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A Sampling of Northeast Country ART

These talented artisans draw inspiration from the scenic splendor around them

By Fran Sigurdsson
Published: February 17, 2011
From quaint New England villages to the Canadian Maritimes, the northeast abounds in scenic vistas. Artisans lucky enough to live along the Atlantic seaboard draw inspiration from its changing seasons and tides, native wildlife, lakes and peaks. The nine craftspeople featured here create some of the most beautiful and unique cabin-worthy items we’ve seen.  

Photo by Jeff Soderbergh
Jeff Soderbergh
Tables | Newport, R.I.

Celebrate every cabin meal on a beautiful rustic table by Jeff Soderbergh. Jeff uses hand tools to craft unique pieces from reclaimed wood. The harvest table pictured here incorporates vintage pine rafters and beams from the Vanderbilt family stable at Sandy Point Farm, R.I. Timbers show kerf (saw) marks from the original milling. “Kerf marks are what I look for; they make a beautiful pattern on the top of the table,” says Jeff. Tables are custom-sized, up to 13 feet long. Mirrors, candelabras, breadboards and headboards are one of a kind.

Photo by Shari MacLeod
Shari MacLeod
Reed Baskets | Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Corral issues of Cabin Life, or stash guest towels in one of Shari MacLeod’s sturdy reed baskets. Growing up in a family of artisans – quilters, rug hookers, painters, furniture makers, house builders – Shari seemed destined to create with her hands. “I like the challenge of incorporating gathered materials from plants to stones in my baskets,” she says. Cape Breton Island never ceases to inspire, from the mossy woods behind Shari’s studio to the cormorants spied on her short ferry commute.
Photo by Urve Manuel
Urve Manuel
Glass | Gillams, Newfoundland

Urve Manuel’s glass art reflects her love of nature and the outdoors. The former firefighter and sea-kayak guide creates leaded glass panels and windows, fused glass sculpture and dishware. “My art allows me to share what gives me such joy,” says Urve. Visitors to her Gillams, Newfoundland studio may encounter dory-shaped gravy boats amidst shimmering platters of iridescent squid, or a herd of freestanding glass caribou. “The way glass interacts with light makes it come alive and change throughout the day,” says Urve.
Photo by Ian Ingersoll
Ian Ingersoll
Furniture | West Cornwall, Conn.

Ian Ingersoll’s Shaker-inspired furniture is, we daresay, simply divine. A Connecticut Yankee (his ancestors arrived on the Mayflower), Ian embraces the region’s Shaker heritage. At his workshop, a former tollhouse by a covered bridge, Ian builds classic and contemporary pieces in hardwoods and tiger maple – the local specialty wood. His cabinets, chests (like the one below) and chairs grace cabins across the country. “We cater to different venues and environments,” says Ian.

Photo by Dave Little
Dave Little
Blacksmith | Meredith, N.H.

Dave Little’s love for the outdoors stems from boyhood summers at his great-grandfather’s lake property in New Hampshire. Introduced to blacksmithing at summer camp, Dave was thrilled to discover on the property a working forge that his great-grandfather had fired in his boat-building trade. The oak-and-acorn fireplace screen pictured above shows Dave’s flair for reinterpreting nature in metal. Dave also makes andirons, drapery rods, pinecone beds and more – all customized to your design.

Photo by Erica Pfister
Erica Pfister
Textiles | Unity, N.H.

Erica Pfister’s rugs and pillows keep a cabin warm and cozy. The earthy colors echo the seasons. In autumn, Erica favors browns and oranges she extracts from black walnut and madder root. Spring and summer, the reds, purples and greens of cochineal, indigo and weld predominate. Erica weaves the hand-dyed Irish linen and wool on a floor loom using a traditional Norwegian Krokbragd (crooked path) design. “This technique enables me to creatively combine color and design, producing durable rugs suitable for contemporary or traditional interiors,” she notes.

Photo by Janna Ugone
Janna Ugone
Lighting | City, Mass.

Janna Ugone’s mixed-media lighting fuses her jeweler background with a love of nature. She and business partner Justin Thomas are woodland gardeners, hikers and birdwatchers. And both have twin brothers who are fishermen – hence the “twin fish” shade pictured here. Choose the base: a copper stem set in Vermont slate or ceramic that’s cast, glazed and fired in Ugone & Thomas’ Massachusetts studio. Top the base with a ceramic shade or a parchment giclee print. Ceiling and pendant fixtures, sconces and switch plates are also available.
Photo by Pamela Druhen
Pamela Druhen
Quilts | Northfield, Vt.

From Vermont’s fields and mountains to the wilderness of Alaska, Pamela Druhen expresses the rhythms of nature through fabric and thread. “My goal as an artist is to bring the viewer into a personal relationship with the landscape,” says the award-winning quilter. Some of Pamela’s quilt hangings focus on a single aspect like a waterlily and its reflection, or tree shadows on an old barn in the midwinter sun. Others, like “Spring Thaw” pictured here, depict a charming scene.

Photo by Elaine Diamond
Elaine Diamond
Ceramics | Morrisville, Vt.

“There is no better place to live or visit during fall foliage than Vermont,” says ceramic artist Elaine Diamond. Can’t make the trip? Take a leaf from Elaine’s book – er, bowl.  Elaine starts each colorful leaf bowl and dish by pressing actual leaves into clay. She then curves the edges, adding clay stems for handles. Elaine also makes wheel-thrown and hand-built stoneware teapots, platters and vessels. (A small acorn-and-leaf decorated pitcher is perfect for Vermont maple syrup.) 

Frequent contributor Fran Sigurdsson crafts in self-defense. (Otherwise, grapevine would cover her Adirondack lakehome.)  Her advice? “When life hands you grapevine, make wreaths.”

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