WALPOLE, N.H. – After Thanksgiving Day comes the famous retail weekend of Black Friday and then “Shop Small” Small Business Saturday. Locally, again this year, it also had the 18th Annual Fall Artisans Tour of the artists and crafters of Walpole Cooperative.
Originally, it was an event where various artists and crafters had their studios open for the public. Last year, there was no tour due to Covid. Like two years ago for the 17th annual tour, the artisans decided to gather in just three locations at the Walpole Artisans Store at 52 Main Street, the first floor of the Walpole Town Hall on the common, and at 33 Bridge Street across the river in Bellows Falls where one of the event organizers, Chris Sherwin, has his glass studio.
As Sherwin said last time, “I can’t take my furnace with me.”
Also in the building with Sherwin is Gail Hynes’ photo studio. Four other crafters gathered there, offering a combination of quilts, hats, handmade crafts, and photographs. This location will also be open for the various holiday events of the Bellows Falls Downtown Development Association, including Ladies’ Night Dec. 10 and the Parade of Lights Dec. 11.
On Saturday afternoon, Sherwin said there had been a good turn out so far. In fact, he said all the artists and artisans he is in regular contact with have reported this a “crazy good year,” feeling they have done better already than 2019, which had also been a record year.
Jeffrey Lessels, a cabinetmaker who also does artistic design and repair, echoed this sentiment. He was minding the organization’s shop on Main Street in Walpole. He felt the tour was “doing great. [There are] a lot of local folks and a lot of people from out of state.”
He added, “It’s been a lot of fun interacting with them.”
This year the shop was where the bulk of the over 25 participating artists’ and artisans’ work was actually on display, as it is on a rotating basis through the year.
Their promotion material indicates they have “a wide variety of mediums, including wool and silk scarves, hand-forged jewelry, hand-blown glass, seasonally themed gifts and paperweights, cloth and leather handbags, wood and leather candle holders, turned wooden bowls and pens, hand painted apparel, all-natural skin care products, wooden harps, original paintings, holiday ornaments, as well as beautiful and charming note cards…and much, much more!”
The third venue at the Walpole Town Hall had fewer vendors actually present than it did two years ago when it was really crowded. Wayne Cotton, who was there with his handcrafted wooden bowls and other woodcrafts, said there was a lot of uncertainty this year over the changing Covid event rules and competition from a number of other events the same weekend. Joellen Knight, another woodwork designer who was there with her fine handmade harps, among others agreed with Cotton. Still, the traffic through this venue was good as well.
The group shop and the Walpole Artisans Cooperative can be contacted through www.facebook.com/Walpole-Artisans- Cooperative, their website www.walpoleartisans.org, or by calling 603-756-3020. The Bellows Falls events can be found at www.bellowsfallsvt.org.