This past weekend was our first major event hosting around two dozen artisans from Ohio and surrounding regions. Together they represented trades and arts in woodworking, blacksmithing, weaving, painting, luthiery, carving, historic preservation, scrimshaw, glass blowing, and more. For a first-time show with a short timeline for promotion, I admit there was an element of the unknown, of not knowing how many exhibitors would commit, or of what kind of crowd would show up.
Some of us on the organizing team had nightmares the night before of no one showing up or not being able to find us in the Ag building at Harvest Ridge. The strong winds Thursday night blew our primary signs down State Route 39 and some exhibitors’ cars had snow on their roofs when they arrived.
Despite our pre-show anxieties, our sign was found, the snow on the car roof melted, and set-up went well. The collection of works and their makers this weekend was humbling. Their willingness to engage with visitors, discuss their work, and tell stories is what made this event. Fredy Huaman, master wood carver, showed us how he uses the sandpaper method to sharpen his tools - no diamond plates, no oil stones, just $0.20 and practiced skill. Amy McAuley, a joiner from Washington’s Mount Vernon, was shaping modillions (architectural brackets) that will be used in the restoration of the north garden house on the grounds of President Washington’s home.
Incredible inlay on the fingerboards of Doug Unger’s mandolins, the mechanized works from Barry Wheeler, the brasswork and carvings on muzzleloaders, and soft touch of fibers from homespun wool yarn offered visual, audible, and textured feedback to the observer. It occurs to me that many of these pieces look like they should be locked behind glass, but the truth is that these things are meant for a more practical modality - possessing use and purpose in everyday life. To borrow the language of Marie Kondo, these are the items that spark joy.
There’s a lot to unpack yet - thoughts, ideas, memories, and several gigabytes of photo and video - but this is what the Artisans Guild does. We’re here to promote, preserve, and teach traditional hand skills from our grounds in Millersburg, OH.
We’re still working on our class schedule for 2020, but when it’s complete, we’ll post it here on our website, and announce it through the blog, mailing list, Facebook, and Instagram.