Local & Handcrafted - Meet the League of Craftsmen
When it comes to purchasing local art there is always the question “Where do I get it? Ebay? Hmm, maybe. How do I know if it is authentic? What if the quality is not worth the buck I’m paying for it?” If you end up purchasing a “seems-so-awesome-in-the-picture-and-on the model” piece of jewelry at your own risk, and receive something that looks like it has been through all the life-time disasters of poor quality, well… you know where this is going.
It is a completely different matter when you purchase something from a local well-known artist, jeweler or craftsman. I’m not trying to promote old-fashioned shopping with string shopping bags and paper-wrapping (though my grandma would be happy to hear it). Shopping online- but from well-known artists and stores, that stand out because of their quality items – well, that’s where my cart is rolling. League of New Hampshire Craftsmen.
Back in December of 2015 I was chatting with my best friend about all the excitement of the upcoming New Year, she mentioned that one of her New Year resolutions would be going to a pottery place, creating something with her own hands, and ACTUALLY using it in her home. “Hah, it is so achievable and down to Earth” – I thought, comparing it to my own resolutions of having 12-pack abs, 4-books in a month, professional piano lessons, long and healthy hair, proficiency in C++ coding and so on… I took a deep breath when I thought about all this “well, I know I can do this… hopefully” and told her that we should take a class next week and create our own “plates or something”.
About 10 months later, while I was sitting on my couch and doing something really important (no, I was watching Game of Thrones), I received a call from my “down to earth” friend, she was happy to tell me she’s ready to begin our plan of creating our own “plates or something”. We decided to wait, Thanksgiving was behind us, but we had finals coming up (Game of Thrones was the part of my final-preparation program, because you know, winter was coming…), and Christmas was approaching. It was almost the end of the year and our inner craftsmen had not shown up. In the meantime, my own resolutions were complete and achieved, at least I like to think so (ha-ha).
When I started to look at online stores to get a Christmas present for my friend, I knew that it had to be a pottery piece, something that somebody was productive enough to create. I looked through Etsy, but waiting 2 months before receiving a beautiful blue pottery glass from Estonia was not an option for me. I looked through EBay, where I almost got hooked by competitive prices, but then I read the reviews and changed my mind. Somehow, with the enlightening shine of hyperlink, I noticed the league-of-nh-craftsmen link, clicked, and then navigated through the website. While checking out, I decided to see if they have any actual walk-in stores and found they have plenty in New Hampshire.
In less than two weeks I received a set of 2 mugs. They were from a line of hand-painted pottery, with stunning blue flowers painted on each side. You could tell how much effort the artist put into them, yet they looked awkwardly like something naturally occurring, effortless, light and simple. I left my friend speechless with this gift, she did not even utter a word to me, just nodded. After the Christmas party she came to me and said how much these mugs mean to her, that by the end of the day it’s her and the mugs, not just “plates or something”. Even though they were not hand made by her, she appreciated the uniqueness and beauty of them and most important – she appreciated my approach in choosing a gift for her.
If you do not enjoy online shopping and prefer good old brick-and-mortar stores, League of NH craftsmen has eight League of NH Craftsmen Fine Craft Galleries featuring the work of Juried League members. Locations are throughout New Hampshire in Sandwich, Concord, Hanover, Hooksett, League Headquarters in Concord as well, Littleton, Meredith, Nashua, and North Conway. With the history of creating and crafting for the League coming close to a century, it keeps evolving and attracting more and more local artists every year. The galleries provide the ultimate local shopping experience — a place to browse, see the newest work from your favorite craftspeople, and find that special piece to give as a gift or add to your collection. Many of the Fine Craft Galleries also provide craft demonstrations, exhibitions, and instructional courses for the public.