Connecting with Maine history through craft
The Artisan Days program at the Boothbay Railway Village is getting a big boost this season because of grants from the Davis Family Foundation and the Belvedere Traditional Handcrafts Fund of the Maine Community Foundation. The two grants total $10,000 in support for the popular program which was originally launched in 2016. While some museums try to bring the past “back to life” through first person interpretation where a character is played by a trained docent, Boothbay Railway Village has taken a decidedly different approach. Artisan Days allows the public to meet modern Mainers who make their living utilizing tools and techniques developed before the year 1900 to engage them with history in a fun and creative way that people of all ages can relate to and appreciate. Nearly every day this season, guests at the Museum will have an opportunity to meet one of these artisans, watch them work, and perhaps even buy a piece to take home.
Visiting Maine artisans make objects as varied as fishing lures, quilts, wrought iron fire pokers, water barrels, and tea kettles. This summer, Jim Kearney, blacksmith, will be working in the Museum forge every Wednesday and Sunday. For those interested in fiber, there will be rug twining by Rebecca Townsend, weaving with Susan Perrine, and spinning with April Reed-Cox. Anne Alexander will be carving both wood and stone during her visits this season. One of our newest featured artisans is Master Maine Guide Forrest Faulkingham sharing his expertise in fly tying. Deirdre and Aaron McGrath create wares including spoons and bowls from local freshly-cut wood using traditional hand carving techniques. Guest favorites Danielle Gerber (metalsmithing) and Ed Lutjens (Master Cooper) of the Portland Barrel Company will also be returning. Many of the artisans will also be teaching hands-on classes at the Museum.
The Museum has a new team member assigned to manage Artisan Days in addition to lectures, workshops, some special events and youth field trips. Rori Smith joins the Museum staff having recently relocated to Maine from Washington, D.C. where she worked in special collections at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Originally from Pennsylvania, she has previously administered folk and traditional arts programming in partnership with Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Rori is excited by the opportunity to “celebrate Maine's creative expression and highlight the richness of traditional artists’ processes” through Artisan Days. She hopes visitors will be inspired, connect with an artisan, and start learning a handcraft of their own.
The Boothbay Railway Village, situated on thirty acres in Boothbay, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) museum dedicated to telling the story of life in Maine from 1850-1950. Museum guests are invited to step back in time to ride the rails behind a vintage locomotive, surrounded by historic Maine buildings preserved in a recreated village. The highlight for many visitors is the superb collection of 60 antique automobiles from a 1902 Rambler to a 1962 Rolls Royce. Well-behaved and leashed four-legged friends are welcome to visit and ride the train throughout the season. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Oct. 14.
For more information about Artisan Days, including profiles of all the participating artists and their schedules, visit the Museum’s website at www.railwayvillage.org. The Boothbay Railway Village is located at 586 Wiscasset Road, Route 27 in Boothbay, Maine.