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Them Again?

Hard to believe, but we’re in our 27th year of honoring artisans who make the baskets, floorcloths, folk art, furniture, pottery, textiles, tinware—you get the idea—without which our period homes would look stark and incomplete. (Yes, less clutter would be more authentic but much less satisfying.)

By now, readers who have followed the Directory through the years might recognize the hands of several makers on sight, as their work appears repeatedly on our pages. It might seem like we pick our favorites to photograph year after year, but we don’t.

Instead we rely on antiques dealers and collectors, museum curators and directors who know which colors, designs, dimensions, joinery techniques, and finishes harmonize to produce a masterpiece. Each year our panel of experts changes and grows, making it all the more remarkable that so many artisans consistently earn top marks.

That’s really no surprise given the passion and scholarship that inform their work. Often they have done the cutting-edge research into their craft, such as the Shaker pottery we featured in the June issue that potter Greg Shooner helped identify and piece together.

I am fortunate to have developed friendships with many of these talented folks through the Directory and at shows, where I can see their artistry up close (and sometimes buy a piece). I especially enjoy watching how they coax curious youngsters to pull a spokeshave or shape a mound of clay.

One of my favorite memories is dressing my daughter, Lauren, in period attire so she could spend the day at the side of Linda Brubaker, a master HSEAD painter, who met Lauren at a spring show and invited her to paint alongside her at Mount Vernon in the fall. A decade after that experience, Lauren still proudly displays the little theorem of a peach on velvet she created.

The future of the traditional handcraftsmanship we value so highly rests in the hands of those eager to learn, so when you attend a show or visit a historic site, encourage your children or grandchildren to pick up a hammer or paintbrush. You just might inspire a future Thomas Chippendale.

Along with the historic sites that offer handson classrooms, we laud the artisans who take on apprentices, open their studios for workshops, or travel to crafts schools to share their skills.

Don’t be modest—we want to support your efforts! If you offer any type of traditional, hands-on learning opportunity, let us know. We’ll be happy to share the news by posting the information on our web site.

Jeanmarie Andrews

Executive Editor

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