The items that adorn some cabins can be as extraordinary as the getaways themselves. Eschewing the mass-produced and treading off the well-beaten path has its rewards, such as infusing personality into your cherished retreat.
As you can see from this collection of rustic art from Maine craftspeople, New England ingenuity and creativity are alive and well.
Gary Krauss Furniture | East Wilton, Maine
The mountain region of East Wilton, Maine, is home to Gary Krauss’ family business, Native Woods, Inc. His distinctive pieces feature a “live-edge” using bark for one-of-a-kind textures and contrast. The Krauss family painstakingly harvests “low value” logs that would likely become firewood or pulp mill fodder. In an effort to use the entire tree, smaller pieces are fashioned into unique photo frames or passed on to other artisans. “Gary gives these logs new life,” says his wife and business associate, Christine. Each piece is hand-finished with natural oils and hand-rubbed with polyurethane for exceptional smoothness. Website: www.nativewoods.net
Heather Kerner Fiber art | Cannan, Maine
Heather Kerner of Cannan, Maine, shrinks wool fibers to create sculptures, vessels, bags and hats using a coiled wire technique. Carol Cypher features Heather’s unique method in the upcoming book, “The Way We Felt.” The repetitiveness of fiber crafting is meditative to Heather who produces vibrantly colored works, which lend whimsy to their surroundings. Website: www.spiralworksfelt.com
David J. Klenk Furniture | Gray, Maine
David Klenk creates large, custom furniture projects for lawyers’ offices and Maine libraries. But big projects also mean a large supply of short pieces. “I needed something to do with this wood. I wanted it to be useful and something [others] could afford to buy,” says David. Then came the idea to create handy wooden organizers reflecting the classic work totes of early New England. The pieces are made from solid cherry and birds-eye maple with locking miter corners all polished and ready to organize correspondence or your cabin craft project. Website: www.davidjklenk.com
Randy Holden Furniture | Skowhegan, Maine
Randy Holden got his professional start when the northern Maine rafting company that employed his wife needed some rustic furnishings. His signature style immediately emerged. His pieces are so natural that Randy doesn’t plan them as much as they simply evolve. He says, “I don’t turn trees into lumber to make my pieces, I skip that part and work with the wood. I don’t know what it’s going to look like until it’s done, and I can’t make the same piece twice.” Website: www.elegantlytwistedrusticfurniture.com
Jeff Clapp Metalwork & woodwork | Brunswick, Maine
Jeff Clapp, a trained chef and avid woodworker, was moved by a National Geographic story on the discarded oxygen cylinders littering the lower slopes of Mt. Everest. The waste spoke to him like the excess he saw in the food industry. “When you have leftover roast, you make stew. I couldn’t let all this metal go to waste.” Jeff set off for Nepal. Now he makes bells and bowls from the cylinders trimmed with Maine wood. Even the metal shavings find new life as low-cost ornaments. Website: www.bellsfromeverest.com
Julia Ventresco Creations in multiple mediums | Ellsworth, Maine
Julia Ventresco has a small studio in Ellsworth, Maine, not far from Acadia National Park. There she takes materials that would otherwise be thrown away and “up cycles” them into products of equal or better quality. Many of her creations are wearable art or useable crafts such as stationery. “Many people save items for me, and then I think, What could this become? And then I try to add a sense of humor to it,” says Julia. Her website links to her blog and her site where items may be purchased. The bag pictured was created from a recycled feedbag. Website: www.onewomanstudio.com
Mary Kay Spencer Pottery | Litchfield, Maine
The kiln has been firing at this central Maine family business for nearly 25 years. Mary Kay Spencer creates artistic and functional pottery in Central Maine’s Litchfield where she is inspired by everyday living in New England. On the platter pictured, Mary Kay glaze-painted dragonflies onto stoneware after watching so many flit through her garden. Website: www.thepottershouse.com
Lucie B. Amundsen is a writer lucky enough to tromp around the interesting corners of Maine.
Tom Raymond Wood turner | Damariscotta, Maine
While hugging Maine’s famous Route 1, one can drop into Damariscotta to see the intricate work of expert wood turner, Tom Raymond. Better yet, sign up for a class, and he’ll teach you how to run a lathe yourself at the wood turner’s school in town. There he’ll show you the basics of turning bowls that he describes as functional works of art. In Tom’s own creations, he blends up to 20 species of wood per piece incorporating unusual shapes and colors. Website: www.woodturningschool.org/tom_raymond.html
John Goodwin Metalwork | North Yarmouth, Maine
John Goodwin’s passion for metalwork started at the Maine College of Art and has grown into a backyard studio business in North Yarmouth. There he creates trellis, arbors and custom lamps with an organic, sculptural feel. His copper fish have made the biggest splash and are found in the décor of local seafood restaurants. Hand-formed using a hammer, punch and block of wood to create a surface treatment, the fish start as a flat piece of metal and are transformed into a three-dimensional piece of wall art. Website: www.northtownmetal.com