CANAAN — Maine Craft Weekend continued Sunday at the Canaan Farmers Hall, where demonstrations and artwork was sold and artisans were celebrated, including Hugh Verrier, an 88-year-old who has invented a new way of using paper and watercolors to create sculptures.

Maine Craft Weekend is an annual statewide tour of craft studios and local business and events meant to celebrate artists and their works.

The weekend’s events, done in concert with American Craft Week, are planned and scheduled by the Maine Crafts Association and Maine Made, the arm of the state Department of Economic & Community Development that seeks to build recognition for Maine products, producers and industries.

Verrier, of Eustis, has been an artist for more than four decades, beginning with wood and stone sculptures and then shifting to watercolor painting after finding sculpting was “not financially rewarding.”

When he made the switch to watercolors, he was mostly doing the paintings under glass, which he found “constricting.”

Now, Verrier creates art of birds and fish through using sculpture and watercolor painting, a process he invented. He gave a brief demonstration of the artistic process at Sunday’s craft event. To create the birds, he uses formed paper and watercolor. The process involves cutting boiling and forming 300-pound paper, and then detailing the creations with watercolor paint.

Hugh Verrier, 88, a sculptor of birds and fish, laughs Sunday during his demonstration at Maine Craft Weekend at the Canaan Farmers Hall in Canaan.

“The paper is very expensive, so you can’t make many mistakes,” he said, adding the 22- by 30-inch paper he uses costs $30 a sheet.

From there, he bends the paper into shape and then lets it dry. Each sculpture, he says, uses up to 14 pieces of paper. When the bird is complete, for example, it is reinforced with sculpture wire and the lightweight piece is put onto an adjustable wall mount. When complete, the watercolor-and-acrylic piece looks metal.

“Sorry, that’s all there is to it,” Verrier said, laughing.

Once he paints the piece with watercolors, he adds a seal to the piece and then goes over the detailing with acrylic paint.

This process, he says, is more enjoyable for him and gives him the opportunity to express his lifelong appreciation for the sea and water birds. It typically takes him one to two weeks to complete one of his sculptures.

“Hugh is very generous for putting so many of his pieces for sale,” said Kathleen Perelka, an artist and planner of the event. “He is an incredible person and he invented this unique process.”

While the spotlight was on Verrier, he took the time to promote work made by other artists, celebrating the rural artists and the different ways they express their mediums.

“We mostly buy from each other at these events,” Perelka said.

Susan Hellewell was also offering demonstrations of her single-stroke technique to create multi-layer designs on canvas.

 

 

Patrons walk Maine Craft Weekend on Sunday at the Canaan Farmers Hall in Canaan.

“I started out with an interest in Chinese calligraphy, so I do individual brush strokes,” Hellewell said. “A lot of people think that they’re stenciled, and I do transparent overlay.”

Hellewell has been creating these pieces since the 1970s and is a self-taught artist. Her work was for sale at the event, and will be featured in other craft events this fall, including at Sugarloaf next weekend, where many artists from Maine Craft Weekend will also be attending.

Sarah B. Coleman of Mainely Antler Baskets weaves a basket Sunday during Maine Craft Weekend at the Canaan Farmers Hall in Canaan.

As spectators filed in and out throughout the day, Perelka said she hoped to see a larger crowd in the future.

“We’re way underattended for what this is. This is really a great show,” Perelka said, noting this was the third year Canaan has hosted an event for Maine Craft Weekend.

The Canaan Farmers Hall will host the 100 for $100 Art Gala Event on Oct. 19, where Verrier’s creations and the works of other artists will be on sale. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Tickets for the event may be purchased on the Farmers Hall website — www.canaanmaine.com.


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