Littleton, NH – The September/October 2013 issue of artscope features wanderlust: Littleton, New Hampshire, which hosts its final Second Friday of the season this week and which will be holding its 44th Annual Littleton Art Festival on September 28 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Artscope managing editor Brian Goslow, who wrote the article, visited its League of N.H. Craftsmen location at 81 Main Street (at the Village Book Store) in July, and last month, in preparing the wanderlust feature, he conducted this email interview with Michelle Allison, co-owner of the store with Beth Simon.
THE COMBINATION OF THE BOOKSTORE AND ITS ALL THINGS NEW HAMPSHIRE SECTIONS UPSTAIRS AND YOUR STORE FEATURING REGIONAL ARTISANS DOWNSTAIRS IS QUITE UNIQUE. HOW DO YOU FIND THEY COMPLIMENT EACH OTHER?
It’s a mutually complimentary arrangement, with the two stores natural extensions of one another. We both offer expressions of the rich diversity of the North Country, reflected through some of its art and writing.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR MOST POPULAR ARTISTS AND THE MEDIUMS THEY WORK IN?
Jim Lambert, of Hillsborough, is a mixed-media artist who combines his classical art training with found materials. His highly original sculpture is delightfully raucous, funny, tender and completely one-of-a-kind.
Paulette Werger is a jeweler from Lebanon, whose mastery of design and materials is combined with an always-evolving sense of style. Her work is strong and dynamic, graceful and delicate. She’s a true artist working in the “craft” medium of silver and gold.
Potters Laurel MacDuffie and David Orser live just over the border in Parsonsfield, Maine. They work from both contemporary and historical influences, including Japanese wood firing and Early American sources, and much of their work is wood or soda-fired. Their museum-quality craftsmanship is combined with strong personal vision.
Among many fine printmakers: J. Ann Eldridge’s etchings, Matthew Brown’s woodcuts and Matthew Smith’s copper plate etchings are standouts.
We also have hooked rugs by a 70-year-old blueberry farmer, Victor Joos, who took up hooking after his mother passed away. One rug depicts a road trip he made with his brother in 1959, across Route 66 in a baby blue convertible. Another is a still life of all the ingredients and equipment needed to make blueberry muffins.
WHAT ITEMS ARE CUSTOMERS MOST SURPRISED TO FIND IN YOUR STORE?
People are mostly surprised by the high quality of the work in the gallery. New Hampshire has many talented, professional craftspeople in a small geographic area, and the League of N.H. Craftsmen is particularly effective at promoting them. “Crafts” and “locally made” are popular buzzwords right now, with a huge range of products and quality. The League’s craftspeople are really topnotch.
WHERE DO YOUR CUSTOMERS COME FROM?
We estimate that about a third are year-round residents of the North Country; another third are second-home owners who visit throughout the year; and another third is travelers and tourists.
This last group includes people from other parts of New Hampshire and all over New England, from around the United States and Europe. We’re seeing increasing numbers of visitors from Canada.
WILL YOUR HOURS AND DAYS OF OPERATION CHANGE AFTER THE SUMMER/EARLY FALL SEASON?
Our year-round hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. We are only closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter Sunday.
WHAT MAKES LITTLETON SPECIAL AND WHERE SHOULD FIRST-TIME VISITORS MAKE SURE THEY STOP AT WHEN THEY’RE IN TOWN?
There are some wonderful quirky little stores along Main Street — Just L antiques; Saranac Antiques; Emma’s Consignment Boutique; One Stitch, Two Stitch, for quilting supplies and The Yarn Garden for knitters & crocheters.
Our favorite restaurant is Bailiwicks, at Thayer’s Inn, for lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch. Chang Thai is also excellent. The French Sisters Bakery has a small but delicious lunch menu of soups, salads and sandwiches, and a fabulous selection of pastry. Miller’s Cafe offers breakfast and lunch on a deck overlooking the Ammonoosuc River. Bishop’s Homemade Ice Cream is just up the hill on Cottage Street.
There is a nice walking path along the Ammonoosuc River, starting from the covered bridge by Miller’s Cafe, just off Main St. The path goes along the river to a suspension bridge, and returns along the other side of the river — a pleasant way to walk off the ice cream.
(For more detail, call 603-444-1099 or visit https://www.nhcrafts.org/localsites/littleton/index.html)