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Timeline of Craft in Vermont

 
1938 Vermont Handicraft Guild forms, sponsoring comprehensive exhibition of Vermont handicrafts in Montpelier and developing plans for a state-supported Arts and Crafts Service

Aileen Osborn Webb convenes a 3-day meeting in Shelburne, resulting in the establishment of the first national organization of American craft artists under the name Handcraft Cooperative League of America, the precursor to the American Crafts Council

1941 The Vermont legislature passes Act No. 68, establishing the Vermont Arts and Crafts Service within the State Department of Education

1945

Shelburne Craft School established by the Rev. J. Lynwood Smith with financial support from Aileen Webb

Ruth Coburn becomes the second director of the Arts & Crafts Service, organizing craft classes for adults and children, making loans to craftspeople and organizations from its revolving fund, and publishing printed directories of Vermont craftsmen and craft shops

1947

The Fletcher Farm School for the Arts and Crafts opens in Proctorsville, operated by the Society of Vermont Craftsmen

1948 David Gil founds Bennington Potters as a cooperative venture; over the ensuing decades, Bennington Potters grows into a major ceramic industrial enterprise and wins design awards from the Museum of Modern Art, the Chicago Merchandise Mart, and the Academie Internationale de la Ceramique de Cannes
1949 Vermont crafts are sold at Three Green Doors in Stowe, an “all Vermont shop”, and at Vermont Products Store which operates in both Vermont and Massachusetts.
1950 Vermont Hand Crafters is founded to further develop crafts in Vermont and aid craftspeople; 77 members are listed in 1954-1955; Hand Crafters holds four Craft Bazaars that year in Brandon, Castleton, Rutland and Burlington
1956

Vermont Craft Market in Shelburne—a three-day groundbreaking event of craft from around the state, jointly sponsored by the Arts & Crafts Service and the Society of Vermont Craftsmen

Vermont Hand Crafters operates two consignment shops in Shelburne and Manchester Center; Membership dues are $2 annually

1957 The Gables in Stowe offers a two-month Summer School of Handicraft with courses in jewelry making, painting, ceramics and enamel work
1959 The Allied Craftsmen of Vermont forms, an organization associated with the American Crafts Council (ACC); the Vermont group is spearheaded by Helen Beckerhoff, Nancy Wickham Boyd, J. Lynwood Smith, Ruth Coburn, Luella Schroeder, and Aileen Osborn Webb
1960 Allied Craftsmen of Vermont organizes a high-quality craft show in Stowe juried by David Campbell, President of ACC and Director of the Museum of Contemporary Crafts; that year the Allied Craftsmen of Vermont also sponsors a media conference, an exhibit on woodworking at the Fleming Museum, and a design conference with awards for good craft design
1964

Peter Wendland becomes the third director of the Arts & Crafts Service, shifting the focus to professional craftspeople and polished marketing campaigns

First year of the Stratton Arts Festival at the base lodge of the ski area, organized by Peter Wendland of the Arts & Crafts Service; the juried show includes both fine craft and fine art and is held every fall until 2002

1964

Bennington Potters collaborates with major American painters and sculptors (including sculptor David Smith) on a project commissioned by the magazine Art in America to make limited editions of ceramic objects

1965 Persuaded by Wendland and others, the American Craft Council (ACC) holds its first-ever craft fair at Stowe; the fair features extreme weather, a famous ox roast, and so much noise that the group is “kicked out” and has to find another home for the following year
1966 ACC fair is moved to Mt. Snow for two years; another ox roast, this time the pit is flooded as more extreme weather prevails
1968

ACC fair is moved to Bennington for four more years, before outgrowing space and going to Rhinebeck, New York; admittance buttons become collectors’ items

Vermont Hand Crafters holds a wholesale show for two years in Brandon with support from the Arts & Crafts Service

Sheepbreeders Association initiates natural yarn marketing program with support from Ag Marketing Development Division

1969

D’Ann Fago becomes last director of the Arts & Crafts Service until 1977, continuing to act as a resource for craftspeople but shifting limited resources back to craft education in the public schools

First Burklyn Christmas Market is held at Burklyn Manor, a mansion straddling the Lyndon/East Burke town line; Elizabeth Brouha, who was trying to save the building for use as an art museum, organized the fair, which now is called the Burklyn Arts Holiday Market

1970 Aileen Osborn Webb, the “grand dame” of American craft who also plays a role in numerous craft organizations in Vermont, is the recipient of the coveted Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts from the Vermont Council on the Arts
1971

Coca-Cola heir and self-described “black sheep” Alan Johnson along with Middlebury resident Dick Wissler founds the Frog Hollow Craft Center in an old mill building in Middlebury; Frog Hollow has resident artists in wood, metal, clay, glass and weaving, craft classes for young people, and a gallery for professional craftspeople; Nancy Hileman is hired as the first Director

Elizabeth Brouha officially founds Burklyn Arts Council; the organization currently is known for its two annual craft fairs that raise money to augment arts programs in schools in the Northeast Kingdom

1972

L.J. Serkin Company opens in Brattleboro, one of the first fine craft stores in New England (later to become Vermont Artisan Designs)

The Arts & Crafts Service chooses Terry Faith Anderson Weihs to coordinate the Franklin County pilot project for revitalization through craft.

1973

Craftproducers is formed by Charlie Dooley, John McCloud, Bob Burnell and Riki Moss to fill the void left when ACC moves their show from Bennington to Rhinebeck; Their first craft show is called Willmington One, a “happening” notable for the exhibitors’ spaces set up on an uneven hillside

Thomas Bloom, UVM Extension Researcher and Professor, produces comprehensive study on impact of crafts in the state, estimating 10 million in income from in-state sales

1974

The Interagency Crafts Council (IACC) is formed through the efforts of the Ellen McCulloch-Lovell at the Vermont Council on the Arts (VCA); Terry Faith Anderson Weihs is designated as the Vermont Craft Specialist; IACC’s mission is to explore ways in which the State can aid development of crafts in Vermont and to coordinate craft activities in the various agencies of state government

Shelburne Handspinners Project begins, a Microbusiness Development Model Project that is an initiative of IACC. 14 unemployed/underemployed women learn handspinning using Vermont grown wool. The success of this initiative spawned other local projects such as Kent Weavers

Vermont Council on the Arts Touring Aid Program supports residencies by craft artists in schools and community organizations; in l984, VCA eliminates craft artists from touring aid registry

David Gil of Bennington Potters is awarded Vermont Small Business “Person of

the Year”

1975

Craft Professionals of Vermont (CPV) is created following a statewide meeting of craftspeople at the Middlebury Snow Bowl that is facilitated by the Interagency Craft Council’s Craft Specialist, Terry Weihs; CPV works to develop marketing opportunities for craftspeople; CPV exists for seven years until 1982

First Craft Professionals of Vermontshow debuts in Quechee, a Vermont-only wholesale trade exposition; 89 craft artists and 200 buyers participated and the event yielded $70,000 in sales. The show was held for another three years.

Interagency Craft Council organizes the Northeast Regional Craft Fair in Stowe. The itinerant event lasted another 2 years, with the 1977 show in Bennington grossing over $200,000.

Frog Hollow Craft Center in Middlebury is designated as the first Vermont State Craft Center by executive order of Governor Thomas Salmon; the designation was a recommendation by the Interagency Crafts Council as one of the ways the state could aid the development of crafts in Vermont through a Vermont-focused marketing system

The Vermont Arts & Crafts Service ends, a victim of budget cuts in the Department of Education

1976

Windsor House Craft Center is designated as the second Vermont State Craft Center

Norman Kennedy, a traditional weaver from Scotland, founds Marshfield School of Weaving; Kennedy, also a well-known singer of Scottish and Gaelic ballads, teaches classes of 2-3 students on traditional methods of textile production on seven-foot tall wooden looms from the late 18th and early 19th centuries; the school closes in 1992, but is then reborn as Eaton Hill Textile Works before recently again becoming the Marshfield School of Weaving

The Vermont Council on the Arts (VCA) creates the Public Arts Program, a job creation and skill development initiative in partnership with VT Comprehensive Employment Training and with Title VI federal funding; projects provide employment to Vermont craft artists in public service jobs, including positions at the State Crafts Centers at Frog Hollow and Windsor House; the program ends in l982, when federal funding is eliminated

The VCA allocates funds for Craft Development Demonstration Initiatives; a $10,100 matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts supports “Craftsmen in Schools,” including a weaver, a silversmith, a potter and a woodworker; the program also supports direct classroom training, through which 6 trainees work with master craftsmen

1977

UVM Extension Service & Agriculture Experiment Station conducts survey of 250 retail outlets to improve marketing/sales of Vermont craft industry and help craft producers place more merchandise in Vermont retail outlets; the study leads to many Extension Service efforts to support craft-based businesses, courses, and publications

The Vermont Crafts Economic Impact Survey developed by Vermont Craft Specialist Terry Faith Weihs is presented to the Interagency Crafts Council

First Vermont Quilt Festival is held in Northfield

Twenty artisans get together in Plainfield at the suggestion of Janet Ressler and start planning a craft cooperative to allow them to sell their work locally, an effort that leads to the creation of the Artisans’ Hand

1978

The Artisans’ Hand Craft Cooperative opens on Langdon St in Montpelier in November initially as a holiday venture; the experiment is so successful that the founders decided to continue.

First Craft Professionals of Vermont Juried Exhibition at the T.W. Wood Art Gallery in Montpelier.

Thomas K. Bloom (UVM Extension Service) authors the publication, Business Management Skill for the Producer

First Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival presented by Craftproducers and held annually since

First Putney Artisans Festival takes place, spurred by Margot Torrey, a local artist with an idea to create an event for area craftspeople to sell their works; the self-guided tour of artists studios was unique at the time and served as a model for craft tours by other organizations in the future; it is now called the Putney Tour

1979

Thomas K. Bloom and Merle Schloff (UVM Extension Service) author the publication, Educational Opportunities: A Guide for the Crafts Community

1982

Craft Professionals of Vermont dissolves

First Stowe Foliage Arts Festival presented by Craftproducers and held annually ever since

Green Mountain Spinnery, a national business that processes and sells wool produced in the United States, opens in Putney

Bruce Baker does his first booth design workshop; the jewelry maker and store owner gets a huge response and over the next 18 years teaches hundreds of workshops on booth construction, marketing, sales, customer service and craft trends

1983

First Weston Craft Show of juried Vermont artisans is held in the Weston Playhouse; the annual show continues today and has been called “One of Vermont’s Top Ten Fall Events”

Vermont Lacers Guild becomes an official chapter of the International Old Lacers; the guild is founded by Margaret Lancaster, Genevieve Huber and Katharine Dopp

1984 Vermont Council on the Arts (VCA) eliminates craft artists from touring aid registry
1985 Vermont Hand Crafters bestows Lifetime Memberships to Luella Schroeder, Katharine Dopp, Nina Eckley and Bessie Daily to honor their dedication to Vermont Crafts
1986

First Vermont State Craft Fair is held at Killington, organized by Vermont Department of Economic Development; notable for a “Designs for Living” exhibit and an unexpected snowstorm in August; a second fair is held the following year

Roberta MacDonald from the Vermont Department of Economic Development coordinates a showcase of Vermont furniture makers and craft for the home in a collective booth at the High Point Furniture Market within the program Market Vermont; the state promotes Vermont furniture and craft at High Point for three years

Billings Farm & Museum holds first Windsor County Quilt Exhibition,

an annual event ever since

The Smithsonian Renwick gallery presents Crafts from Vermont, one of a series of exhibitions from each of the states. The following year, the Encore Show presented 27 craftspeople chosen from the various state exhibits, including jewelers Shawn and Ann Lester of Plainfield.

1987 Vermonters at Their Craft is published, featuring the stories of 30 Vermont craftspeople, either native Vermonters or “sixties transplants in search of a craft dream”
1990

Vermont Crafts Council is formed for the promotion of Vermont crafts inside and outside the state with Martha Fitch as the VCC president; Fitch’s role later changes to Executive Director, which she serves at present

Basketmaker Jackie Abrams initiates a collaboration between the Vermont Crafts Council and the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen to create an advanced level workshop program in New England; soon becoming a separate organization, the first North Country Studio Conference is held three years later

1991

Executive Director Pamela Siers orchestrates an expansion of the Frog Hollow State Craft Center; a second location is opened on Church Street in Burlington, followed the next year by a third location in Manchester Village

The Burlington Craft Fair produced by Vermont Hand Crafters moves from Memorial Auditorium to the Sheraton

1992

The Artisans’ Hand gallery on State Street floods in March when an ice jam on the Winooski River sends water streaming into the heart of Montpelier; this could have been the end of the craft cooperative as insurance did not cover the damage, but the members carried on; one immediate result was the gallery moved to its present location on Main Street above the flood plain

Marshfield School of Weaving closes, but is then reborn as Eaton Hill Textiles and the School for Traditional Handweaving, run by former student Kate Smith; recently it has again become the Marshfield School of Weaving

Frog Hollow State Craft Center opens a third location in Manchester Village across from the Equinox Hotel

Vermont Folklife Center inaugurates the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program through funding from the National Endowment for the Arts

First Hildene Fall Arts Festival in Manchester is presented by Craftproducers

1993

Year of the American Craft is celebrated nationwide; Terry Faith Anderson Weihs, former Vermont craft specialist for the Interagency Craft Council, is instrumental in initiating this project; numerous events in Vermont are held in conjunction with this salute to American craft

First Open Studio Weekend sponsored by the Vermont Crafts Council in conjunction with the national event Year of the American Craft; studios, shops and galleries are open to visitors with the theme “Craftspeople Are Your Neighbors”

Michael Monroe of the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery, organizes a White House Collection of craft as part of the Year of American Craft with the support of President and Mrs. Bill Clinton; Vermont craftspeople whose work is selected for the collection are quilter Judy Dales and wood turner Alan Stirt

First North Country Studio Conference is held at the Shaker Village in Enfield, New Hampshire, offering master-level classes to craftspeople in New England; the conference is moved to Bennington College in 1995, where it has been held biennially ever since

The Woodchuck Turners of Northern Vermont is formed for the advancement of woodturning

Intersections: Vermont Crafts 1993 is exhibited at the Fleming Museum in Burlington in conjunction with Year of the American Craft

Vermont Crafts Council takes over maintaining exhibit space at the "Big E", Eastern States Exposition from the Vermont State Craft Centers at Frog Hollow and Windsor House, as the Vermont Building changes the space from a closed exhibit space to an open space requiring it to be staffed.

Vermont Clay Studio is founded by Jeanne & Paul Haskell above the Savoy Theatre in Montpelier; it moves to a larger space on Route 100 in Waterbury Center in 1996/7; the studio offers numerous ceramics workshops and exhibitions, but closes in 2003

1995

Vermont Crafts Council produces a display of Vermont crafts at the first redone highway information center on I-91 in Bradford

President Bill Clinton stops at Frog Hollow Craft Center in Burlington during his visit to Vermont, accompanied by Governor Howard Dean, Senator Patrick Leahy, and Representative Bernie Sanders

North Country Studio Conference is moved to Bennington College for its biennial master-level workshops

1996

Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) moves its national headquarters to Vermont

Vermont Clay Studio moves from Montpelier to Waterbury Center on Rte.100

1997

Vermont Furniture Makers Guild is organized, an association of master level furniture makers

Seven local artisans found Northeast Kingdom Artisans Guild as a cooperative craft shop in St. Johnsbury

Danforth Pewterers’s Fred and Judi Danforth are named as US Small Business Administration's Vermont Small Business Persons of the Year.

Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund creates Cornerstone Fund to assist Vermont wood manufacturing businesses create markets for sustainable Vermont products and services. Vermont Woodnet, a network of woodworkers, receives five grants.

Agriculture Development Division organizes fiber producers (Vermont FiberWorks)

1998 Vermont FiberWorks receives USDA grant to expand fiber processing in Vermont
1999

An old warehouse in Randolph is turned into the ceramic, woodshop and stained glass studios that comprise the White River Craft Center

Brandon craftspeople and artists join together under the leadership of folk artist Warren Kimble to form the Brandon Artists’ Guild

2002 Vermont Wood Products Marketing Council forms under the auspices of the Department of Economic Development
2003

First Vermont Fine Furniture and Woodworking Festival, an annual showcase thereafter in Woodstock

The Brandon Artists’ Guild blossoms with the advent of The Really Really Pig Show, a community-wide art project repeated in subsequent years with other themes such as birdhouses, rocking chairs, and artist palettes

Vermont Clay Studio closes

2006 Vermont Crafts Council begins work on State of Craft, a major cultural heritage initiative undertaken in anticipation of VCC's 20th anniversary in 2010; Meg Ostrum is hired as project director, and she enrolls the Vermont Folklife Center and the Bennington Museum in a cooperative endeavor to document, preserve, and interpret the contemporary crafts movement in Vermont
2007

Vermont Crafts Council receives a prestigious $15,000 grant from the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design to underwrite oral history interviews by the Vermont Folklife Center with leading craft artists, administrators, and advocates of Vermont’s Studio Craft Movement; VFC Folklorist Gregory Sharrow conducts field interviews in 2007-08

Vermont Woodworking School is founded in a historic barn in Fairfax by Carina Driscoll, Blake Ewoldsen and Bob Fletcher

2008 Frog Hollow Craft Center closes in Manchester
2009

The original Frog Hollow Craft Center closes in Middlebury, a casualty of the economic downturn, leaving just one Frog Hollow location in Burlington

With the development of a system of standards, two new Vermont State Craft Centers are designated, the first since the mid-70s, with the State imprimatur given to the Artisans’ Hand cooperative gallery in Montpelier and the Gallery at the Vault in Springfield

2010

State of Craft is unveiled, with 25 showcase events across the state and a major exhibition at the Bennington Museum; the project’s goal is to document, preserve and interpret the history of the studio craft movement in Vermont from 1960-2010

Vermont Crafts Council celebrates its 20th anniversary