Artisans on the Green

Cindy Barnard of Melvin Village works on a braided rug during the annual Artisans on the Green event held last week in Center Sandwich.

CENTER SANDWICH — Despite a late-morning downpour, the annual Artisans on the Green event that showcases the work of area craftsmen attracted its usual large crowd this past Thursday.

Since 2009, artisans have gathered on the expansive green in front of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Shop to demonstrate their skills, educate visitors on their creative works and offer their products for sale.

Cindy Barnard of Melvin Village spent the day carefully plaiting strips of wool to make a braided rug.

She learned the craft some 40 years ago from a woman who lived in Sandwich. The community is known for its craftspeople and is considered the birthplace of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, which was founded in 1926.

“All the woolen mills have moved to China,” Barnard said as she twisted the strips into a braid. While woven wool was once easy to find, Barnard said, it has now become both scarce and expensive.

She recently received a windfall of wool after a friend who had helped organize a church rummage sale brought her a number of women’s blazers that had failed to sell. Braiding rugs is a labor-intensive process, but Barnard said she really enjoys it.

What she finds most enjoyable is blending different colors. “You stick a different color in as you’re progressing and it’s always a surprise when you’re finished,” she said.

Barnard was among the more than 50 artisans showcasing their talents ranging from wooden boat building to oil painting.

The Sandwich Children’s Center, a popular attraction at the event since its inception, continued offering a hands-on program for young visitors, including a chance to blow bubbles.

Children visiting the center’s tent also had the opportunity to dip their hands in oobleck, an aptly named gooey mixture of cornstarch and water.

In the adjacent space, fiber artist Diane Johnson displayed the whimsical animal sculptures she creates from soft fluffy wool in a process called felting. She brought along her English Angora rabbit and told visitors how the hair they shed can be used in a variety of craft projects, including felting.

The Sandwich Women’s Club provided lunch at the event with the proceeds supporting the club’s annual education scholarship.