Proctors festival suits top crafters just fine

For the third year, Proctors will draw artisans from across the Northeast to its Fine Craft Festival

For the third year, Proctors will draw artisans from across the Northeast to its Fine Craft Festival this weekend. Fine crafters from the Capital Region, as well as other parts of New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont will be exhibiting their one-of-a-kind works in media including metal, fiber, clay, glass, paper, wood and leather.

Attendees have enjoyed the show in past years for the variety of work presented. Artists are drawn to the show because of its proximity, its small size, its high quality and the historic venue.

The idea of this juried show being in a beautiful historic theater has high appeal for first-time exhibitor Maureen Roberts of MoMo SoHo in New York City. She and husband, Michael Lubin, bring a celebrity factor to the event, having been fashion designers in the city for a decade and a half, designing pieces of hand-dyed silk and other custom-made fabric. They’ll have on hand a replica of the silk-lined, gold-embossed brocade coat made for Sarah Jessica Parker to wear on an episode of “Sex and the City.”

Different focus

The design team has shifted its focus from the hectic pace of Fashion Week to craft shows like the one this weekend. “We’re trying the art world, which is a whole different approach in looking at what we do,” Roberts said.

Northeast Fine Craft Festival

WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

HOW MUCH: $6 (advance); $7 (door); free for children 5 and under

MORE INFO: 382-3884, Ext. 134,

While they love being in the fashion industry, they wanted a change. “You want to be appreciated for your art, but it kept being more and more about who’s wearing what — who’s wearing your piece,” Roberts said. Being able to meet people and talk to them about the process of making the fabric and garments, prompted her and her husband to start exhibiting in shows like the Northeast Fine Craft Festival.

The size of the show, with only 46 exhibitors, is appealing to Roberts, wwho said people really have time to look at the different work.

“When you go to a quality crafts show, you are supposed to meet the artist,” said T. Breeze Verdant, a Brattleboro, Vt., inlay artist who works with local and exotic woods. He defines his craft, marquetry, as “the art of creating imagery using wood veneers.”

This show brings him back to his roots as a graduate of Bishop Gibbons and former resident of Charlton, where he built his own home with trees from a friend’s property.

Verdant works on a much smaller scale for his artwork. Out of inch of wood, he cuts 42 slices, which he crafts into scenes for wooden boxes and jewelry, coating them with a finish made from cow’s milk. “Jewelry will always take you somewhere else,” he said, noting the exotic locales from which some of the woods come.

In addition to exhibiting his work, Verdant will also be playing his guitar with a friend, offering music for festival-goers to listen to as they viewing the work or grab some hot chowder or dessert at the Craft Café set up for the event.

Saratoga Springs jewelers Margie and Bill Lombard also bring the exotic to their booth. They spent three weeks in Tucson, Ariz., searching for stones, pearls and fossils to use in their hand-fabricated sterling and gold jewelry, which they exhibit extensively in the Northeast.

Nancy Miller of Nancy Miller Jewelry Designs in Saratoga Springs will be exhibiting once again this year. She notes the high quality of this particular show and the uniqueness of it for this area. “There’s really nothing like it that I’ve found in this vicinity,” she said.

There will be a mix of new artists as well as a host of veterans of the show, including Jim Sankowski of Ballston Lake Pottery, who will display an array of his “art that functions,” such as vases, lamps, mugs, platters and the like.

Kept away by storm

Some artists who planned to be there will be missing because of the flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. Deb Abrams of Deborah Abrams Jewelry, who exhibited the first two years of the festival, has been living in a hotel since flooding destroyed her New Paltz home and studio.

“Just as we were drying out and started to gut everything that needed to be gutted, Tropical Storm Lee came in and got us again,” said Abrams, who is still in the process of gutting her entire house and studio in order to rebuild. She relocated her studio, but it is not up and running yet.

At Miller’s suggestion, crafters attending the show help out those affected by flooding by donating the proceeds from one designated item in their booths to flood relief. The show’s attendees will also have an opportunity to donate in the café area.

“We hear that the scope and variety of the products offered makes this show special,” said Judy Decker, the special events manager at Proctors. “From paper boxes to hand-crafted home furnishings, there really is something for everyone.”

Categories: Life and Arts

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