NH Makers Come Together for a One-of-a-Kind Event

The virtual fair from the League of NH Craftsmen offers craft demonstrations, studio tours and more from the comfort of your home
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League juried member Matt Brown makes color woodblock prints using the Japanese Hanga method, and enjoys the many facets of the process, including the way the image is separated into parts and how it comes back together. Courtesy photo

The League of NH Craftsmen’s Annual Craftsmen’s Fair might look a little different this year, but that doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on the creative fun. Due to the health and safety concerns posed by the current pandemic, the League decided to turn their in-person event into their first-ever virtual fair.

“We have seen craft shows being canceled all around the country, but we knew that we still wanted to find a way to support our local artists,” says League of NH Craftsmen Communications and Administrative Director Sarah Nyhan. “Our virtual fair is a great way to make our artists’ work accessible, and make sure that people were still coming out to support them.”

The annual event is the oldest continually running craft fair in the United States and, with 200 participating artists per year, a huge community of creatives have made it a crucial part of their lives and careers. While you won’t be able to explore, shop and talk to local artists at Mount Sunapee Resort, you can still take in the stories behind the art and purchase items online from the comfort of your home.

“It’s more than a website with links — we wanted to bring as much of the fair experience as we could into your living room,” says Nyhan. “You won’t find us at the mountain, but you can find us on your monitor whenever and wherever you want.”

You will be able to shop from fine craft directly from over 140 virtual fair participants, connect with your favorite artists or discover the work of someone new. There will be live demonstrations presented by craftsmen in many different media areas, as well as on-demand video content, including craft projects for all ages available day and night.

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League juried member Kate Kilgus is a handweaver located in Harrisville. She works with a manually operated floor loom, and primarily weaves household textiles that may be used and enjoyed every day. She finds inspiration in the illustrations of classic children’s picture books. Courtesy photo

“We made sure that a range of content would be available during the day, but also at night after work hours because we know that not everyone’s schedules are the same these days,” says Nyhan. “The content will vary from print-making to wood-turning to glass works to ceramics. Everything that you see at the fair, you will be able to see at home. It may not be face-to-face, but the visuals and sounds will be the same.”

Attendees will have the opportunity to tune into Instagram or Facebook live for a Q&A with artisans, or they can sign into a Zoom call to learn more about how crafts are made. In addition to studio tours and presentations of new work and craft workshops, print-maker Matt Brown will also be going from League gallery to League gallery to discuss art with the craftsmen, including conversations about color and the difference between art and craft.

There will be musical performances from acts originally slated to perform at the fair, a few surprises throughout the week and a virtual tour of the new Art, Craft & Design Exhibition.

“The exhibit was such a hit last year, that we didn’t want it to disappear this year,” says Nyhan. “We were able to stage the exhibition at our headquarters in Concord, and craftsmen have been dropping off one-of-a-kind pieces of craft that inspires them for us to install and show in a video exhibition tour during fair week.”

Whether it’s by buying a piece of art or participating in an online craft demonstration, being able to support local craftsmen as they continue to give their community the joy that they bring is all that matters.

“We hope that people will understand how important it is to local artists to support these makers,” says Nyhan. “This is a new, fun way to explore galleries and artists, and open the door to seeing new artists who you might not otherwise have been able to see. We want them to be available next year when we hope to be back on the mountain in-person.”

Visit the League of N.H. Craftsmen website for a complete list of fair participants, fair schedule and to donate to the League. Please note that donations are crucial in allowing the League to continue to put on events like this for the benefit of their craftsmen.

Categories: Arts & Shopping, Local Artisans