for its Suffolk Punch. Earlier in September, Parish Hill Creamery also received the Slow Cheese award at the Slow Food Cheese 2019: Natural is Possible festival in Bra, Italy. The award is in recognition of their contributions to the international traditional cheese community, and is given to those cheesemakers and herders who refuse modern shortcuts and resist the pressure of industry, the market, and excessively-restrictive hygiene laws which don't take the reality of small-scale food production into consideration.
Feel free to judge for yourself: Parish Hill offers tastings on the tour at studio #14.
Vermont's cheeses are not the only winners. In its first foray outside Vermont, Putney Mountain Winery's Vermont Cassis received Double Gold and Best in Show for liqueurs in the 2019 New York World Spirits competition. Vermont Cassis is a black currant liqueur with touches of blueberry and raspberry. The winery offers tastings of a variety of its wines, liqueurs, and ciders at their winery in Putney. That's #5 on the Putney Craft Tour Map.
Stained-glass artisan Julia Brandis and her husband have spent the past four years building a studio they're excited to premiere this year. Its wood was cut and milled right on their land. Folks who have been coming to Julia's studio for years will find it is a short walk up the hill to the new gorgeous, light-filled space at studio #20.
Award-winning handcrafted furniture maker Peter Maynard recently received his first international commission, a New World Bi-fold Book/Display Case in quarter sawn oak with hand-blown leaded-glass doors—the piece now is at home in Australia. He also won Best in Wood Furniture in the Art, Craft, and Design Exhibition at the 86th Annual League of New Hampshire Craftsmen's Fair in Sunapee this August. Peter and his wife, Marcie Maynard—whose work includes oil paintings, pastels, and monotype prints—enjoy adjacent studios: #8 and #9.
Dena Gartenstein Moses is known for her colorful and visually stunning wearables: shawls to drape around your body, luxurious scarves to keep you cozy, and handwoven hats lined in polar fleece to keep you winter-toasty. In addition to her Vermont Weaving School, Gartenstein Moses is just starting a new company, Vermont Weaving Supplies, (www.vermontweavingsupplies.com) which dovetails with Vermont Weaving School to sell looms, weaving accessories, yarns, and kits that include yarn and patterns for simple to complicated weaving. You can find Gartenstein Moses at studio #10 in Putney.
These are just a handful of the kudos enjoyed by the artisans on the tour this year. Be sure to visit all of them. The 41st Annual Putney Craft Tour includes wine and cheese tastings and demos at many studios. Visitors can start at The Gleanery Restaurant, 133 Main St. in Putney, for information, maps, and a preview exhibition of the 22 artisans' work. Lead sponsors include Four Columns Inn & Artisan Restaurant, Hidden Springs Maple, Putney Diner, Putney Food Co-op, and the Putney General Store.
Copyright 2019, Gallery Walk, Brattleboro, Vermont