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9/6/07 - Visit Gilford Historical Society’s Heritage Arts Festival

Written by: Kathy Lacroix

Gilford’s Thompson-Ames Historical Society is looking forward to its second annual Heritage Arts Festival on Saturday, September 15th from 9-3 o’clock. The rain date will be Sunday, September 16th. Many craftspeople have donated their time to demonstrate various old time heritage arts crafts both inside the 1838 Rowe House and outside on its lawn. The visitor may want to wander among the various demonstrators, watch, learn, perhaps even try your hand at some of the crafts, and may want to buy a special gift created by our talented craftspeople.

New this year will be a table of early day type toys for the young and young at heart to play with and to enjoy.

Jennifer and Mark Eldridge and their children, Anthony, Bridget, Christian, and Naomi and their friends, Katie and Laura Gingrich, will be there in the morning and they invite you to join them and play with them. In the afternoon Sarah and Dean Anderson invite you to join them. In the days before television and electronic toys boys and girls (and adults too) devised simpler toys, often made by parents. Christian showed me many variations of Jacob’s Ladder and he is looking forward to also showing you. You may also want to play a game of croquet. These games and activities appeal to all ages.

Jeanne Compton will demonstrate traditional chair caning. She will be taking time from her busy schedule at her shop on Pleasant Street in Laconia, Jeanne’s Attic, to share her knowledge and expertise. People used to come into her antique shop and ask her if she knew of anyone who could repair their old chair seats. After many requests, she decided to learn the skill/craft and has been doing it for the past four years. There are three styles. Using cane or rushes for seats are the two styles often seen on porch rockers or kitchen chairs. She also uses cloth tapes in the Shaker style. The demand has been so great for chair seats to be repaired that she is now doing it full time.

Bea Vezina will be demonstrating quilting. She is in the process of creating a cathedral window quilt and will demonstrate the various stages to this beautiful quilt. Bea is an expert quilter whose quilts were displayed at the Belknap Mill’s annual Quilt Show this past October. Ann Dustin will also be demonstrating English paper piecing quilting.

Jan Donahue will be demonstrating cross-stitch embroidery; it is interesting to see all the different items that can be created.

Carol Dale is a master rug hooker who delights in sharing her craft with others. As she demonstrates she encourages those watching to try their hand at hooking. Who knows, you might like it and decide to take lessons and make a rug, wall hanging, or chair pad yourself. Carol says, “The actual technique of rug hooking is simple. The challenge and the fun lies in color and texture choices of the wool fabric and the design or picture to be worked on.” Carolyn Bailey, another very talented rug hooker, will join her.

Rug hooking began in America around 1850 with the Industrial Revolution and the many woolen mills making wool affordable. Two items become available, burlap feed sacks became commonplace and they were used as the backing for the rugs and thrifty people had spare rags and bits of woolen clothing to hook into the feed sacks. Nowadays, you may recycle old woolen clothes or you may buy new wool, the choice is yours.

Rug braiding also became a popular craft around this same time. If you have ever braided hair, then you can take three strips of wool, braid it and then lace the three braids together to form your unique rug. Kathy Lacroix will be demonstrating rug braiding, with extra braiding stands so if anyone would like to try their hand, they are welcome to see if this craft appeals to them.

Marlene Witham will be demonstrating weaving, Donna Schinlever embroidering, and Lynda Schmalberger quilling. In a previous article they and their crafts were written about in length.

Susan Percy McDonald will be there with her farm stand. She is setting up a dairy display, with many old-time items on display. She will also be demonstrating cheese making at 10:00 and 1:00.

Besides the various craftspeople who will be demonstrating heritage arts crafts of a bygone era (and who enjoy it today), besides the area where the young (and young at heart) can enjoy trying some of the simpler toys and activities, there will also be food to ward off the hunger pangs.

Gilford’s Thompson-Ames Historical Society welcomes comments or suggestions for programs or articles. You can reach us at thomames@worldpath.net or visit our web site at gilfordhistoricalsociety.org.