Blog Archives

Westport Community Association’s 60th Anniversary Celebration

Bodacious…

On Sunday, August 16, the Town Hall was dressed for a party — with quilts papering the walls, and arts and crafts decorating the walking space. People were admiring, smiling and saying hello. The Community Church was alive with music. It was a fitting way to pay respects to the the role the Community Association has played through the years in defining the word “community” for our town.

Here’s a peek at the celebration honoring a community institution that has “roots in the rock”…

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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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Westport Island: A Christmas Frame of Mind

December and the Christmas season are underway. Think local – it’s a low-stress option – creative gift ideas are a neighbor away — save a couple of fill ups, and forget the parking mambo.

Westport Community Church at night with Christmas wreathesTo celebrate and say hi to neighbors, the Community Association’s annual Christmas Sing is 7 p.m. Sunday, December 9, at the Westport Community Church. A meet and greet will follow at the Old Town Hall. Bring a donation for the Island’s Food Pantry – organizers are hoping to fill the Pantry for holiday needs.

Now to shopping local…Maybe decorate your house or gift a Christmas keepsake from Jill Cooney’s Island Crafts. Know someone who likes poetry? Hit the internet for a second-hand copy of Jerry Day Mason’s Speaking to Strangers – my coolest book find of the year. Know a writer. Think about a journal from Joelle Webber’s Mermaid Bindery.

Woodcrafts? Bruce & Suzi Whittemore (Studio 78) craft wood coasters, bottle stoppers, and kitchen ware. The bottle stoppers are available at Treats in Wiscasset. And…no one turns wood finer than our own Ken Shepherd, president of Maine Woodturners, where some of his work is showcased.

For foodies who like locally grown fresh greens, how about a couple of windowsill micro-pots of microgreens from Judy Hughes’ MicroMainea? Better yet, put the microgreens in a whimsical pot thrown by Nancy Shaul, Westport Pottery. And, for our friends from away, lobster and fresh seafood are always a hit from the North End Lobster Co-op or Cromwell’s Crustaceans — call Mike, 380-5885, for on-Island delivery. Need help with holiday desserts? Call Daphne’s Cakes and Pies, 882-6652.

If the people in your life are stressed, how about a heated neck wrap to tenderize tense muscles from Ann Cole-Fairfield’s Instant Comfort. Or, take stress relief to the next level with a gift certificate to Sarah Rhinelander’s Westport Island Massage Therapy.

Other options: A scarf or shawl from PS Designs; some notecards from Ann Springhorn; or gift certificates — for dinner at the Squire Tarbox…piano lessons with Carol Blake…or maybe pet sitting from your friend or loved one’s favorite pet sitter…

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Happy Thanksgiving!

A Westport Island Moment of zen…

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Sea Pottery: McCarty Cove “Treasure”

Island “treasures”

While walking the tidal flats of McCarty Cove this past winter with trusty beagle Chloe,I landed on “unburied treasure”. On several occasions, I found old pottery shards alongside low-tide stones and shells. A mystery from the past — could they have come from the nearby ship’s chandlery; better yet, might the shards have come from a shipwreck?…or might the terracotta pieces be remnants from Wiscasset Brick and Pottery, which operated on Birch Point Road in the 1800’s?

Stymied in my own research, I contacted Laurie LaBar, Chief Curator, History and Decorative Arts, Maine State Museum; and this is what she said:

What a fun collection of ‘sea pottery’ you have found. There’s quite a variety of pieces. Because the whole coastal plain has nice deep pockets of iron-rich clay, there were redware makers in pretty much every other town, starting in the early 1800s. Unfortunately, there’s no real way to know whether Wiscasset Brick and Pottery made the terra cotta pieces, unless one had a few intact specimens for comparison, but that’s a strong possibility!

The (redware) industry had pretty well died out (in the late 1800’s ) in favor of more durable stoneware (your 2-gal crock); and later in the century, ironstone (your white shard). If I just had the terra cotta, I’d suggest a mid-1800s date. However, the transfer-printed pieces, together with the stoneware and ironstone, suggest a late-1800s date. Add in that there was a local redware manufactory nearby at that time, and that’s probably your time period.

England produced millions of tons of transfer-printed ceramics for local use and for export. Stoke-on-Trent in North Staffordshire was the center of this industry, as it was until the mid 1900s. The pieces you found suggest to me a typical middle-class household of the area, engaging in what in my archaeology days we called “casual Euro-American dumping practices.” Should you excavate the family privy you might find more pieces of the same pots, or at least of the same services.

That said, the pieces may not be related at all if you found them scattered in disparate places. Of course, they’d still speak to the sort of community one found along the water at the turn of the 20th century, even if they came from several families. If the pieces were found within a 15-20 yard area as you suggest, the pieces are probably all from one family. The shards represent the range of everyday ceramics one family might have.

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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.

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.