Are you familiar with the art of vinegar-graining? How about needle felting? Ever met a cordwainer? These time-honored techniques and traditional crafts can be seen in beautiful, unique objects, from tramp art to whirligigs, home accessories to jewelry.  Come and peruse a bounty of fine hand-made work from across the country at the Wilton Historical Society‘s American Artisan Show.

The Wilton Historical Society will host the 32nd annual American Artisan Show on Saturday, Nov. 4 and Sunday, Nov. 5. With 40 diverse artisans, this popular show highlights arts, crafts and designs that have been part of fine American handwork since the 18th and 19th centuries. Shaker-style furniture, pottery, kitchen wares, Nantucket-style baskets, hand-woven scarves, quilts, rugs, floor cloths, art, tavern signs, soap, jewelry, beautifully crafted cutting boards – plus much more.  Fittingly, the show is set in the Society’s charming 18th and 19th century buildings at 224 Danbury Rd./Rte. 7.

The American Artisan Show will take place Saturday, Nov. 4 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 5 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.  Admission is $10.00. Co-chairing the American Artisan Show are Moira Craw and trustees Meaghan Donovan and Nancy Perez.

The American Artisan Show will kick off with a festive Preview and Silent Auction Gala on Friday, Nov. 3 from 6-9 p.m., giving guests the first opportunity to browse and buy while enjoying fine hors d’oeuvres provided by Wilton’s Schoolhouse Restaurant. The Silent Auction will feature wonderful pieces contributed by the artisans and other generous friends.

“All proceeds will directly benefit the Historical Society and its efforts to preserve Wilton’s history,” says E. Bulkily Griswold, president of the Board of Trustees of the Wilton Historical Society. Tickets to the Nov. 3 Gala are $100 for members and $125 for non-members. The Preview Party Committee is chaired by Donovan and Perez.

Selecting the skilled makers are volunteers and trustees Lynda Campbell, Craw and Catherine Romer, plus Society co-director Kim Mellin, who are co-chairs of the Artisan Committee.

“We have a truly amazing range of artisans and the objects they create. This year we are thrilled to welcome jeweler Anni Maliki, with her ‘designs that dance,’ whether through movement or through texture, color and pattern” says Craw. “Working primarily in silver, she creates organic pieces that catch the light beautifully, and are so graceful and elegant.” Another addition is Petit Felts.  “I am entranced by these needle felted pieces. Are they small sculptures or are they toys? I don’t know, but each of her whimsical animals is a work of art, with exceptional quality and personality,” Craw says.

Geoffrey Davis of 50 Little Birds folk art is also making his debut this year. “I carve birds and whales and boats” he says, “my artwork comes from my life and my experiences. I spend much of my time in the woods and on the water…just watching and thinking about what I will make next.” Another new exhibitor is Kristin Helberg of Maryland, who combines her painting skills and knowledge of vinegar-graining to create decorative furniture and accessories. Her Early American-style vinegar-grained furniture has been featured in Country Living magazine and sold at ABC Home in New York City. She is a visiting artisan at Colonial Williamsburg.

First time exhibitor Philip Marc Sons of Liberty specializes in hand painted signs which recreate iconic symbols that appeared prior to and during the American Revolution, such as the “Don’t Tread on Me” segmented snake. There are many historic images that appeared during this period which helped to spark the birth of this great nation. Cathy Reeve of Greystone Bookworks will be showing her hand made books and boxes at the American Artisan Show for the first time.   “All the materials are so fantastic – luxurious cloth, beautiful decorative papers, and gorgeous leather. Box making is a craft related to bookbinding, since boxes are often made to house and protect many old, fragile books. I love coming up with the combinations of cloth and decorative paper that I use in my boxes.”

Returning this year is artist Jayne Marie Ollin, who paints shells, birds and landscapes, and also paints on wooden bowls. She says “I have always loved watercolor for its spontaneous nature. All my bowl paintings are done with milk paint, the images are intuitive, in that they are always inspired by the grain of the individual bowl. The end result is organic and when buffed and finished often resembles the potters glaze.”  Also returning from rural Perkinsville, Vermont to the American Artisan Show, Lisa Curry Mair/Canvasworks Designs is bringing a selection of her traditionally crafted canvas floor cloths. They are made as they would have been hundreds of years ago, one intricate and detailed step at a time, and infused with the beauty of the New England landscape.

Included in the array of returning artisans are Heidi Howard with her tavern signs, Meb’s Kitchenware, Zoldak and Mills Potters, Salt Box Press, Nod Hill Soaps, and the furniture maker William Morrison. A full list of artisans and complete show information can be found on the Historical Society website.

Lunch and snacks will be available on-site from the Melt Mobile.

Many community organizations and generous friends are supporting the American Artisan Show; lead sponsors include Fairfield County Bank, Granite Group Advisors, Gregory and Adams, Historical Christmas Barn, Orem’s Diner, Stamford Tent and Event Services, TD Bank, and Wilson Properties. Town Vibe is the media sponsor.


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