NORWAY — The Folk Art & Craft Center at Fiber & Vine in downtown Norway is just getting off the ground and organizers hope to grow the center and offer more to the community.
Diana Arcadipone of Otisfield said she uses traditional craft techniques combined with paint in her own art practice and has taught a folk art and craft course at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for 15 years. After moving to and living in the area full-time, Arcadipone applied for a grant from the Maine Arts Commission to run a folk art and craft center in Norway, in conjunction with Fiber & Vine.
“Thankfully Fiber & Vine is already set up for workshops. Fiber & Vine is a really great and natural partner for this kind of thing since they’re already set up for handcrafts – knitting, embroidery and crochet,” Arcadipone said.
Currently classes are being held in the shop until the space in the basement is finished.
She received half of what she applied for – $1,500 – which will pay the teachers for the workshops and cover some of the materials. Thus far, they have held two bookmaking workshops. The embroidery workshop taught by Kim Hamlin, co-owner of Fiber & Vine, was so popular, a second one was held last weekend.
“There are so many makers in this area. People are really excited about it in terms of having a place to gather and teach people … what they know,” Arcadipone said about the new center.
Upcoming workshops include wet felting, spinning, wood carving and handmade paper making.
And Hamlin is excited about the different types of classes that will be offered at the Folk Art & Craft Center.
“Even wood carving to me falls under the umbrella that is fiber. We have always wanted to have paper making and ways to use all these supplies and other types of crafts. Yarn is more than knitting and embroidery,” she said. “I, personally as an artist, want to learn more things. I love the idea of having a new space to just make a mess and not worry about what it looks like to customers walking in and out of the store.”
So what exactly is folk art anyway?
Arcadipone is quick to share what it is and what it isn’t. And there are some misconceptions about authentic folk art.
“There is a lot of work out there that can be confused with authentic folk art even at … some of the big box stores selling rugs from South America,” she said. “Those are obviously mass produced for that market.”
Authentic folk art is never mass produced.
“Folk art is sort of by the community for the community,” she said, adding often times it also has utilitarian use.
Folk art uses locally sourced materials, including scavenged materials that can be found in the nearby area as Arcadipone and her students are wont to do in their book making. They often use handmade paper for the books and use found materials for the covers.
Folk art is usually created with handmade and basic tools – not power tools that are used in other forms of art. These include hand-carved knitting needles, carving tools – the latter are used by local wood sculptor Don Best, who will teach an upcoming workshop – looms and the like.
“Many of the folk art and traditional craft techniques are just old – they’re ancient. It’s pretty cool we’re still using them,” Arcadipone said. “The felting process is an ancient process basically using water and friction and locally sourced wool. … I think the first felters were nomads who put wool in their boots to keep their feet warm and the friction and perspiration formed the felt around their feet.”
And keeping these ancient, handmade traditions alive is what folk art is all about.
“I always wanted to make everything that I use and need. I think that’s one of the advantages that makers … and people who like to work with their hands have,” she added. “If you need something you can make it or you can take that Nth degree [and] make all your own furniture, make your clothes, knit your sweaters, make your utensils, your kitchen items – your bowls and baskets [and brick] pizza ovens.”
There are fees associated with the workshops, but it helps with the future of the Folk Art & Craft Center.
“We’re trying to keep the workshop fees as low as possible but with that revenue we hope to put that money into the basement and make that space available to others … for art and craft workshops,” Arcadipone said, noting the plan is to install a sink downstairs along with electrical outlets so more people can participate and other types of workshops can be held.
“We’re not trying to make any money, we’re just trying to sustain the craft center,” she said, adding the grant she received runs out this summer. “There is a lot of talent around. Once we get more visible and we get up and running downstairs [in the basement], people will just start to come forward [to teach and take classes].”
Arcadipone can always apply for more grants, she said, and hopes to be able to host a doll-making and hand loom weaving workshop in the future.
For more information about the Folk Art & Craft Center, to sign up for workshops or to learn about the teachers, visit www.fiberandvine.com/folkartcenter.
Upcoming workshops at Folk Art & Craft Center
All workshops are held at Fiber & Vine, 402 Main St., Norway.
- Saturday, March 25: 1-5 p.m., wet felting with Kiki Roy, $45
- Sunday, April 2: 1-5 p.m., drop spindle spinning with Casey Ryder, $65
- Saturday, April 29: 1-5 p.m., drawing with wood with Don Best, $65
- Saturday, May 6: 1-5 p.m., papermaking by hand with Diana Arcadipone, $65*
*The May workshop is tentative.
For more information or to register for any of these workshops, visit www.fiberandvine.com/folkartcenter.