Published: January 7, 2003
By Liza Montgomery
No one is better suited to address the enduring issue of competition between craftsmen and the trade than antiques show producer Marilyn Gould. In the November 15 issue of Antiques and The Arts Weekly, (page 70) she writes, “[Contemporary artisans] do not take business away from antiques dealers. Smart buyers…can buy both for different reasons and different uses.
“Those with the bent of a curator…may choose some contemporary work that blends with antiques, but can take the stress of active households,” she continues.
How right she is. Anyone who lives with both antiques and young children knows that beautiful reproductions act as a bridge between what can stand up to stress and what absolutely, positively has to be kept away from “washable” markers, for example, or those frighteningly realistic tool sets made for toddlers.
Not convinced? Gould’s Wilton Historical Society Celebration of American Craftsmanship certainly brings the point home. The 150-exhibitor event made another successful return to the high school Field House November 16-17, and while a cold rain may have kept attendance down on the show’s last day, Saturday’s opening was as busy as ever.
“People are crazy about the show,” Gould commented. “[Saturday] was jammed.” Some exhibitors had sold out completely by Sunday morning.
The craftsmen represented by Wilton’s Celebration keep many of the traditional ways to make furniture, pottery, folk art, textiles and folk art alive. Among the highlights were Richard Grell’s Windsor chairs, and particularly his Windsor triple bow back settee with worn black paint, an outstanding piece of workmanship for this Hudson, Ohio, maker priced at $8,500.
Missed out on the Joseph and Bathsheba Pope valuables chest sold at Christie’s on January 21, 2000, for $2.4 million? Richard Nucci, of Hebron, Conn., offered his accurate copy of the famous cabinet for only $4,200.
Joe Deluca Restorations, of Conestoga, Penn., was quite happy with his sales on Saturday. His booth was dominated by an impressive cherry corner cupboard standing more than seven feet tall, which featured an arched door and wonderful moldings priced at $5,995.
Early American Floorcloths of Claremont, N.H., which offered fabulous alternatives to traditional rugs, was crammed with patrons on Sunday afternoon. Dennis and Sheila Belanger — taking their designs from primitive portraits — stretch, prime and paint sailcloth, finally finishing their “painted carpets” with eight coats of polyurethane, creating a kind of geometric shell. “The colonials originally used the sails from ships to cover their floors,” Sheila told us. “Most didn’t have Oriental rugs.” The Belangers can customize any of their floorcloths, which start at $16 per square foot.
Meticulously painted clocks, cupboards and chests were star attractions at Ironstone Reproductions of Littlestown, Penn., where Emie Murray and Mike Conklin apply the same methods used by Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century craftsmen to their pieces. A beautiful eight-day single chime flame-top, vinegar-grained tall-case clock, a copy of an 1830 Maine creation, represented a long, 14-step process for its creators and was priced at a mere $7,400.
The American Craftsmanship show also featured two special presentations: Folk artist Warren Kimble personally signed his prints for his patrons, and Chris Ohrstrom of Adelphi Paper Hangings demonstrated the process of hand replicating historical wallpapers.
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