Juried artists demonstrate their beloved craft at Capital Arts Fest

  • Claude Dupuis of Canterbury carves a wooden top using a motor-driven lathe outside the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Headquarters in downtown Concord during the Capital Arts Fest on Saturday. Photos by ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff

  • Squonk Opera performs their Cycle Sonic show during Capital Arts Fest in Concord on Saturday, May 6, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Ethan Clapp paints with acrylics with fellow artists in Bicentennial Square during Capital Arts Fest in Concord on Saturday, May 6, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Traditional basketmaker Jeffrey Gale explains his craft to a crowd outside the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Headquarters in downtown Concord during the Capital Arts Fest on Saturday. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff

  • Wood shavings fly from a wood block as Claude Dupuis of Canterbury demonstrates the process of carving a top for passersby in downtown Concord during the Capital Arts Fest on Saturday.

Monitor staff
Published: 5/6/2017 10:13:16 PM

Wood shavings flew from a block of raw maple which turned symmetrically on a motor-driven lathe. The shavings gathered on the shirt of artist Claude Dupuis of Canterbury as he used a variety of chisels and knives to carve the piece of wood into the desired shape.

Dupuis didn’t have to worry about the water falling lightly from the white tent he’d erected over his wood turning station. He’d come prepared for the gloomy weather on the morning of Concord’s Capital Arts Fest, and he was eager to show children and other passersby his beloved craft.

The woodturning station was one of two artist demonstrations set up early Saturday outside the gallery at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Headquarters at 49 S. Main St. Traditional basketmaker Jeffrey Gale was just feet away from Dupuis on his shaving horse, a traditional workbench used by basketmakers for centuries.

Dupuis and Gale were among several juried members of the league leading demonstrations as part of the daylong festival downtown.

At his small lathe, Dupuis turned a wooden toy top, something he’d crafted only once before. He said he wanted to make something in a short amount of time that he could then give away to those who expressed interest. The top he made in less than a half-hour didn’t spin as well as his first, but he said he had all day to practice.

“When I first started turning, I didn’t consider myself an artist. I’d worked with wood all my life, but an artist?” Dupuis said with great speculation. “No, not me!”

Not until he started making more decorative and intricate pieces did “the artist came out,” he said.

His wife had bought him a woodturning lathe in 2008 so he could make a bed post, and that’s where his story began. Nine years later, he’s still working on the bed post.

“There’s no rush, though,” Dupuis said with a laugh. “You’ve got to take these things in stride.”

While Dupuis has turned wood for just shy of a decade, Gale said basket making is how he’s made a living for the past 34 years after learning the craft as a young man. For Gale, working with 19th-century tools in his workshop in Vermont is the only way to weave. Every part of the basket comes from the white ash trees that grow on and around his property.

Gale’s baskets have been on display at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. He said he has been told that he’s the only full-time basketmaker in the U.S. still using traditional tools and local wood. Most baskets are made from reed that can be purchased at a craft store, he noted.

“Every three or four months, I walk into the woods and select a tree. It’s part of our tradition and our cultural heritage,” he said. “I love basketmaking, and I believe it’s a craft worth preserving.”

(Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 369-3319, adandrea@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @_ADandrea.)




Concord Monitor Office

1 Monitor Drive
Concord,NH 03301
603-224-5301

 

© 2020 Concord Monitor
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy