The Hippo


Jul 21, 2019








Studio 550 hosts its 3rd Handmade Holiday Market this weekend. Courtesy photo.

The art of shopping Handmade Holiday Market

Where: Studio 550, 550 Elm St., Manchester
When: Saturday, Nov. 21, noon to 5 p.m.
Contact:, 232-5597
Portsmouth Holiday Arts Tour
When: Friday, Nov. 20, 5 to 8 p.m. (opening night, includes refreshments at most studios); Saturday, Nov. 21, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 22, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Website:, where you can also download maps; signs will be posted at each studio with numbers and balloons to help navigate the driving loop
East Colony Fine Art Pop-up Gallery
Where: Salzburg Square Shopping Center, 292 Route 101, Amherst
When: On view now through Dec. 24, hours Thursdays 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Fridays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Holiday Open House: Thursday, Nov. 19, 4 to 7 p.m.
Broke: The Affordable Arts Fair
Where: Peterborough Town Hall, 1 Grove St., Peterborough
When: Saturday, Nov. 21, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Concert: There’s a concert following at Harlow’s Pub, 3 School St., Peterborough; it’ a 21-plus event and showcases Paper Castles, Doolittle Family and Rick from Pile, tickets $8, show starts at 8 p.m.

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Weekend of arts shopping

By Kelly Sennott

The weekend before Thanksgiving is a big one for buying local art and handmade goods. Here are some local markets, fairs and events to get your holiday shopping started, whatever your pricepoint.

The place to go this weekend in the Queen City is Studio 550’s 3rd Annual Handmade Holiday Market on Saturday, Nov. 21, from noon to 5 p.m. About 15 artists will converge and sell things like handbags, upcycled bicycle part jewelry, hand-bound art books, wooden signs, canvas jewelry, 3-D weaving and naturally found object jewelry. There’s even an artist, Bryan Dwyer, who solders and sells his own geometric glass terrariums.
“I’d like to think the quality of the artist-crafter is higher here because it is a juried show. Since we are limited on space, we can only take the ones who we think fit,” Studio 550 owner Monica Leap said in an email. “There’s also a great variety in prices — people can find things to take home for $2 or $5, or they can spend a little more for something, or someone, really special.”
For the bargain hunter, there’s a table that contains items in which you pay what you think the item’s worth (within reason), with proceeds going CERF, Craft Emergency Relief Fund, which offers money to craftspeople in hardship.
Visitors can also choose pieces from the studio’s 3rd Annual Cup Show, which will be on display through January, and the weaving exhibition with work by Cheryl Holbert. For munchies, Sunshine Scoops Ice Cream Shop and Bakery will bring baked goods, including mini and full-sized pies. Leap hopes for a great turnout of shoppers looking to buy local.
“People understand the movement to support local farms and to buy local food. I support that movement fully, but along the same vein, I love supporting local artisans and buying local for the holidays,” Leap said.
For a more intimate shopping experience, attend the 15th Annual Portsmouth Holiday Arts Tour, which is Friday, Nov. 20, from 5 to 8 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 21, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 22, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at eight Portsmouth studios showcasing 15 artists’ work.
This free, self-guided tour brings you into the places where Seacoast artists create — except that, this weekend, they’ll have transformed their workspaces into comfortable showrooms. Many of the artists — painters, potters, jewelry makers, blacksmiths, printmakers — will also perform demos on weekend days.
Dyanna Smith, a glass jewelry artist, had already begun tidying her workspace above her garage, “reducing the normal artist’s chaos” and readying it for shoppers, at the time of her phone interview. Smith has been an event participant for eight years. Smith said all the studios are fairly close, but cars are required, as some stops sit a few miles from one another. She thinks it’s fun having people in her space, curious about her process and her work, which this year includes colorful glass earrings, necklaces and sculptural art. 
“I’ll be working all weekend, constantly demoing, and talking about my process,” Smith said. “It’s a busy time, but it’s also, you know, an inspirational time. I think I speak for all of us — when we start to gear up for something like an open studio, it really sparks your creative energy, so it can be a really productive time.”
She thinks the event’s more personal than a craft fair.
“It’s really fun to meet people and see friends. It’s different in that it’s a warm experience, and you can really kind of engage and get to know the artist behind what you’re purchasing,” she said.
The East Colony Fine Art artists collaborative might not have a permanent space in downtown Manchester anymore, but they’ve far from given up. The organization hosts a pop-up gallery at the Salzburg Square Shopping Center Nov. 5 through Dec. 24, showcasing 24 artists’ work.
In addition to regular hours, the artists are holding a holiday open house Thursday, Nov. 19, from 4 to 7 p.m., and Black Friday and Small Business Saturday events, which will include door prizes and artist demonstrations in oils, mixed media, collage, fused glass, etc.
The show happens in a vacant storefront, and gifts range from handpainted wine glasses (with dragonflies, horses) to bird cages and items not normally offered except during the holidays, like ornaments and holiday decor. Along one wall is an assortment of 6-inch by 6-inch paintings that all members participated in creating. 
“We want people to be aware of New Hampshire-made items like fine art,” said Elaine Farmer in a phone interview. “There are a lot of gifted, talented artists than you can be purchasing unique, one-of-a-kind gifts from.”
The young, hip place to shop this weekend is Broke: The Affordable Arts Fair, which occurs on Saturday, Nov. 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Peterborough Town Hall and showcases more than 50 artists selling creations for less than $50.
Organized by the Glass Museum, the event is always crowded with people young and old, said Sam Bonacci, Glass Museum board member. Ever year there’s pottery, jewelry, children’s clothing and paintings, but he thinks the products have a more “Etsy” feel. One of his favorite vendors creates sculptures from old porcelain. Many are upcyclers. 
“You also have more pottery, which you don’t think of as being kooky or crazy, but people do all kinds of different firing techniques that you wouldn’t normally see at a traditional craft fair. The artistry is, from my perspective, at another level, and is a little more unique,” Bonacci said.
The event originated in 2008 and has become so popular it’s grossed up to $30,000 in sales in past years. Submissions this year totaled around 100. Most of the artists are from New England and many are local to Peterborough. It tends to draw younger crowds, too, with vendors as young as high school age. 
“We definitely attract younger artists and younger people. That’s kind of the [aim] in keeping that pricepoint down. We want people to be able to afford the art,” he said.  

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