The Hippo


Jul 22, 2019








Artwork by Glen MacInnis, a potter participating in the League fair this week. Glen MacInnis photo.

New features at the fair

Children’s Day at the Fair: Wednesday, Aug. 10, featuring singalongs with musician Amy Connelly, a mime and face painting
Tasting Tent: Food and drink for sample from Fuller’s Sugarhouse, Cabot Cheese, LaBelle Winery and King Arthur Flour
Lunch & Learn: Lunch with a master craftsman
Live music: All week long
The Artist’s Gift: Starting this year, a percentage of purchased gifts will be donated to the League’s Annual Fund and League’s Emergency Relief Fund, which supports craftspeople in need
Attend the 83rd Annual League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Fair
Where: Mount Sunapee Resort, 1398 Route 103, Newbury
When: Saturday, Aug. 6, through Sunday, Aug. 14, daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: $12
What: The event regularly draws more than 25,000 guests and features more than 350 represented in the form of pottery, jewelry, glass, prints, clothes, furniture, etc. There are also daily craft demonstrations, workshops and fine craft exhibitions like “Living with Craft,” displaying pieces arranged in cohesive room displays, and “CraftWear,” which offers traditional and avant-garde jewelry and hand-crafted wearables. There’s also an outdoor sculpture garden. 

Busy at work
MacInnis on turtles and the League fair

By Kelly Sennott

 If you want to find Glen MacInnis at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Fair this week, look for his ceramic turtles, which will be all over his booth — after 15 years, his clients still haven’t tired of them, and neither has he. 

“But don’t buy me any turtle paperweights or knicknacks!” he said, laughing, during an interview at the studio weeks before the fair. “I don’t need anymore!”
MacInnis spent many long spring and summer days crafting the turtles in his Auburn workshop, which is located on a hill that looks down on Lake Massabesic. 
“I’m not much of an indoorsman,” he said, gesturing to his shady outdoor studio space, and down at the lake, where his six kayaks sit on the shore. “So I get a lot more done in the summertime when I’m out here.”
MacInnis goes out on the water or through the trails near his house whenever he needs a break or inspiration. His recently painted turtle sculpture, nicknamed Speedy, is a depiction of a real-life one he found nearby.
At the time of the interview, he was finishing the last of his commissions before the show. There was still a lot of work to do — but that’s standard among League artists in the weeks leading up to the fair.
“I’ve been driven to the absolute brink of insanity,” he said. “It’s a long show — nine days. Most people don’t realize how brutal it is. It takes a year to get ready for it.”
MacInnis grew up in Manchester and picked up pottery at Notre Dame College (though he suspects he’s the only potter who came out of the program). After participating in the fair for more than 20 years now, it’s become a “big, tribal gathering.” 
“Because I grew up in the area, it’s this big combination of a family reunion, a class reunion, a wedding and a funeral. Everyone I know uses it as an excuse to come visit. It’s absolutely mind-boggling how many people I end up talking to. There are thousands! Every client I’ve ever had. It’s really quite an event for me,” MacInnis said.
Most of what he’ll have the day of the fair will be turtles. His first designs were simpler, inspired by the snapping turtles he used to find while wandering New Hampshire and a viral National Geographic photo of a baby turtle sticking its tongue out. Those first pieces sold well enough, but he was at first uncertain if there was a market for more.
“One summer, after my wife had quit her job, we said, let’s just sit around making turtles,” MacInnis said. “We went up to the [League] show and sold all of them the first day. Talk about intense! ... So I have just been making turtles ever since.”
Fifteen years later, his designs are now covered with intricacies involving lots of glaze and detail work. At first glance, they might pass as the real thing. A few sat on his work table sporting multi-colored shells and textured skin and had just come out of the kiln. MacInnis was happy with the result; this point in the process is “like Christmas,” he said.
“It’s kind of like breeding puppies. Everything is handmade, so there’s no way it’s going to come out exactly the same,” he said. “You just hope for the best.”
MacInnis doesn’t participate in as many shows as he used to — most of the time, he’s responding to commissions and sending artwork to clients directly. Often it’s just as expensive to ship the work as it is to deliver it in person, so the critters have also provided plentiful travel opportunities.
“I’ll just bring the [sculpture] on as a carry-on. I went to Austin a couple summers ago. I’ve been out west. I go everywhere delivering turtles,” he said. (He often meets people in unassuming parking lots and exchanges the turtles, wrapped up in brown paper packages, for cash; he suspects this activity looks suspicious on security cameras.)
The League show is his main event.
“It’s really the only place where you could see that amount of work. Normally I make them, and people pick them up as soon as they’re done,” he said. 

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