By Stephen Seitz
Twice a year, a number of Vermont’s artists and artisans invite the public into their studios to see their creativity in action.
Under the auspices of the Vermont Crafts Council, Open Studio weekend gives the curious a chance to see an artist at work, see those works which make the cut and which don’t, see which idea becomes the finished product, and ask questions of the artist directly. Artists range from painters, sculptors and photographers to those working in stoneware, woodworks and pottery.
Little Cricket Photography has a gallery tucked away on Smith Street in Ludlow, a side street next to the Black River Academy museum.
“Smith Street is in the middle of Ludlow, and few people know where it is,” said proprietor and photographer Janie Dumas. “I’ve always had a passion for it, but I only started doing this two or three years ago.”
Dumas is also a delivery driver for UPS. Her travels enable Dumas to find plenty of subjects for her camera, though most are in and around Ludlow.
“All of these pictures are from around here,” she said. “The furthest from here is a diner in Claremont, N.H. I like moody photos that have drama to them. If the light is right, or the shadows fall on the landscape, that’s what appeals to me.”
With her high-definition camera, Dumas tends to take close-ups, and her subjects range from nature and objects found in daily life to abstracts. Some of her photos depict incense smoke rising ethereally against a black backdrop, and others show colorful spheres.
“It looks labor-intensive,” Dumas said. “I float oil on top of water in a clear glass bowl, and place some colors under the bowl. I love using National Geographic; their colors are wonderful. I then stand over the bowl and snap away.”
Dumas’ work has not gone unnoticed; three of her photographs appear in this year’s Okemo Valley Chamber of Commerce calendar.
Not all artists work individually. Some belong to groups to better market their work. One such collective is the Art of the Craft, located on Central Street in Woodstock. So many people crowded the streets of Woodstock over the weekend that traffic hardly moved, and finding a parking space proved all but impossible.
“It’s foliage, so it’s busy this time of year,” said Faith Fellows, known for her beadwork. Her work includes hats, vests and handbags, and she is one of 14 members of the collective. “This weekend, people can go to the studios and buy directly from the artist. It’s really more of a thing for the tourists.”
One group examined the glasswork on display at the collective.
“A friend of mine bought a beautiful piece here,” said Boston resident Paula Burke. “These are beautiful, lovely pieces.”
Open Studio weekend takes place twice a year, on Memorial Day weekend and the first weekend of October. The group was founded by a number of artisans in 1990, and works to advance Vermont’s crafts. For more information, www.vermontcrafts.com.