MEREDITH — For more than a decade, the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen has presented "NH Open Doors Weekend," which encouraged its members to welcome the public into their studios, galleries and kitchens, to allow patrons of fine arts and crafts to see where and how the products are made, and to meet the people who create them. The success of the Open Doors Weekend, held in the fall during foliage season, has inspired the League to expand the event by adding a spring weekend. This weekend, April 9 and 10, League members across the state will be opening their doors to people who want to learn more about what they do.
Kate Sussman, operations manager for the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, said that many members have signed up to participate, despite the fact the spring event is in its first year.
"We're really pleased," she said, adding that the two Open Doors events, about six months apart from one another, should get shoppers in the habit of visiting different craftspeople each fall and spring.
About a dozen Lakes Region craftsmen are listed on the nhopendoors.com site, and many of them will be presenting at the Arts Collaborative space, located at 5 Winona Road in Meredith.
The Arts Collaborative was started by David and Heidi Little, who each pursue their own creative endeavors at the space. On the first floor, Heidi, a mixed media artist, creates her art as well as leads art classes.
Upstairs, David creates and showcases furniture and decorative pieces he makes out of his forged iron in collaboration with woodworkers.
David grew up outside of Boston, but spent childhood summers at his great grandfather's lake property in the Lakes Region. Later, at a summer camp in Holderness, he was exposed to his first blacksmith shop.
"When I touched a hammer to hot iron when I was a teenager, I was hooked," he said.
While his early work was what he called "traditional" wrought iron furniture, he soon began to develop his personal style, incorporating natural forms and patterns in his iron work. As he became interested in this aesthetic, his customer tastes did as well, keeping him busy with custom orders.
"I've never grown tired of it. I look around outside and there's always a new, natural detail for me to interpret."
David enjoys working with other local artisans, such as Peter Bloch, a wood turner who shapes shades for David's lamps, and with Steven Hayden, an artist whose creations range from wood furniture to large-scale metal sculptures.
Hayden, a California native who has lived in Meredith since 1999, has developed his own signature, a technique for working with copper that he calls "flame painting." Hayden uses a type of blowtorch that allows for a very accurate mixture of oxygen and either propane or acetylene, which allows Hayden to control what kind of oxides are created on the surface of the copper.
"It has gone through a huge development in the last 10 years or so as I've figured out how to use it in a meaningful way. When I first started playing with the technique, I had no idea where it would lead," he said. He now can create a broad range of colors, including red, purple, blue and earth tones. "The palette is pretty amazing."
Hayden travels up and down the East Coast to display his work. With NH Open Doors, he gets the chance to share his passion with his neighbors.
"It's really nice to have this event and stay close to home and meet folks in this area," he said.
At the Arts Collaborative, visitors won't just be spectators, as Heidi plans to have a small art project for them to try. "My idea is to put some materials in their hands and have them make something," she said.
Also at the Arts Collaborative this weekend will be fabric artist Natalie Hebden, with Full Moon Fashions. Genuine Local, a company that makes sauces next door, will be barbecuing for the event.
"I think this is going to be a great weekend, we are looking forward to it," said David.
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