Friday-Sunday, Nov. 25 -27 — PUTNEY —With an extraordinary collection of talent, the Putney Craft Tour stands out among art excursions, and this year’s open studio tour is no different. Bursting with an eclectic variety of artists and craftspeople nestled among the hills and valleys of Putney, the 44th annual Putney Craft Tour, a prototype for open studios around the country, gives shoppers, visitors and collectors another reason to be thankful. Many of the studios are off the beaten path and on dirt roads affording a great opportunity to enjoy southern Vermont’s natural beauty that inspires these artisans.
Blacksmiths, glass blowers, potters, jewelers, weavers, woodworkers – even artisan cheesemakers –invite visitors to come in, discover, ask questions, sip hot cider and find that one-of-a-kind gift, for themselves or others.
Part of the fun is meandering the back roads, following the map to find these prominent craftspeople and view the works where they are created; in some cases, the settings showcase how to incorporate original pieces into a home.
The Putney Craft Tour, though unique at the time and distinct to this day, did not spring out of a vacuum but from the happy confluence of a number of trends.
No doubt, Vermont’s agrarian heritage created a culture of craft and an appreciation of the hand-made, which remains to this day. More to the point, Vermont was at the forefront of discussions championing craft as art. In 1938, Aileen Osborne Webb invited artisans and craft groups to a meeting in Shelburne, Vermont. By the end of their three days together, they had agreed to form the Handcraft Cooperative League of America, the first national organization of craft. That organization would evolve to become the American Craft Council.
“It can be argued that Vermont served as the birthplace of the modern American craft movement,” wrote Jamie Franklin and Anne Majusiak, curators of State of Craft, a 2010 exhibit at the Bennington Museum.
In the cultural foment of the ’60s and ’70s, impulses toward self-sufficiency and back-to-the-land fused with rejections of the industrial and the artificial, further feeding the supply of artisans who came to Vermont’s quiet towns and backroads to live and work. Some of those gathered together to start the Putney Craft Tour in 1978, and some are still on the Putney Craft Tour.
For more information and a list of artists participating visit putneycrafts.com.