Maine Craft Weekend draws visitors to Gardiner galleries, demonstrations

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Rebecca Goodale spins a Sunday press wheel while demonstrating the making of relief prints during Maine Craft Weekend at Circling the Square Fine Art Press on Water Street in downtown Gardiner Rich Abrahamson / Morning Sentry

KEEP – With one hand on the large metal wheel to apply just the right amount of pressure, Rebecca Goodale used her hip to push the platform from the 1970s press, which held the wooden plate she had just covered with ink to make an impression. Several visitors watched with interest.

A bright, crisp blue image of two swimmers, one wading through the water up to their hips, the other mid-dive, with only their legs sticking out of the water’s surface, emerged from the other aside on a white sheet of paper, to ooh and ahs of the small audience.

Potter Margaret Melanson shapes a clay bowl on a Sunday potter’s wheel during a demonstration at Maine Craft Weekend on Water Street in downtown Gardiner. Rich Abrahamson / Morning Sentry

The demonstration was part of Maine Craft Weekend.

Karen Adrienne, founder of Circling the Square (CTS) Fine Art Press at Gardiner and a master printer with nearly 40 years of experience, explained that she stumbled across this half-discarded old press a few years ago in a barn. Along with other printing enthusiasts, she removed rust and dirt, put it back in working order, and set it up next to her other press at CTS.

“It was the gold standard,” Adrienne said of the old manual press. “There aren’t many manufacturers anymore. If you can find an old one, it’s like going to heaven.

Over the weekend, artists and artisans from across Maine opened their studios and shops and invited the public to tour them, as part of Maine Craft Weekend. The event was hosted by the Maine Crafts Association in partnership with Maine Made, a state program that strengthens recognition of Maine products.

Gardiner was one of the cities featured this year at Maine Craft Weekend.

CTS Fine Art Press is an open access installation where artists can work independently on their own schedule – they even get their own keys. Fourteen artists are currently working in space. There they often share ideas, techniques and information, and collaborate with other engravers.

Master printmaker Karen Adrienne reveals an intaglio print on Sunday showing the vertebrae of a baby seal while demonstrating the technique using an engraved zinc plate at Circling the Square Fine Art Press during Maine Craft Weekend on Water Street in downtown Gardiner. Rich Abrahamson / Morning Sentry

The 1,700 square foot studio can accommodate artists working in relief, serigraphy, intaglio, pronto, collographies and various monotype and monoimprint processes. The presses and other equipment there, Adrienne and Goodale noted, would be too expensive and too big for many artists to buy on their own.

On Sunday afternoon, Adrienne demonstrated her intaglio technique, using a copper plate with an engraved design of a seal backbone to make a black and white print on thin paper. She said the engravers themselves are a key factor in the final look of the work.

“Regardless of the technique, the wonderful personalities you all have determine the direction in which you can go with the intaglio,” she said. “Your personality, your skills and your disposition that day influences what you do.”

Dozens of artisans exhibited and offered for sale their work at the Majestic Craft Store, also in Gardiner. The store’s Facebook page said there were nearly 400 visitors on Saturday.

Other participating venues and events included Purple Shed Woodworks, Alan Claude Gallery, Cattywampus Studio, Margaret Melanson Pottery, Sebago Lake Distilling and Monkitree.

Potter Margaret Melanson shapes a clay bowl on a pottery wheel Sunday as Barbara Carnegie of Lewiston watches it during a demonstration at Maine Craft Weekend on Water Street in downtown Gardiner. Rich Abrahamson / Morning Sentry


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