Arts & Culture

Spotlight on the Fruitlands Museum Craft Festival

Hear from some new and returning artisans ahead of the 11th Annual Fruitlands Craft Festival

The annual Fruitlands Craft Festival returns this month! If you like New England arts and crafts, the 11th Annual Craft Festival at Fruitlands Museum is the perfect venue for you. The festival is a much-loved event, attracting more than 2,500 visitors during the weekend of September 23rd & 24th. The quality of crafts, eclectic collection of handcrafted media, and the beautiful venue is like no other in New England.

This year 56 juried artisans will take part and we spoke with Craft Festival Manager Harriet Friedrich to highlight some of the artisans.

Returning Artisans

Among the many returning artisans this year, we are pleased to highlight two perennial favorites, who also have work year-round in the shop at Fruitlands Museum.

Kara Hickey is the designer, metalworker and enamellist of Lotus & Star Jewelry. Originally a graphic designer and illustrator her journey led her to metalwork which she’d been fascinated with since early childhood. Through trial and error, some formal classes, and with the help of a good friend, she eventually became a skilled Cloisonne enamel designer. The art of cloisonne is a difficult process applying ground glass in a range of colors to fine silver in layers firing at 1,400 F -1,500 F in a kiln in between each layer. It can mean firing up to 19 times for this intricate process to produce the magic of Kara’s beautiful floral and botanical pieces.

Carmela Fratus of Center Ceramics in Shirley, MA is a fabulous mug designer. She fell in love with clay when she took a beginner’s course in ceramics at college and has not looked back since. Carmela is a master at unusual mug shapes and designs. She will make anything from her now famous bee and honeycomb mugs with luscious dripping glace and colors to her Halloween spiders, witches, and black cat designs.

Carmela loves collecting beach stones, and roller skating. Growing up in Ipswich, the Crane Estate and beach was a favorite go to. In Carmela’s words: “Making art with my hands for others to use and enjoy seems magical.” Her studio is a learning center for aspiring ceramicists or for us not-quite-so-talented who would just to make a decent coffee mug.

New to the Festival

The festival is excited to welcome a few new faces this year, working across all mediums.

Working under the name, Passion Press in Acton, Fay Senner is a mixed media artist who loves the living world and works with photography, collage, jewelry, from organic materials like plants and seaweeds. Fay includes the invisible world through the cycles, patterns and texture found in nature and the cosmos. She spent her Connecticut childhood in nature surrounded by pink granite outcroppings covered in lichen and moss which she calls her Faerie Land playground. Her grandmother’s journal collection of pressed dried seaweed was further inspiration for her artistic journey. Fay’s work is extraordinary and a must-see!

Arlette Laan is known for her quirky and colorful sock “people” which are truly one-of-a-kind. Her studio at Western Avenue in Lowell is a treasure trove of unexpected fun for both children and grown-ups. She is an avid long-distance hiker and a hiking guide. Arlette is the first woman to hike all national scenic trails in the U.S. Her friends say she spends more time in her tent than in her bed at home! Patagonia, Antarctica, and New Zealand were some of her pre-Covid destinations. Find her on Instagram @arlettelaanfibercreations.

Jeannine Stein of MagPie Book and Paper Art was by trade an editor of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine and a published author of “Re-Bound: Creating handmade Books from Recycled and Repurposed Materians and Adventure in Bookbinding”. Her first love since childhood has always been books, reading, writing, and producing her own. Years ago, she took a bookbinding course creating a blank journal using recycled and repurposed materials and was intrigued. Jeannine has since developed her skills in bookbinding and sculpts exquisite one-of-a-kind handbound journals and teaches the craft in her studio. Her joy is teaching and seeing the growing confidence in her students, and in this digital age encouraging handwritten messages and doodles.

Tickets can be purchased in advance! Learn more and see the full list of artisans here.

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