New Hampshire Open Doors, a free, statewide touring and shopping event on Nov. 3 and 4 (Saturday and Sunday), is an unparalleled opportunity to visit and connect with artists, craftsmen and business owners around the state. Now in its 13th year, N.H. Open Doors is presented by the League of N.H. Craftsmen, a statewide organization dedicated to growing the state’s creative economy.
Several new artisans and craftsmen and many favorites from past years will greet visitors at their studios and businesses, offering tours, demos, refreshments and beautiful art, craft, food, wine and more for sale. Along with numerous artists’ studios and galleries featuring everything from blown glass, jewelry and wooden ware to pottery, photography, fiber arts and puppets, participants also include unique venues like a smokehouse, a chocolatier, an alpaca farm, a mobile quilting studio, a farm craft distillery, a sculpture garden and a sugarhouse. The eight League of N.H. Craftsmen galleries across the state will also be taking part in N.H. Open Doors.
“Early November is typically a quieter time of year; there’s still a hint of color left, and the pace of life is more leisurely,” said Miriam Carter, executive director of the League of N.H. Craftsmen. “What better time to connect with some of the state’s numerous artists and innovators. These individuals are vital to the state’s creative economy and are excited to have visitors during N.H. Open Doors. It’s also a terrific time to shop for New Hampshire-made holiday gifts, all tax free.”
Richard Wetterer of Rumney, who has participated in in NH Open Doors since its inception, is the artist behind Shanware Pottery. People can visit his home studio to see him at work creating stoneware and porcelain pottery, enjoy refreshments and enter a raffle.
“N.H. Open Doors is good publicity for handmade craft,” Wetterer said. “People who wouldn’t ordinarily visit an artist’s studio, do so. Visitors to my studio will see pots in all stages of production. They can see what I’m doing — it may be glazing or throwing a pot — and they can shop at my annual pre-Christmas sale.”
“The collaborative, inclusive mindset of N.H. Open Doors is spectacular,” said Wo Schiffman, an encaustic painter from Waterstone Art Studio in Stratham. “This is one of the things that unites the state and how we build a comprehensive, cohesive arts community where we support and encourage each other.”
In her second year participating, Schiffman will showcase every step of the encaustic process, from how she makes her own colors from beeswax, resin and pigments, to how she paints on wood, stone and paper. This year, she will offer encaustic demos, raffles each hour and refreshments at her studio and gallery. Visitors can also purchase her encaustic paintings, small boxes decorated with encaustic tiles and hand-dyed silk scarves.
Nationally recognized style guru Matthew Mead of Boscawen is a frequent contributor to magazines and catalogs, providing décor and DIY ideas and inspiration. A first-time participant in N.H. Open Doors, he loves the idea of venturing into artists’ studios and “seeing first-hand the creative pursuits of local residents and purchasing the original and interesting designs made by the talented people in my community. Handcrafts make the best use of the natural inspirations, resources and ingenuity in our own backyard, and N.H. Open Doors celebrates that.”
Visitors to his studio will have a chance to go “behind the scenes” and see some of his handcrafted items and talk about the process he uses to create his famous interior designs. “I love that N.H. Open Doors opens the mind, the heart and the soul of creativity and opens the possibilities of creation to both artists and participants. It’s simply the most inspiring way to share a love of art and artfulness.”
Wilton Main Street Association represents a variety of businesses in downtown Wilton, including a candy maker, cupcake shop, Town Hall movie theater, a shop that handcrafts jewelry from flower petals, the Riverview Artist Mill Studios and Shop and many more.
“N.H. Open Doors is a great way to showcase our businesses on these special days, with some visitors returning to buy art or custom jewelry or for a movie at the theater, which often has films you might see in Boston,” said Alison Meltzer, board member of Wilton Main Street Association. “An event like this attracts people to our downtown. We are just off Route 101 and it’s a good way to get them to us.”
Visitors can find a list of participants and activities by region and category on the N.H. Open Doors website, nhopendoors.com. Itineraries throughout the state will also be available, making it easy to plan a visit to a favorite region or explore a new one.
Visitors can also download the N.H. Open Doors Passport form online and collect signatures from each location they visit for a chance to win a 2018 League of N.H. Craftsmen Annual Ornament, tickets to the League of N.H. Craftsmen’s 2019 Annual Craftsmen’s Fair or a Supporting Membership (Individual Level) to the League.
Open Doors is presented by the League of N.H. Craftsmen, with support from the State of New Hampshire, as well as promotional assistance from other New Hampshire art, craft, and business organizations. The League of N.H. Craftsmen is a nonprofit arts organization that encourages, nurtures and promotes the creation, use and preservation of fine craft through the inspiration and education of artists and the broader community.
Tessa Kurman Ali