41st Annual Putney Craft Tour Thanksgiving Weekend
Nov 29, 30 and Dec 1, 10-5
Putney Craft Tour Artisan Bring Home Awards
PUTNEY, VT— From gourd art to award-winning handcrafted cheese and wine, to farm art, twisted glass, pottery, jewelry, and turned wooden bowls and more, you can’t go wrong venturing “over the river and through the woods” to find the 22 working studios on Putney Vermont’s artisan trail in search of fine art and craft – and yes, the quirky and unusual, too.
The tour’s date, Thanksgiving weekend, was chosen carefully, of course. That’s the start of the gift-buying season. And what gifts this tour produces. The 41st Annual Putney Craft Tour (Nov 29, 30 and Dec 1, 10-5), the oldest continuous craft tour in the country and a Top Ten Vermont Winter event, offers visitors a chance to meet the artists in the setting where it all happens.
This year the tour celebrates Parish Hill Creamery cheesemakers of Westminster, who were among seven Vermont Cheesemakers who took home a collective 19 medals at this fall’s World Cheese Awards in Bergamo, Italy. Parish Hill took bronze for its Humble and Idyll cheeses, gold at the American Cheese Society 2019 Conference and Competition for Reverie and Kashar, and silver for its Suffolk Punch. Also earlier in September, Parish Hill Creamery received the Slow Cheese award at the Slow Food Cheese 2019: Natural is Possible festival in Bra, Italy. The award is in recognition of their contributions to the international traditional cheese community and is given to those cheesemakers and herders who refuse modern shortcuts and resist the pressure of the industry, the market, and excessively-restrictive hygiene laws which don’t take the reality of small-scale food production into consideration.
Feel free to judge for yourself: Parish Hill offers tastings on the tour at studio #14.
Vermont’s cheeses are not the only winners. In its first foray outside Vermont, Putney Mountain Winery’s Vermont Cassis received Double Gold and Best in Show for liqueurs in the 2019 New York World Spirits competition. Vermont Cassis is a black currant liqueur with touches of blueberry and raspberry. The winery offers tastings of a variety of its wines, liqueurs, and ciders at their winery in Putney. That’s #5 on the Putney Craft Tour Map.
Stained-glass artisan Julia Brandis and her husband have spent the past four years building a studio, which they’re excited to premiere this year. Its wood was cut and milled right on their land. Folks who have been coming to Julia’s studio for years will find it is a short walk up the hill to the new gorgeous light-filled space at studio #20.
Award-winning handcrafted furniture maker Peter Maynard recently received his first international commission, a New World Bi-fold Book/Display Case in quarter sawn oak with hand-blown leaded glass doors – the piece now is at home in Australia. He also won Best in Wood Furniture in the Art, Craft, and Design Exhibition at 86th Annual League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Fair at Sunapee this August.
Peter and his wife, Marcie Maynard—whose work includes oil paintings, pastels, and monotype prints—enjoy adjacent studios: #8 and #9.
Dena Gartenstein Moses is known for her colorful and visually stunning wearables: shawls to drape around your body, luxurious scarves to keep you cozy, and handwoven hats lined in polar fleece to keep you winter-toasty. In addition to her Vermont Weaving School, Gartenstein Moses is just starting a new company, Vermont Weaving Supplies, (www.vermontweavingsupplies.com) which dovetails with Vermont Weaving School to sell looms, weaving accessories, yarns, and kits that include yarn and patterns for simple to complicated weaving.
You can find Gartenstein Moses at studio #10 in Putney.
“You have to walk into my old tobacco barn and hang a hard left to get into my studio,” says gourd artist Kim Grall. “It was the upper story of the “cinder block” barn and in ruins. So much so the hawks would fly through and snag pigeons to feast on! We tore it all down, saving barn board, collar ties, beams and whatever else could be rescued,” she says.
“Now that we’ve rebuilt the barn for my studio, I love showing it off and interacting with the visitors on the tour. Find Kim at studio #22.
Glassblower Bob Burch, one of the founding members of the tour, is known for inspiring others with his mantra for life to “love what you do.” Artist Aggie Baker reminisces about bringing her son to Burch’s studio. “My youngest son Shawn became interested in glassmaking. A colleague at work mentioned glass blowers on the Putney Tour and we packed the family in the car and headed up from Massachusetts the day after Thanksgiving 16 years ago. We visited Bob Burch’s studio and Shawn was hooked. He went on to study glass making at Alfred’s School of Art & Design and we have returned to the Putney Craft Tour nearly every year since then.” For Burch, the tour is a family affair with daughter Caitlin, a glassblower and jewelry maker, and son Ryan, who makes functional ceramics. Find Bob at studio #1, his daughter studio #4 and Ryan at studio #2.
Meet the Artists
- Pamela Simmons
- Putney Mountain Winery
- Ken Pick
- Parish Hill Creamery
- Fiona Morehouse
- David Mischke
- Peter Maynard
- Marcie Maynard
- Joshua Letourneau
- Deborah Lazar
- Judy Hawkins
- Green Mountain Spinnery
- Kim Grall
- Tom Goldschmid
- Dena Gartenstein Moses
- Nancy Calicchio
- Ryan Burch
- Robert Burch
- Caitlin Burch
- Julia Brandis
- Jeanne Bennett
- Jeannette Staley
More than anything the tour is great entertainment. Driving the back roads and finding the studios is an adventure in itself although the studios are well marked and maps provide clear directions. Erica Noyes from Boston says, “I have been coming on the tour since I was in high school. (I graduated in 1994.) I grew up in Maine, but have family in Vermont, so that is how I started attending. I went to Bennington College, so it was easy for me to do the tour those years. I live in Boston now, but try to make it up every year with my husband. I tell everyone that it is the best event of the year!”
Collaboration Brings Rewards
It’s not just the crafts studios that benefit, but also area B&Bs, stores, restaurants, and retailers. Shop owners report that the tour drives their biggest weekend sales of the year. And for the past five years organizers have been partnering with other cultural entities in Putney, including Sandglass Theatre and Next Stage Arts, to put on special performances during the tour. “We’re promoting it as Putney Craft Tour’s Craft, Culinary and Performance Weekend. Local restaurants also offer Putney Craft Tour specials.
On Saturday, November 30 at 7:30 p.m., Next Stage Arts Project and Twilight Music will be featuring contemporary folk/singer/songwriters Antje Duvekot and Marr Nakoa. For tickets and details please go to nextstagearts.org.
Sandglass Theater will be offering a piece about belonging, memory and intergenerational dialogue. “When I put on Your Glove,” is a puppetry, dance and spoken-word piece that explores a daughter’s relationship with her father’s work and how an art form endures and transforms as it is handed to the next generation. Performed and created by Shoshana Bass, daughter of the founders of Sandglass Theater. Performances: Friday and Saturday, November 29 and 30 at 7:30 p.m. at Sandglass Theater in Putney. For tickets and more information, please go to sandglasstheater.org.
The 41st Annual Putney Craft Tour includes wine and cheese tastings and demos. Visitors can start at The Gleanery Restaurant, 133 Main St., Putney for information, maps, and a preview exhibition of artisans’ works. Lead sponsors include Four Columns Inn & Artisan Restaurant, Hidden Springs Maple, Putney Diner, Putney Food Co-op, and the Putney General Store. More information can be found at www.putneycrafts.com where you can also download a map.