Friday, July 25, 2014

The Local's Guide to the Lowell Folk Festival

by Liz of Lush Beads
& Leanne of Leanne Tremblay Fine Handwovens

The Lowell Folk Festival, held over the last weekend in July, is the largest free folk festival in the United States. Beginning Friday, July 25 and lasting through Sunday, July 27, there is music spread out over five stages, along with a large selection of ethnic foods, children's activities, and traditional craft demonstrations.

Image Courtesy of the Lowell Folk Festival/Higgins & Ross

Art in the Courtyard

Now in its 8th year, Art in the Courtyard has become an important part of the Lowell Folk Festival experience. Visitors can stroll a shaded, brick-lined courtyard conveniently located between two of the Folk Fest stages, and visit with over 20 artists and fine crafters. This year, Boston Handmade members Liz Stewart of Lush Beads and Stephanie Cave of Stephanie Cave Design Studio will be among the artists showing and selling their work at Art in the Courtyard.


Stephanie will be selling her handmade accessories including baby hats & bibs, children's skirts and aprons, and adult aprons and bags. This is her first time showing at Art in the Courtyard, and she is very excited to be part of the Folk Festival!

Crosshatch Bracelets
Crosshatch Series
Lucite Flower Earrings by Liz Stewart
Lucite Flower Earrings

Liz will be selling her Industrial line of beaded jewelry, and notes that she will be debuting a new series of earrings that merge her Industrial look with lucite flowers.  She'll also have her Morse Code jewelry, her Simplicity series, and her Crosshatch series, among others.

Art in the Courtyard is produced by the Lowell Festival Foundation in partnership with The Brush Art Gallery and Artist Studios, which is located just off the courtyard and will be open during the Folk Festival.

Image Courtesy of the Cultural Organization of Lowell

Along with the official folk fest events, there are a lot of other great things to see and do in downtown Lowell. The impromptu, unofficial events over the weekend are often the ones that locals enjoy the most. All of the events and exhibitions listed here are right in downtown Lowell and are really easy to find.

Art Exhibitions

Arts League of Lowell
307 Market Street
Wednesday-Saturday, 12-6pm and Sunday, 12-4pm

Currently featuring HARMONY, An Exhibition of Fine Arts and Crafts Celebrating the Lowell Folk Festival. Also visit the adjacent ALL Cooperative Gallery, with a wide selection of fine art, photography and crafts.

Gates Block Studios
307 Market Street
Event Saturday 11am-5pm

The artists of Gates Block will be holding an Outdoor Art Fair during the Folk Fest, on Saturday from 11am-5pm. Gates Block is the newest artists community in Lowell and is home to 34 studios.

Zeitgeist Gallery
167 Market Street
Wednesday-Saturday, 12-7pm and Sunday 12-5pm

Bread and Puppet pop-up shop! Featuring original work by Peter Schumann and the Bread and Puppet Theater, along with the unbelievable hand printed cheap art of The Bread and Puppet Press. If you're not familiar with Bread and Puppet then you need to be! Through the end of July.

Image Courtesy of the Cultural Organization of Lowell

Unofficial Music

The Back Page
15 Kearney Square
Wednesday-Sunday, 7pm-2am

The Back Page is probably the classiest place in Lowell. They're best known for their jazz, blues, martinis, and incredible open mic nights. It's a little hard to find, as it's entrance is along a canal rather than on a street, but that's part of its charm. For Folk Fest, they will be featuring blues musicians: Matt Stubbs on Friday at 9pm and Gracie Curran on Saturday at 9pm.

The Worthen House 
141 Worthen Street
Open daily 11am-2am

The Worthen is Lowell's oldest tavern, established in 1898. Famous patrons included Edgar Allan Poe, Jack Kerouac, and Allan Ginsberg. During Folk Fest, the Worthen sets up an outdoor stage and features live music by local bands all night, from 7:15-11pm on Friday and 6-11pm on Saturday.

The Party Band will be playing at 6pm on Saturday! The Party Band can often be found roaming around the streets of Lowell, stopping to play for a few minutes, so you usually never know when they're going to show up somewhere. For the full lineup of music at the Worthen, visit their Facebook page.

If you've never visited Lowell before this is the perfect weekend to check it out!

Why Handmade: What is Your Title?

by Lynn Mohney of Prunella’s Workshop

What do you call yourself? Why? It seems a simple question for some, and for others it can be quite complicated. Are you an artist? Artisan? Craftsman? Designer? How do you define each one? Are there negative connotations to any or all of these for you? When you break it down further to your specific specialty, is your title clear, or do you need to break it down even further?


A lot of emotional weight is carried with terms such as artist, and craftsman. Such terms carry different meanings for people, depending on their personal experience, and it can be difficult to separate emotion from objectivity. The title one person uses for themselves may be unsatisfactory to someone else in the same or similar field. For sake of objectivity, I’ve looked up the definitions of some of these terms in the Merriam Webster Dictionary.

Double Infinity Scarf by Leanne Trembly Fine Hand Wovens

Artist: a person who creates art : a person who is skilled at drawing, painting, etc.; a skilled performer; a person who is very good at something
Art: something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feeling; works created by artists : paintings, sculptures, etc., that are created to be beautiful or to express important ideas or feelings; the methods and skills used for painting, sculpting, drawing, etc.
Artisan: a person who is skilled at making things by hand
Craftsman: a person (especially a man) who makes beautiful objects by hand; a person (especially a man) who is very skilled at doing something
Craft: an activity that involves making something in a skillful way by using your hands; a job or activity that requires special skill
Designer: a person who plans how something new will look and be made; a person who creates and often produces a new product, style, etc.

Handmade wool Felt clutch by Sugin Textiles

Did you find any surprises? I personally was struck by the definitions of craftsman v.s. artisan. I’ve preferred artisan over craft or craftsman, as the latter has taken on a meaning of unskilled creating. Playing with play dough, as opposed to creating ceramic pottery, if you will. There is definitely nothing wrong with the former; I like to do it all of the time, but I don’t have to be good at it to call it a craft.  Yet, by very definition, Craftsman and artisan are almost the exact same thing. In fact, the advantage of using the term artisan over craftsman seems to be the gender neutrality of the word.

Vase by Early Bird Designs

In addition, I noticed the word designer has a more hands off definition. There seems to be more room in the definition to allow someone else to create the product based upon the imagination of someone else; however, the definition leaves room for a designer who creates their own ideas.


I wasn’t surprised to find the definition of art/artist to be be the most ambiguous. Art is a difficult concept to define, in my opinion, as so much of it is based upon emotion. For example, I had an art history professor who felt there was nothing more beautiful than the emotion and expression he saw in a Jackson Pollock painting. My husband has shared with me he sees the work of a sloppy house painter, who dripped paint all over a canvas. In the world of art, both opinions can have validity, as it is based upon emotion as much as skill. One cannot force someone to have an emotion if they aren’t feeling it! However, by being vague, the definition leaves room for any craft to elevate to be considered art based upon the response to the work, and the ability of the artisan.



However, we don’t typically introduce ourselves as an artist or a craftsperson. There is a lack of specificity to the terms which doesn’t help our patrons. We say we are photographers or painters. We are mixed media artists. It isn’t always even that simple. For example, if you sew, are you a seamstress? Or do you call yourself a sewer? Maybe you are a tailor or a sewist. One member of Boston Handmade has mentioned she doesn’t like sewer because of the word’s resemblance to a gutter in spelling. She likes seamstress, and feels it reclaims woman’s work of the past in a positive way; whereas another member objects to seamstress due to the suggested hierarchy of seamstress to tailor, the latter being a male higher position in the economic scale. Meanwhile just what is a fiber artist or a textile artist, specifically?


My own field has many titles with slightly different nuances to each. There are jewelry artists, jewelry designers, metal designers, metalsmiths, beaders, and wire wrappers, just to name a few. Within my own house we have different titles. My husband refers to himself as a metalsmith, whereas I usually call myself a jewelry designer/metalsmith.

Why does any of this even matter, anyway? We can say what really matters is the quality of the execution of our work, and this is true. However, how we define ourselves can make a lasting impression on our patrons and other artists/artisans. Each person we come into contact with has a perception of what each of these titles mean, and this perception can be the difference regarding whether they take us and our work seriously. If you are finding people aren’t understanding what you do, or the depth of the skill required to do what you do, consider changing up how you define yourself. You may be pleasantly surprised!

So. What do you call yourself now?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Inspiration from the Brimfield Show

by Dana of The Patterned Peacock

As a surface pattern designer, I often find inspiration in vintage textiles and patterns. Which is why I always look forward to the Brimfield ShowIf you haven’t heard of it, Brimfield is one of the largest outdoor antique shows in the US. It takes place three times a year (May, July, and September) every year. The show is comprised of thousands of vendors in several fields that line a half-mile strip of Rt. 20 in the heart Brimfield, MA. To my understanding the fields aren’t organized by any category or aesthetic so you never know what you’re going to find in the next tent. Items range from high-end antiques to yard sale junk. And there is never a shortage of interesting things to see. Check out this chair.


And this suitcase by Samsonsite was very cool too.

So here’s what I did come home with:
Vintage Pyrex: I’ve decided to start a collection

Wooden pattern blocks from India: I might try making some fabric for fun

The best find of the day was the Vintage Fashion Tent. It was a new addition to the show and it offers vintage clothes, accessories, jewelry, and fabric. I was immediately drawn to the rack of vintage swatches. Unfortunately, I found the tent at the end of the day so they were packing up the swatches as I arrived. Donna of Donnaland (the tent owner/organizer) assured me that they would be back in September with a much larger collection than what they brought to the July show. (That alone is a reason to go back for the next show.)
The rest of the tent stayed open and I had a wonderful time rummaging through the boxes full of vintage scarves. I found three favorites to use as inspiration.



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Handmade for Kids: How to Make a Travel Art Box

by Bev Feldman of Linkouture

Between summer vacation and trips to the beach, perhaps more than any other time of the year people find themselves constantly on the go during the summer months. I have days where I feel like I have barely unpacked my bag before I have to pack it all over again, and I haven't even gone on vacation yet this summer!
The wonderful thing about making art is it can be done anywhere. All you need is your imagination and a way to express yourself. You can help your children express their creativity on the go with these easy-to-assemble art boxes using items you probably already have laying around your house.

Suggested items:
  • Some type of container (I recommend a shoebox if you have one that isn't being used, you can even have your child decorate it)
  • Writing/coloring utensils, such as colored pencils, markers, and/or crayons (just be aware if you keeping this in your car the crayons might melt!)
  • Something to write/color on (scrap paper, construction paper, a small notebook, or a journal)
  • Glue sticks and/or tape
  • Recycled materials, such as paper towel tubes, ribbon, tissues paper, and egg cartons
  • Scissors (but not if you're planning on take this on an airplane or if it is going to be used in the car)
  • Stickers
  • Yarn
  • Buttons
  • Paper clips
  • Any other items you or your children can think of

You and your child can work together to hunt around your house to see what kinds of items would be fun to include. Keep the box stashed in your car, ready for long trips, or have your child bring it with them the next time you fly somewhere (just be sure to remove any items that TSA doesn't allow you to bring on your carry-on) and let your child's imagination run! You can even join in on the fun. After every trip clean it out and replenish any supplies that have run low and throw out any items that have dried out.
What would you include in a travel art box?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Mosaic: A Warm Welcome To Our New Members

curated by Susanne of enchantedhue


Fenway Park - Night Game by ChrisLangPhotography
Stunning Dragon Fly by jbarrows
Blank Cards: Animal Park by Melsplace
Handmade Wool Felt Clutch by SuginTextiles

Boston Handmade is excited to present new members Chris Lang, Jon Barrows, Melissa Glick, and Ava Chan. They are warmly welcome. Please visit their shops and see for yourselves how they complement our group!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

It's Here! ArtBeat 2014!

by Leanne of Leanne Tremblay Fine Handwovens

ArtBeat is a two day arts festival in Davis Square, Somerville, presented by the Somerville Arts Council. It's always on the third weekend in July, which this year falls on the 18th and 19th (that's today and tomorrow!). There is so much going on that it's you'll be amazed! From music, dance, and food to craft vendors, mural-making, theater and kid's activities, there's something for the whole family. The theme of this year's ArtBeat is HATCH! For a full line up of what's happening and where, visit the Somerville Arts Council Website.

At Boston Handmade, we're really excited about the craft vendors section - three of us will be participating! It's my first year as a vendor and I just love Davis - I used to live just one T stop away - and it will be great to be showing my work at ArtBeat.

Dana Garczewski of The Patterned Peacock will be selling her bright and colorful paper goods and limited edition prints at ArtBeat. I just love this Farmers' Market print, which was recently featured in American Baby Magazine!

The Patterned Peacock, Farmers' Market Print

Liz Stewart of Lush Beads creates beaded jewelry and her new line, Lush Beads Industrial, includes pieces made using new and repurposed hardware in unexpected ways. This is Liz's first year at ArtBeat! Visit her at booth #113.

Lush Beads, Flamingo Road Bracelet

Leanne Tremblay Fine Handwovens (that's me!) designs and creates handwoven wearables and home goods using bright colors and traditional patterns. This is also my first year at ArtBeat! She will be at booth #42.

Leanne Tremblay Fine Handwovens, Handwoven Table Runner

Want to meet a baby alligator? Visit new Boston Handmade Member Melissa Glick at the Artisan's Asylum Information Table - they might just have one! Artisan's Asylum is a non-profit maker space in Somerville that offers classes, studio space, and access to professional manufacturing equipment.

We hope to see you at ArtBeat!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mining Garnets for Jewelry

by Laurie Lynn of Beryllina


To make my jewelry as eco-friendly and socially-responsible as possible, I mine many of the gemstones myself. This past weekend, my husband Jared and I went mining at a crushed stone quarry in Maine. Neither Jared nor I love mining at commercial quarries, as we don't enjoy seeing this large scale disruption of the natural Earth. But during this visit, we realized that we are glad to have been there, to rescue the amazing crystals that were created by the Earth from being crushed for gravel. Here's a picture of a perfect garnet, exactly how I found it. Isn't that color and shape incredible?!


Sometimes the garnets can be found loose, as in the photo above, and other times they are still in the host rock. Jared found a large rock that contained many small garnets, which he removed very carefully using a chisel and small sledge hammer.


It took some time to remove the garnets, but he was very happy once he got them out!


Here's a picture of one of the gorgeous garnets he removed from that large rock.


I can't wait to use this beautiful little gem in a piece of jewelry, using eco-friendly recycled sterling silver. I'll be sure to post it on my website and share photos with you once I do!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer Inspiration

By Stephanie Cave of Stephanie Cave Design Studio

One of the few artist shacks still in existence at the sand dunes of the National Seashore in Provincetown.
Over the past few years, some of my most inspiring moments as an artist have come from spending time in Provincetown on Cape Cod. This seaside beach town has so much to offer, from galleries, restaurants and shops, to the beautiful seascape, flowers and found objects. It has sparked creativity and happiness, as I’ve been able to spend seemingly timeless moments with friends and family.  

Some of the beautiful scenery that can be seen all over town
Last year I was also fortunate enough to be able to take a couple of art classes to expand my repertoire and this year, I’m doing the same. As an artist who primarily uses textiles to make quilts, home d├ęcor and apparel, I have enjoyed stepping outside of my comfort zone to explore wood blocking, printmaking and collage.

A hand printed piece from my printmaking class.

This summer I am excited to be dabbling in screen printing, bookmaking and drawing. The life of a seamstress is often be confined to strict dimensions and calculations, and so I have found it both enjoyable and challenging to work outside of these parameters. Often my subject matter remains closely tied into my sewing and I find it a refreshing way to approach something I love from a different perspective.  
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...