News Column

Offerings at historic Wenham fair continue to grow

August 21, 2014

By Will Broaddus, The Salem News, Beverly, Mass.

Aug. 21--The Wenham Museum's Family Festival and Craft Fair turns 42 this Saturday, and it's still growing.

The event, which hosted 45 craftspeople in 2007 and 50 in 2009 will feature more than 70 artisans this year.

"We have jewelry," said Cynthia Novotny, special events manager at Wenham Museum. "Some years, we have fine arts, quilting, people who make their own soap, and home goods."

The craft fair is held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the grounds of Wenham Museum and Wenham Town Hall and raises money for museum programs that serve the elderly and people with autism.

In addition to offering unique, handmade items, the event includes activities, performances and informative programs, which have also grown in number.

"This year, the fire department will be doing safety checks," Novotny said. "Next Step Living is coming, through Mass Energy Save. They check your insulation."

Children's activities, including face painting, will be organized on the museum lawn, where the Wenham Community Band will perform and the Fat Belly Barbecue food truck will serve pulled-pork sandwiches.

Admission to the museum galleries, which address the history of childhood and family life in New England, will be free throughout the day.

"We have a doll clinic, with our doll curator, Betty Nett," Novotny said. "Bring a doll in, and they'll tell you if they can fix it. Sometimes, they just need a little hairdo makeover."

Craftspeople from across New England will visit, but many are from the North Shore.

They include Sally Arrigo of Topsfield, who has managed the rug exhibit in Coolidge Hall at Topsfield Fair for 35 years.

"I started my business in 1972, making handmade woolen rugs," Arrigo said. "I do a lot of period stuff for historical houses, in authentic colors. I make them all from 100 percent wool.

"Most of them are braided, and I can make any shapes. Most are oval or round, but I can make them square or heart-shaped."

Arrigo, who said making a rug is as easy as braiding a child's hair, was recently honored by Early American Life magazine as one of the best in her field.

"I love wool; it lasts forever," she said.

In recent years, Arrigo has been branching out into hooking rugs and braiding the edges of rugs with hooked centers.

"Sometimes, to keep yourself going, you have to reinvent yourself," she said.

Rusty and Ingrid Kinnunen of Gloucester will bring silk-screened posters to the festival, which will be their first appearance at the event.

"They're all hand-printed, limited editions," Rusty Kinnunen said. "They're our own designs. The style is reminiscent of vintage travel posters and advertising, kind of midcentury poster art."

The Kinnunens offer several different series and sizes in this style, from the larger, 18-by-20-inch "travel" posters, to beach scenes that measure 12-by-16 inches.

"They usually have an iconic view of one of the North Shore beaches, such as Wingaershaek, Plum Island and Crane Beach, with the name of the beach in handwritten script in the lower right hand corner," Rusty Kinnunen said.

There are also street views, which measure 8-by-10 inches, and include settings in Boston and on Cape Ann.

Among several jewelers at the festival are Judy Wright and Jan Weinshanker of Gloucester, who make necklaces and earrings with African trade beads.

"Some of them are from the 1700s and are made from Venetian glass and were used as money in the African trade," Wright said. "They're very colorful, with different designs on them."

They get their beads from a dealer from Ghana, who uses his profits to fund education in his village, and work separately on their designs.

"The jewelry is not tribal-looking at all; it looks more like more modern jewelry, but it has a connection to the past and other places," Wright said. "We love thinking about the people who have handled these beads in the past."

Ann Cummings of Hamilton will bring a half-dozen quilts to the festival, along with some of the place mats, runners and journal covers she creates.

"I've been quilting about 20 years," she said. "My long-arm sewing machine I've had about seven years. I do most of my piecing on a featherweight Singer that was made 60 years ago."

Cummings assembles the backing, batting and pieces on a 10-foot-long frame and sews them together with the long-arm machine, which she guides by hand.

"I do a variety, a large variety of pattern styles, anything from hand applique to machine pieced and machine quilted," she said.


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Source: Salem News (MA)

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