Pop-up event Columbus Day weekend, October 9-10
Studio Tour - November 13-14
COLRAIN — This town’s scenic hills, forests and pastures are filled with artists who open their studios to visitors one weekend each year for a self-guided tour called Crafts of Colrain. Part of the fun is driving through picturesque country roads in late fall, meeting the artists and finding vibrant hand-dyed silks, paintings, handcrafted jewelry, woodworking and wrought iron works from about 20 artists.
But this year, visitors will get two bites of the apple: A “pop-up” selection of the artists’ work is on view in nearby Shelburne Falls during Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 9-10. And the pop-up shop, hosted by the Wood and Barrel Co. at 50 State Street, gives visitors a “one-stop shopping” opportunity. And the second chance is the self-guided artists’ studio tours Nov. 13-14, from 10 am. To 5 p.m. Columbus Day weekend is one of the best times to see Franklin County’s spectacular autumn foliage.
“We’re hoping people who come for the pop-up will return for the November tour, when the artists will have even more goods,” says Jill Horton-Lyons of Winterberry Farm, which specializes in hand-dyed yarn from its sheep and Angora goats. Last year’s tour was relatively quiet, because of the COVID pandemic, but the resourceful Crafts of Colrain artists have countered with new features to entice both new visitors and those who return to their studios each year.
“People got quite excited about (the pop-up), partly because of the uncertainty about the pandemic in November,” says calligraphy artist Peggy Davis. “It’s a new idea and a new way for people to see our work. We do know that Columbus Day weekend brings foliage tourists. And it’s a great way for us to interact with both groups — visitors and local people.”
The idea came from Kevin French, a Colrain craftsman who works at Wood and Barrel, and who makes lamps and lights from repurposed beer and wine barrels. Wood and Barrel recently moved into the former Stillwater Porcelain shop, on the Buckland side of Shelburne Falls.
As for the November tour, Davis said the member artists are “very excited to have something closer to their traditional experience” of the self-directed tours once again.
Here is a sample of what you’ll find:
FIBER ARTS — One-of-a-kind silk scarves by Marilyn Beal, using carved stamps, hand painting or Japanese shibori in their making. Jennifer Kapitulik of Rag Hill Farm offers everything from art quilts to potholders with chickens on them, to hand-spun yarns. Diana and Liz O’Brien feature rug-hooking demonstrations and offer rug-hooking supplies in addition to hand-crafted gifts and accessories. Jim and Jill Lyons offer woven scarves, felt slippers, spinning and weaving demonstrations. Moonshine Designers Cynthia Herbert and Bob Ramirez offer hand-dyed mohair yarns, handwoven and knitted wearables, and some of the coziest socks ever. Sarah Schoedel makes elegant handwoven baskets, along with jewelry from precious metals, gemstones and even from recycled fence wire.
WOODWORKING — Al Ladd of Fine Edge Woodworking has over 30 years’ experience in creating inlaid jewelry boxes, cutting boards, ornaments and beautiful gift items from common and rare woods. Kevin Noyes Jr. uses native hardwoods for his tables, chairs, furniture and cabinetry. Kevin French creates lamps out of wine and whiskey barrels. Stetson Wood Collection features functional woodwork creations, from epoxy-resin tables to jewelry boxes.
PAINTERS, PHOTOGRAPHY — Peggy Davis creates calligraphy art on cards and prints, jewelry and fiber items, while her husband, Joe Kurland, focuses on photographic art, often inspired by the surrounding landscape. (They are in the tour on Sunday only). New this year is photographer/mixed-media artist Olga Solomita, who recently moved here from Cambridge. Also new to Crafts of Colrain this year is Tony Palumbo, a neon sculpture artist who has returned to his first love, painting and drawing.
AND MORE — Morrell Metalsmiths is a long-time family business offering hand-forged iron accessories for home. Inge Jockers designs contemporary silver jewelry embellished with gold and gemstones, inspired by nature and antique designs. Eugenia Shearer gives new life to old collectibles by accents of decorative painting. Stoneman Brewery's Justin Korby returns with his local craft beer.
The website — www.craftsofcolrain.com — includes videos of many of the artists and their work. Many of the artists have been honing their crafts for decades. Their farms, hills and the rivers surrounding them are often the inspiration for their color choices and designs.