Category Archives: Crafts

Toast the New Year

With a Westport Island styled glass of bubbly

wooden glass of bubbly champagneHappy New Year! It’s time to pop the cork on a bottle of champagne and toast family, friends and neighbors that make our world a better place.

A holiday, a season, a celebratory occasion or a unique piece of Maine or Americana is marked on Westport Island by a mailbox finial at the home of Ken Shepherd and Cheryl Anderson. Today, as we celebrate the dawn of a new year, our creative Anderson-Shepherd partnership is marking the day with a glass of bubbly.

Ken Shepherd and Cheryl AndersonKen — an electrical engineer by profession and a highly skilled wood turner by passion — designs and crafts the novelty wood mailbox finials, and Cheryl — a multi-talented craftsperson — paints them. Their creations include: the Boon Island Lighthouse, Mickey Mouse; a train, a plane and a motorboat; a Valentine; a football; Uncle Sam’s, a Puritan’s, a witch’s and a leprechaun’s hat; an American flag; a Thanksgiving Day turkey; Santa Claus; a snowman; an angel; a Christmas tree… the list of fun novelties goes on and on… and always turns heads when passing through the 200 block of the Main Road.

Ken’s father was also a wood crafter, and his grandfather was a watchmaker – a skill he has also mastered. His creative engine never stops; he is always thinking of new ways to create with wood, and is always taken with the challenge of wood varieties and aberrations. Ken is a member of the American Association of Woodturners; a member and former president of the Maine Woodturners; a woodturning teacher and a 21-year volunteer at the Maine Maritime Museum where he also uses his wood crafting talents to enhance displays.

A visit to the Anderson-Shepherd house is like going back in time to Santa’s workshop when everything was made of wood and handcrafted with love – Christmas tree decorations, vases, housewares, goblets, candleholders, fire bellows, and more…

Thank you Ken and Cheryl for sharing your talents and giving us a Westport Island icon that makes me smile.

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Highlighting Westport Island Crafts and Goods

Taking note of local talent

Crossroads CoffeeIf you missed the Westport Island Crafts Show on September 16, just a quick pitch to support our artisanal resources. There were 13 booths this year — seven of which showcased Island talent. Our “home-grown” crafters and artisans were: Ann Cole-Fairfield, Instant Comfort; Pam Shockley, PS Designs; Jill Cooney, Island Crafts; Sandy Besecker, A Little of This and a Little of That; Jeff Foss, Jeff’s Crafts; Steve Arsenault, Crossroads Coffee; and Libby Fairfield, Effing Illustrations. Refreshments were provided by Westport Island Chief Cook and Bottlewasher, Nita Greenleaf.

Instant Comfort specializes in hot/cold comfort packs designed to relieve stress or pain and cool neck ties to keep the exertion of running,
happy craftershiking and biking more comfortable. PS Designs provides fashions, pet toys and children’s cuddle toys in soft fleece. Island Crafts creates quality home decor and collectibles to seasonably decorate your home. A Little of This and a Little of That specializes in quilted items, including totes, gift bags and purses. Jeff’s Crafts repurposes vintage vinyl record centers for distinctive coasters. Crossroads Coffee roasts artisanal coffee blends on Main Road, Westport Island for coffee connoisseurs. And Effing Illustrations‘ Libby Fairfield pens and paints natural science illustrations and still life prints and cards.

Many of Westport Island’s crafters and artisans will be at the 2nd Annual Brunswick Arts & Crafts Show at Coastal Performance Center, 14 Thomas Point Rd. (Cook’s Corner) in Brunswick on October 21 and 22; and at the 24th Annual Made In Maine Christmas Craft Show at Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham on November 18 and 19.

For those who want to support local crafts and businesses “on island”, stay tuned for the continued development of the town website which is planning a directory of your neighbors’ goods and services. And, on September 15, 2018, Westport Island Artisans Guild will celebrate 20 years — plan to be a part of the celebration.

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The Super Bowl Trophy Heads Back to New England

…The Westport Island football has optimistically been waiting

wood crafted football mailbox finialCheryl Anderson has said her husband, Ken Shepherd, sometimes wakes up in the night and heads to his CAD program to bring his wood crafting ideas to life. The latest addition to the Shepherd mailbox finial collection, however, was Cheryl’s idea. In anticipation of the Super Bowl, she suggested a football — which her talented master woodturner husband made happen.

Ken is the craftsman who designs and crafts the objects which adorn the family’s mailbox; and Cheryl is the finish painter. Together, they bring us mailbox toppers with tidings of the seasons. Thank you neighbors. Go Pats!
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Stepping Out of Westport Winter Hibernation

In search of shadows, food and other humans…

In a winter that seemingly has us in training for olympic snow shoveling, today’s sun was a welcome valentine. And thankfully, some Islanders are not deterred by sleet, nor snow, nor blowing winds and have extended themselves to bring the Island a little post-Groundhog, Valentine’s Day cheer.

A quarter of the way down Westport Island, you’ll see master woodturner Ken Shepherd’s Valentine creation. Shepherd’s creations always greet passersby with eye-catching images of the season or the times.

Paul Bonyun, representing the Westport Volunteer Fire Department, and Angie Calvo of Westport, representing the Portland Fire Department, completed the grueling Climb for Clean Air on February 1. They raced up 789 stairs wearing full turnout gear in a vertical race to the top of One Boston Place to raise money for healthy lungs and healthy air. Paul Bonyun with Portland Firefighters, including Angie Calvo Portland Firefighters were a top fundraising team ($6,766); Paul a top fundraising individual ($1,670). Angie completed the race in 12 minutes 52 seconds, and Paul clocked a 16:32 — impressive. (Angie is pictured with fellow Portland Firefighters under the raised arm; Paul on far right)

Joyce Spicer, Nita Greenleaf, Louise SpeeceNita Greenleaf flanked by her daughter Joyce Spicer and friend Louise Speece organized and cooked up a tasty Valentine’s Day dinner at the Town Hall for friends and neighbors to share time and break bread. It was a pork and gravy feast with all the fixings, topped off by an assortment of desserts.

And, on Saturday, February 15, the Community Association sponsored a “crafting bee” with Artisan Jill Cooney. For two dollars and two hours, participants channeled their creativity, chatted with friends and walked off with a sunflower wall hanging.

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Photo of Paul Bonyun with the Portland Firefighters courtesy of Chris Fabian

The Westport Island Quilt: A Piecework Story

Quilt presentation at the Old Town Hall (04/11)

Quilt presentation to the community (04/11)

Stories are told in many ways – ballads, books, ballets…blogs. Westport stories have been told in song, poetry, and prose: on canvas and through the lens. The most recent notable story of the Island took the form of a community quilt completed last year.

Eighteen women: twenty pieces of a story. The artists were women with generational roots on the Island as well as women originally “from away”. All came together and shared their personal pieces of Island inspiration, sewing tips, and mutual encouragement. Although they didn’t start with an overall design, there were no duplicate images crafted. A 19th woman donated muslin to the project. With the deft skills of Jill Cooney and Sandra Besecker, the various pieces were sewn into a whole that provides an inspired narrative of “Island soul”.

The Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Colorado had donated fabrics to the Island’s History Committee which were incorporated into traditional blocks on the reverse side of the quilt. The donated fabrics were reproduced from vintage fabrics on an historic Westport quilt in their collection — adding to the new quilt’s historic significance.

Thank you to those women who shared their time, their artistry, and their inspirations for the benefit of neighbors and the generations to come…

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A Westport Top o’ the Morning

St. Patrick's Day GreetingOnce again, Ken Shepherd, master woodturner, offers up some Island spirit of the day.

The Irish — and Scots — had a notable influence on the early settlement and culture of Lincoln County. Cora Tarbox writes of one such influential Westport family in her recently published history, Westport Island Maine 1605-1972: the McCarty family like others of “Scotch/Irish ancestry…enjoyed music and dance. Fishermen were known to enjoy music and a little dancing after a long day or when a full catch had been obtained. The art of playing an instrument had been passed down from one generation to another. A fiddle was the most common instrument used.” A little fiddling and dancing at the old Town Hall might be an apt celebration of St. Patrick’s Day today — with thoughts of spring that the day portends in these parts…

In the 2000 census, about 15% of Island residents identified themselves as Irish.

Note: Cora Tarbox’s history of Westport Island is available for purchase at the Westport Island Town Office Building.

Tug Pudding or Buffalo Head?

A Page In the Helen M Story

Boats are a fixture of island life. A passion for open water, fishing, sea life, water sports, and nautical crafts attracts a mixture of fascinating life stories here on Westport. Bruce Whittemore, a neighbor and retired Wakefield, MA, fire fighter, is right up there on the “check it out” meter. Although he did not grow up on an island or around boats, he is a woodcraftsman, who decided 20+ years ago that it would be cool to build a tugboat, so he could cruise with his family during summer vacations on Lake Winnipesaukee.

Although the children are now grown and gone, the boat is still a family mission. Bruce and Suzi retired to Westport where they now have more time to pursue their crafting passions, one of which is the tugboat “Helen M.” My husband, Roger, has joined the mission, contributing electrical and problem-solving skills, as well as some assistance with the heavy lifting. Between family and friends, Bruce’s mission to hit the water with the Helen M will be accomplished this summer.

With this in mind, Roger decided the Helen M needed, what he initially believed to be, a “tug pudding.” Contrary to what a friend speculated, a tug pudding is not an edible made with “scrap fish” or “marine grade oily residue.” A tug pudding, also called a bow mustache, is a large, manila rope fender to protect the tug’s bow.

With some internet research, Roger found Barbara Merry at Marlin Spike Artist and commissioned what turned out to be a “collision mat” aka buffalo head — unique to tug boats — which protects the tug’s bow fender or its pudding from wear and tear with the many work missions of a tug.

Barbara Merry is a rope artisan in Wakefield, Rhode Island, who makes nautical puddings and collision mats by hand. She grew up in Newport, CA, around her dad’s wholesale import-export marine hardware business. Through her dad’s business, Barbara became interested in marine knotting. Initially, she focused on macramé, and developed a small crafts business. When macramé went out of vogue, she tried her hand at other fiber arts, but returned to her passion for knotting. Barbara tried to support herself making fishing nets in New Bedford, MA, but soon turned to “splicing,” the art of joining line. Perfecting splicing, because of its specialized applications, is what made her passion a self-supporting avocation.

Barbara Merry has written “The Splicing Handbook,” a reference primer on marine rope splicing. She has taught at the WoodenBoat School in Brooklin, Maine; at the Northeast Maritime Institute — and she may visit Westport Island this summer during the Rockland Boat Show to view her most recent buffalo head decked on the honorable Helen M.

See the handover from Barbara to Roger preceding the buffalo head’s transport to Westport Island, and the presentation to the Helen M’s Captain and First Mate, Bruce and Suzi Whittemore:

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A Westport Valentine

A Westport Valentine courtesy of Ken Shepherd, master woodturner…

A Westport Valentine

Westport Valentine, a Ken Shepherd creation

To see more work from this talented craftsman, click on Ken Shepherd, Maine Woodturner.