What Maine Craft Means to Me
by Susan Joy Sager
As both an author of two business books for craftspeople and a teacher of professional development workshops for artists and craftspeople, promoting Maine crafts has been a focus of much of my adult life. What I find most meaningful are the collection of stories that form the community we refer to when we say Maine crafts.
In addition to stories about individual craftspeople and their work, the stories of Maine crafts carried out by the organizations and schools around the state are also very meaningful to me. Places like the New England School of Metalwork in Auburn, Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Newcastle, Maine Fiberarts in Topsham, Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle are places that are unique to Maine that each have their own stories to tell. The creativity and ingenuity of Maine craftspeople and the organizations they have founded have helped to create an idyllic community here that aptly echoes the billboard visitors read when they enter the state: Maine, the way life should be.
The story of Maine Crafts Association (MCA) is worth telling. I have been a member of MCA since 1988 and have watched the organization ebb and flow to become the guiding force it is in the state today. Who knew back when the office was in Deer Isle there would be not one but two shops in Gardiner and Portland? Who thought when MCA offered the first juried Portland Craft Show at the Holiday Inn in Portland that MCA would later merge with the Maine Craft Guild and become a formal part of offering multiple juried shows around the state? Who could have anticipated the importance of the Craft Apprentice Program pairing master craftspeople with those a rung or two behind on the ladder to lend a helping hand? Who would have thought that SHOP Maine Craft, the online shop and gallery, would provide a venue for sales during the pandemic? All of these things and more were just a glimmer of hope when the organization was founded by a group of dedicated craftspeople back in the 80’s.
Now, imagine what may be next… and then join with others to help make new dreams come true as we all work together to carry on the tradition of promoting the beloved community we call Maine crafts!
What Maine Craft Means to Me Essay Series invites you to explore the many intersections and layers of craft, people and time in Maine through the words of those with deep connections to our state and our field.
The Maine Crafts Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts organization supporting craft artists by providing educational, marketing and retail opportunities. Our ability to accomplish our mission and help artists thrive is reliant on individual contributions.