It began with a simple idea; bring the hidden work of craftsmen to the public eye. During the Great Depression this was the mission of the League of NH Craftsmen; to support and expose the great craftsmen here in New Hampshire. In 2015 the League continues their mission by opening another gallery to showcase craft which I am proud to have had a part in. Follow this blog series to see some of my design ideas and for the final unveiling of this new gallery around the first of February!
In the mid-1920’s of rural New Hampshire when crafting what you needed by hand was a home art, this form of functional beauty was recognized and a store was opened to showcase the work. A league of craftsmen was formed which eventually became todays League of NH Craftsmen that hosts seven galleries, craft education centers and an internationally acclaimed craftsmen’s faire. Their newest gallery is being planned to open at the Hooksett visitors rest area along I93 and I had the pleasure of designing the space.
I follow the traditions of those early craftsmen as you may have noticed throughout the history of this blog. In the same scrappy way, I exercise my artistic expression through many avenues, crafting what I see in my mind’s eye with the use of my hands and limited tools. (My arthritis will testify to that!) So as a juried member of the League when presented with the opportunity to design the interior of this new LNHC store, my old-fashioned ways were embraced. No Autocad; just sketches and discussions and visual representations. This is the League at it’s best; recognizing the quirky craftsmen’s mind and letting us execute our ideas in our individual way. [this sounds like another topic for a blog post!]
The back story: The League was approached by the builder of the new visitors rest stop in Hooksett, NH to be part of his retail vision; a sampling of NH-made goods in a microcosm representation of New Hampshire for visitors entering the state on I93. LNHC embraced the idea for this new type of craftsmen’s gallery; a microcosm of its own self as a way to further educate the public to our nationally known fine craft. So committee was formed who worked diligently for months on end to make this vision become reality.
The store space presented a design challenge; only 300 square feet to represent not only the 800+ juried members but the existing larger galleries. The negotiations began long ago in the spring of 2014 when there was no store space even framed yet; architectural plans were subject to change, actual measurements were unclear, lighting and windows were unknown and there was no way to visualize.
But these were our guiding design principles:
- Educate and entice the eye of the customer with carry-home sized craft while showcasing larger craft as a backdrop to lead them to the larger gallery spaces.
- Showcase all the forms of craft that the League supports; jewelry, metal, glass, clay, wood, paper and fiber.
- Have the fixtures support the feel of a hand-crafted studio while still allowing for modern technology that allows us to bring the work to the public.
- Have the colors used enhance the many varieties of work that will be displayed.
So I just made a stab at what we might need. These were some of the initial sketches.
Terri Wiltse, the League’s operation manager, and myself on one of our first trips to the site.
Watch for the next posts to see how the plans developed.