Craft fair comes on cusp of fall
DEERFIELD (September 21, 2013) — "It's delightful!" Sally D'Aquila said, as she sat in furniture maker Andrew Jack's handmade wooden Windsor rocker during the Old Deerfield Craft Fair on Saturday. Jack learned to make authentic Windsor chairs using traditional hand tools by apprenticing with a master furniture maker. Recorder/Trish Crapo
DEERFIELD (September 21, 2013) — Kathy Martin's handsewn rabbits, clothed in detailed costumes, await new friends at the Old Deerfield Craft Fair on Saturday. Martin runs her business, The Sheep Shed, out of West Dover, VT. Recorder/Trish Crapo
DEERFIELD (September 21, 2013) — Jodi Still of A Mouse in the House responds to a customer's apprecative comment about the felted mice she was inspired to design and make after discovering nests of baby mice in her chicken coop. Still's work was on display at the Old Deerfield Craft Fair this weekend. Recorder/Trish Crapo
DEERFIELD — Summer didn’t end without a fight this weekend, but before the mid-day shift to clouds and rain the sun shone on the more than 100 tents and hundreds of people thronging the old town center on Saturday for the first day of the Old Deerfield Fall Arts and Craft Fair.
Storms are all right with Judith Cary Jones of Gill, one of the more than 150 artists and artisans present to sell their handiwork.
The Atlantic Ocean provides much of Jones’ raw material, in the form of cedar scraps washed up on Nantucket island.
“In the winter after a storm you can find some really big pieces,” Jones said.
Many of the pieces she leaves in their natural shape, smoothing and embellishing the wood with carved tails, inset metal eyes and other animal features, rather than smoothing away the natural contortions of the branches and roots or the imprint of its underwater afterlife.
When working with a large piece of cedar, it could sit for weeks while she decides how to divide the piece, she said.
“I find my muse, my inspiration in the natural world,” she said, not only of the driftwood pieces but also her chip carvings. These are variations on geometric themes or landscapes carved in narrow lines into the surface of thin slats.
Sandi Giroux of Springfield and a friend have just begun a woodcarving class and were loudly appreciative of Jones’ work.
“I never appreciated this type of thing before I started doing it. It’s extremely difficult. It’s not as easy as it looks,” Giroux said. She had pictured a little cutting, a little sanding and that would be it, she said, and was surprised to find wood has a mind of its own in the grain, knots and burls that can turn blades and disrupt plans.
Giroux had a painting of a whale in tow and said she has been coming to the Deerfield fairs since they began.
“The nice thing about this fair is they really focus on artisans. It’s not a bunch of junk,” she said.
This weekend was the 38th iteration of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association’s fall craft fair.
Work on display ran the gamut from plush mice, scarves and mittens to stone jewelry and a steel dinosaur, the latter courtesy of Jess Denehy and Rich Moody of Deerfield.
Denehy and Moody’s Patina Metal Designs, Jones’ Cary Woodworking and Woodcarving, and Rockland Glassworks of Montague were among the tents representing the vendors from the immediate area. The fair draws from across New England and most of the vendors, and all in a random sampling of visitors, travelled from outside the county.
Jodi Still of Buffalo, N.Y., makes mice. Felted wool mice dyed with strong coffee, dressed in all manner of costumes and standing on pedestals of jars, tins or mouse traps.
The inspiration for the mice came from those residing in her chicken coop, she said, and the rodents have taken over.
“I’m actually a potter, but I started doing the mice and I would go to shows with pottery and people would say, ‘Where are your mice?’” she said. This year, Still made mice a full-time job. Having quit graduate school, she now travels up and down the coast for fairs.
A few stalls over, Kathy Martin of Vermont is another craft show regular in the soft animal line. Martin makes teddy bears, whose pointed faces and bead eyes line her shelves. The handmade bears are more for adult collectors than children, she said, but then she began making stuffed toys as a child and continued long after her teenage peers started making fun of the hobby.
She has sold the bears at the Deerfield fair for over 25 years, she said, and doesn’t bother with the shows in her home state.
Fellow Vermonter Sandy Quimby has found Martin’s stall at the fair every year for the past five, she said, collecting the small bears Martin sews into antique baby shoes. “She’s amazing, we run to get here every year just to get one of her treasures,” Quimby said.
Quimby was far from the fair’s only visitor. Fair coordinator and Memorial Association marketing director Marcia Wojewoda said the count reached about 4,500 visitors on Saturday alone, a couple hundred more than last year, and she was thankful the rain held off as long as it did.
The PVMA relies on the craft fairs to support their educational programs and the Memorial Hall Museum.
You can reach Chris Curtis at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257