Mainely craft: Inside Windsor Chairmakers

Lined up Windsor chairs in a variety of finishes at Windsor Chairmakers, Lincolnville, ME

Lined up Windsor chairs in a variety of finishes at Windsor Chairmakers, Lincolnville, ME

Touring Maine doesn’t only mean frequenting tourist shops filled with lobster magnets, moose-shaped chocolates, and blueberry muffin mixes.  It also means, at least for us, looking for quality products designed and created by local craftsmen.  So you can imagine that Windsor Chairmakers in Lincolnville, Maine, was quite the find.

A light-filled showroom filled with custom tables, chairs, and stools of varying heights at Windsor Chairmakers

A light-filled showroom filled with custom tables, chairs, and stools of varying heights at Windsor Chairmakers

With a passion for fine craftmanship and a love of woodworking, Jim Brown and his wife Nance founded the business of building furniture to a customer’s specs, one piece at a time, in 1987.  Since Jim’s death in 2015, Nance has continued the tradition of using quality wood and traditional building methods to provide some of the finest furniture in the area.

Nance Brown, owner of Windsor Chairmakers, shared details about custom designs and finishes used by the craftsmen she employs.

Nance Brown, owner of Windsor Chairmakers, shared details about custom designs and finishes used by the craftsmen she employs.

When you walk in the front door, you immediately know this is a place for quality.  Hand-stenciled white walls and painted wood floors form the perfect backdrop for custom tables, highboys, pencil post beds, and the like. And the tasteful decor continues all through this house-turned-showroom.

White walls and floors form the perfect backdrop for Shaker and Colonial designs.

White walls and floors form the perfect backdrop for Shaker and Colonial designs.

According to Nance, Jim Brown knew a thing or two about comfortable chairs.  He talked to people, even observed them as they sat.  He wanted to see if he could make a seat that would conform comfortably to the body while fitting the back with spindles that “give.” Jim succeeded, in our estimation.  And so we did a lot of sitting.

Perfectly engineered for comfortable sitting.

Perfectly engineered for comfortable sitting.

Custom finishes are another perk at Windsor Chairmakers where craftsmen mix their own dyes and traditional milk paints to create custom hues for any piece.

Hand-mixed paints on the shelves at Windsor Chairmakers

Hand-mixed paints on the shelves at Windsor Chairmakers

You can request antiquing — light, medium, or heavy — to enhance the aged look of a piece. Or just allow the natural graining to show through.

Wood graining makes this highboy even more special.

Wood graining makes this highboy even more special.

We strolled through the showroom, noting collections of old wood planes, sailboats that looked right at home, and authentic room settings showing off hand-crafted furniture.

But perhaps the best feature of our entire visit was the conversation with Nance, the owner who spoke lovingly of what all of the craftsmen attempt to do at Windsor Chairmakers:  please the customer with hand-crafted pieces that will give years of pleasure in a home anywhere they can ship it to.

Custom sideboard can be built to your specifications.

Custom sideboard can be built to your specifications.

If you’re driving Route 1 near Lincolnville, stop by and take a look.  We guarantee you’ll want to “sit a spell.”

For more information:

Windsor Chairmakers, 2596 Atlantic Highway on US Route 1, Lincolnville, ME 04849; 207.789.5188.

 

 

Posted in Autumn Down East, Maine, Retail Shops | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

WPC: The temporary orange of sunrise in Maine

First glow of sunrise at Castine harbor with deep orange colors and a hint of fog.

First glow of sunrise at Castine harbor with deep orange colors and a hint of fog.

Our stay in Castine, Maine afforded us a scant view of the harbor if we stood on tiptoe in the upstairs bedroom and peered out the window. But even that was enough to alert us to the mood of the morning.  If we could see the harbor bathed in orange light, we worked quickly, throwing on jeans and fleeces to hurry down to the waterfront.  After all, the show wouldn’t wait for us.

All sunrise watchers know the temporary nature of the event.  And that holds in Castine as well as at the beach, in the mountains, or in a neighborhood.  It just doesn’t last long.  Or at least not long enough.

From dark orange to lighter yellow-orange, the temporary nature of sunrises creates a show of its own.

From dark orange to lighter yellow-orange, the temporary nature of sunrises creates a show of its own.

The first deep orange glow seemingly turns pale in an instant.  But what you watch for is the sequence of orange gradations moving from dark to light one shade at a time. Boats change colors.  Birds lighten up.  And you find yourself scanning the landscape to take it all in.

A boat is silhouetted by the orange-turned-pink sunrise in Castine, Maine.

A boat is silhouetted by the orange-turned-pink sunrise in Castine, Maine.

In about half an hour, the warm reddish orange glow of sunrise in Castine turns to tangerine and then to melon before the sun’s golden rays peek over the horizon.  And the water, awash in oranges and roses and yellows, finally turns to blue as boats get on with the business of the day.

Facing the day, awash in morning light:  the Maine Maritime Academy teaching boat in Castine harbor

Facing the day, awash in morning light: the Maine Maritime Academy teaching boat in Castine harbor

There’s nothing to do when it’s over except hope for a repeat performance the next day.  It’s all so temporary!

For more temporary scenes, go to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Temporary.  

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Mainely fog: Mystery morning at Castine harbor

The view from Acadia Dock in Castine, Maine on an unexpectedly foggy morning.

The view from Acadia Dock in Castine, Maine on an unexpectedly foggy morning.

Before I started taking pictures so fervently during our travels, I thought that a foggy day would be an unfortunate happenstance.  But a true photography expert who vacations with us at Pawleys Island each summer told me he welcomes foggy mornings, describing the gift of fog as “a godsend.” “Fog,” he said, “is something we can’t duplicate or even plan to see, an unexpected gift from heaven.”

Each morning, a group of guys meets at the dock in Castine to greet the sunrise -- or, in this case, the morning fog.

Each morning, a group of guys meets at the dock in Castine to greet the sunrise — or, in this case, the morning fog.

Each morning we stayed in Castine, Maine, I was up before dawn, anxious to watch the sky turn orange, then pink, then blue as the sun rose and bathed the harbor in light.  It became a ritual of sorts, as I talked with some of the locals who met at Acadia Dock each morning and watched the day unfold.  But one morning, we received that “godsend” my friend at the beach told me about:  gray, all-encompassing fog.

Boats appeared moody and lonely as fog isolated them in my camera’s eye where they competed with nothing else on the horizon. The dock became mysterious as familiar regulars — like boats tethered at the dock and the usual lineup of larger vessels — were enshrouded.

 

Waiting to launch: boats at Castine.

Waiting to launch: boats at Castine.

Even the closed-for-the-summer Yacht Club dock appeared as a walkway to parts unknown.  A movie set in the making perhaps.

The long dock at Castine's Yacht Club.

The long dock at Castine’s Yacht Club.

And a glance to my left and then to my right revealed two welcome views.  On my left, I could make out the other side of Acadia Dock with the Maine Marine Academy tugboat on the far left of the lineup.

The view from Castine Yacht Club of Acadia Dock enshrouded in fog.

The view from Castine Yacht Club of Acadia Dock enshrouded in fog.

On the right, gray shingled houses with their reflections shimmering beneath them, awaited the unfolding of day.

Houses along Castine's waterfront as seen from the Yacht Club dock.

Houses along Castine’s waterfront as seen from the Yacht Club dock.

But the more I looked, the more I noticed something I didn’t expect to see so clearly — the color red.  The juxtaposition of one single red boat added a focal point to this already intriguing lineup of waterside homes and sheds. And the photo is now one of my favorite from a month of snapping sunrises in Maine.

One red boat stands ready on a foggy morning in Castine.

One red boat stands ready on a foggy morning in Castine.

The next time I’m in Castine peering out from the bedroom window to see what kind of day is in store, I’ll grab the camera even faster if I see gray skies.  As fleeting as foggy mornings can be, I want to catch that “godsend” before the lift begins!

— Rusha Sams

For more on our month-long trip to Maine, click onto Travel Series: Autumn Down East.  And then share with us what you’ve enjoyed most about the lovely state of Maine.

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WPC: Harbor peek in Castine, Maine

A reflection at the waterfront in Castine, Maine offers a glimpse of morning light on still water.

A reflection at the waterfront in Castine, Maine offers a glimpse of morning light on still water.

Sometimes a telephoto lens gives you just a peek of the bigger picture.  And that’s what I saw from Acadia Dock at Castine  — a reflection in still waters right before sunrise.  Just a glimpse of the whole, of course.  The big picture opened up a whole new vista: a dock washed in early-morning pinks that would later fade away to bright sun.  But, oh, what a peek to start the day!

Right before sunrise at the waterfront: Castine, Maine.

Almost sunrise at the waterfront: Castine, Maine.

More entries in this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Peek await you.

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Create a spooky house using distressedfx

It all happened quite by accident.  Bert and I were riding around the area near Stockton Springs, Maine, taking pictures of stately, old New England clapboard houses.  We love plain homes best, but often point out to each other houses with unique architectural details — you know, like arches and corbels and odd-shaped windows.

Recently, I downloaded an app called distressedfx, created some artsy pictures using the simple click operations, and then posted them on social media.  I thought, why not make this gothic white house a little creepy using distressedfx?  I snapped the picture and played with the app.  And in a matter of minutes, a simple picture of a grand old house  became a haunted mansion complete with flying creatures and creepy lighting.

My favorite spooky house for Halloween, with the help of distressedfx.

Want a creepy house for Halloween?  Here’s how you do it.

First, download the distressedfx app to your phone.  

2.  Then take a picture of a house.  It doesn’t have to be a spooky house to begin with . . . just a normal house, but one with good bones and a strong presence.

This home and attached tourist court was closed for the winter. But it was a lovely candidate for a turning a photo into a piece of art with distressedfx.

3.  Try a simple color filter first.  But if you don’t like it, you just delete and go back to the original.

House photo with only a color filter from distressedfx.

House photo with only a color filter from distressedfx.

4.  Add a distressing filter to add texture to your photo.  This one will really “age” the home.

5.  If you wish, add birds!  That’s right, birds — a flock or a few.  And move them to the position you like best.

This photo has a color filter, textured overlay, and additional birds from distressedfx.

This photo has a color filter, textured overlay, and additional birds from distressedfx.

6.  Adjust light, color, and intensity with effects as strong or as mild as you wish.

And here’s my final product.  I eliminated the color filter but left the texture.  Just a few birds looks frightening enough.

And this is the final product — after several changes. (How fun is this!)

Post your creation on social media and wish your peeps a Happy Halloween with a spooky house you made yourself! Enjoy!

–Rusha Sams

For more information:

Watch the YouTube video on distressedfx.

Posted in Autumn Down East, Maine, Photography, Travel | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rounded

Maine’s got curves and rounds, so we’re sharing a few for this week’s  Weekly Photo Challenge:  Rounded.

A stack of pumpkins at the front door of Newcastle Inn in Newcastle, Maine

A bright orange life preserver at Searsport harborA potter rounds the bottom of a vase at Mainely Pottery on Route 1.

And who doesn’t love those round Whoopie Pies that make us all a little rounder?  From Making Smiles in Boothbay Harbor.

For more shots of rounds and curves, click on Weekly Photo Challenge:  Rounded.

 

Posted in Autumn Down East, Maine, Photography, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , | 22 Comments

 Mainely Art: Three places we loved in Boothbay region

 

Nautical painting by Jessica Ives

In Maine, art is all around.  From colorful harbors that shimmer by day to pristine white houses standing alone near fields of wild blueberries.  Artists flock to the region for inspiration, and those of us who love to shop are rewarded with delightful renditions of what artists see and, in turn, share with us.  In one day alone, we found three places we’d love to see again in Boothbay Harbor and Edgecomb.

Gleason Fine Art

31 Townsend Avenue, Boothbay Harbor

Perhaps it was the sculpture outside that led us into this attractive gallery filled with local contemporary art, but it was the quality and the artful display of paintings that kept us there.  Located in a restored 19th-century farmhouse in Boothbay Harbor, Gleason Fine Art showcases some of the region’s best, and we were drawn in immediately to a scene from Monhegan by Peter Sculthorpe that literally took our breath away.  Hanging in the entrance hall, the piece defines what Sculthorpe senses and then shares through art — the dreamlike, almost all-alone feeling you get when you’re in Maine on Monhegan Island. And the painting sets the tone for the Gleason gallery.

Monhegan Landing, Sunset by Peter Sculthorpe, oil 36" by 50"

Monhegan Landing, Sunset by Peter Sculthorpe, oil 36″ by 50″

White walls form the perfect backdrop for the variety you see at Gleason, and you move through the gallery as you would in a home furnished with tasteful Oriental rugs and quality art.

Art on display at Gleason Fine Art, Boothbay Harbor

Art on display at Gleason Fine Art, Boothbay Harbor

We were familiar — well, at least a little bit — with the work of Kevin Beers from our stay at Spruce Point Inn where a number of his clear-colored paintings of the Monhegan Light hang.  His paintings inspired us to travel to Monhegan Island (and write a post that we’ll be sharing soon.)

Dory Geometry by Kevin Beers, oil 40" by 40"

Dory Geometry by Kevin Beers, oil 40″ by 40″

Among the traditional colors of Maine homes and landscapes, though, were the fresh, new colors of Henry Isaacs’ work.  An artist living in the Cranberry Islands, Isaacs offers a refreshing take on the usual harbor scenes with lively pastel colors and broadly impressionistic brush strokes.

Off Owls Head by Henry Isaacs, oil 20" by 40"

Off Owls Head by Henry Isaacs, oil 20″ by 40″

Be sure to check out Gleason’s website for more contemporary art as well as 19th and 20th century acquisitions.  But if you’re in Boothbay Harbor, don’t miss the opportunity to view (and purchase, too) some of the region’s best art.

Alison Evans Ceramics

93 Townsend Avenue, Boothbay Harbor

You just may get lucky, as we did, to see Alison Evans herself crafting dinnerware and tabletop accessories using natural shapes of coastal life in her shop, Ae Home.

Alison Evans at work at Ae Home in Boothbay Harbor

Ceramicist Alison Evans at work at Ae Home in Boothbay Harbor

As we learned later, she also owns Ae Gallery in Yarmouth, but the place in Boothbay suited us just fine with retail displays and a place for Alison and company to work their magic right there in the shop.

Display at Ae Home in Boothbay Harbor

Display at Ae Home in Boothbay Harbor

Display in front, work space in the back: Ae Home in Boothbay Harbor

Display in front, work space in the back: Ae Home in Boothbay Harbor

According to the brochure you get with every purchase (and yes, we’re bringing something home with us!), the “work is hand molded and hand glazed, making each piece unique.” One firing turns pieces into bisqueware which are then glazed by the artists.  A second firing liquefies the glaze causing crystals to grow and form little detailed spots that even the makers of this ware can’t predict how they’ll turn out.

Beautiful glazing makes each piece unique at Alison Evans Ceramics

Beautiful glazing makes each piece unique at Alison Evans Ceramics

Needless to say, each piece is unique. And it’s not just the “spotty” pieces that make you want to touch and hold.  Oversized molded bowls and platters caught our attention for their unique forms and representations of nature’s creations.

Bowl from Alison Evans Ceramics

Bowl from Alison Evans Ceramics

Edgecomb Pottery

727 Boothbay Road, Edgecomb

You’ve got to admire Richard and Chris Hilton who, in 1976, purchased a one-room abandoned schoolhouse to pursue their love of pottery-making full time.  During the first summer, they even slept on the schoolhouse floor and took showers at local campgrounds  and the YMCA to make ends meet.

Little red schoolhouse, first home of Edgecomb Pottery

Little red schoolhouse, first home of Edgecomb Pottery

But as a testament to their faith and perseverance, Richard and Chris not only endured, they succeeded.  And today, the huge gallery of Edgecomb Pottery invites locals and tourists in to see various lines of pottery, jewelry, glass, wood, metal, and lighting.

Airy displays give space to each important work at Edgecomb Pottery

Airy displays give space to each important work at Edgecomb Pottery

Artfully designed displays show off the hefty pieces that sport one-of-a-kind spattered glazes in a variety of colors. But other pieces just invite you over to check ’em out and marvel at this store filled with enticements.

Metal sculpture and handcrafted lighting at Edgecomb Pottery

Metal sculpture and handcrafted lighting at Edgecomb Pottery

Stroll through the schoolhouse to read about the history of Edgecomb Potters, and then check out the rooms of utilitarian and decorative pieces.  It’s a trip worth taking to Edgecomb, Maine.

Showroom at Edgecomb Pottery

Showroom at Edgecomb Pottery

For more Maine-inspired posts, check out our Travel Series:  August Down East And be sure to click on the links above to read more about these artsy places to see!

 

 

 

 

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True Maine treasure: Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

One pretty place: Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, Bristol, Maine.

One pretty place: Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, Bristol, Maine.

Approachable and easily accessible, Pemaquid Point Lighthouse is a treasure both for the state of Maine and for those of us looking for the quintessential charming white lighthouse.

Established in 1827, the light sits on a unique rock promontory in Bristol, Maine, near New Harbor and the town of Newcastle.  After a bout with crumbling plaster (salt water had been mixed with the original plaster), the lighthouse had to be rebuilt using only freshwater in the construction.  It opened in 1835.

Pemaquid Light with flag at half staff to honor those massacred in Las Vegas, October 20, 2017.

Pemaquid Light with flag at half staff to honor those massacred in Las Vegas, October 20, 2017.

A striking painted-white 38-foot tower stands tall , and the day we visited, the whole structure including the Fisherman’s Museum located in the original wood-framed lighthouse keeper’s home, positively glowed with the effects of the afternoon sun.

Glowing in the sun: Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

Glowing in the sun: Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

In 1856, a fourth-order Fresnel lens was installed in the tower, one of only eight such lenses still in use in Maine today, and you can visit the tower Memorial Day to Columbus Day.

Lighting the way: tower at Pemaquid Point

Lighting the way: tower at Pemaquid Point

We walked the grounds, noting the raw beauty of the craggy shore and small, but private picnic area. If you’re looking for a postcard-picture of Maine’s coast, this is one place you’ll want to see.

Rocky promontory at Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

Rocky promontory at Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse remains a favorite for its quiet countenance and visitor-friendly grounds planted with spectacular perennials. Go for the view.  Go for the simplicity.  Go for the museum.  Whatever you hoped for in a Maine lighthouse is probably there — at Pemaquid Point.

Rocky shore at Pemaquid Point

Rocky shore at Pemaquid Point

For more information:

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse3115 Bristol Rd, Bristol, ME 04558

Visit Maine website with information on location, entry fee, and hours for visitors.

Facebook:  Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

For more posts on Maine, check out our Travel Series:  Autumn Down East.  We’d love to show you Maine through our eyes!

 

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WPC: Maine all aglow

This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Glow must have had the coast of Maine in mind.  At least twice a day — and sometimes more often — Maine literally glows.  From soft reflections on harbor waters to lengthening autumn shadows on land, there’s no shortage of photo ops in the state of Maine.

Morning at Southwest Harbor

A golden shore at Southwest Harbor, Maine facing Beal's Lobster Pier.

A golden shore at Southwest Harbor, Maine facing Beal’s Lobster Pier.

Sunrise at Castine’s waterfront

The glow of sunrise on Castine's waterfront.

The glow of sunrise on Castine’s waterfront.

Afternoon glow at Spruce Point Inn, Boothbay Harbor

Afternoon glow on a line of chairs at Spruce Point Inn, Boothbay Harbor.

Afternoon glow on a line of chairs at Spruce Point Inn, Boothbay Harbor.

Catching the glow — a wooden boat somewhere near Deer Isle . . .

Catching the last rays of sun near Deer Isle, Maine

Catching the last rays of sun near Deer Isle, Maine

For more glowing photos, go to Weekly Photo Challenge: Glow.

For more posts on Maine, check out our Travel Series:  Autumn Down East. 

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Farnsworth’s exhibit “Andrew Wyeth at 100”: Remarkable!

Farnsworth Art Museum welcomes guests to an exhibit celebrating the centennial year of artist Andrew Wyeth.

Farnsworth Art Museum welcomes guests to an exhibit celebrating the centennial year of artist Andrew Wyeth.

Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine, is notably a destination on its own.  But now, with an exhibit marking the centennial of artist Andrew Wyeth’s birth, a visit to this institution becomes even more compelling.

Curated by Farnsworth Chief Curator Michael K. Komanecky and American art scholar Henry Adams, Andrew Wyeth: Maine Watercolors, 1938 – 2008 showcases many of the most notable watercolors of the artist’s career.  Housed behind the main Farnsworth museum building, the collection shows well in a church designed and decorated to reflect the simplicity and calm evident in Wyeth’s paintings.

Adding height and importance to Andrew Wyeth collection of watercolors, this renovated church stands behind the Farnsworth.

Adding height and importance to Andrew Wyeth collection of watercolors, this renovated church stands behind the Farnsworth.

Numerous works and studies beg to be studied more closely as you read the well-written background of the pieces and take a second or third look at technique, composition, and color.

Taking a closer look at Wyeth's watercolors on exhibit at Farnsworth.

Taking a closer look at Wyeth’s watercolors on exhibit at Farnsworth.

For the first time, Wyeth family members agreed to allow non-flash photography of the artist’s work at an exhibit.  But we saw few people taking advantage of the opportunity.  For the most part, those of us engaged with the works said little as we quietly studied the masterful works and the accompanying descriptions.  And we had our favorites.

Flying High, 1987

Wyeth's house on Southern Island, off the coast from Tenants Harbor, with signal flags flying.  Watercolor on paper.

Wyeth’s house on Southern Island, off the coast from Tenants Harbor, with signal flags flying. Watercolor on paper.

Watch Cap, 1974

Profile portrait of Walt Anderson.  Watercolor on paper.  Notable:  Wyeth "dug" into the paper to define individual hairs on the face and the white upper tip of the ear.

Profile portrait of Walt Anderson. Watercolor on paper. Notable: Wyeth “dug” into the paper to define individual hairs on the face and the white upper tip of the ear.

Goodbye, My Love Study, 2008

A study for Wyeth's last painting depicting a house on Allen Island.  To the left, a Friendship sloop named for the town in which it was made -- Friendship, Maine.  To the right, a large house called a sail loft because it has an open interior large enough for the making of sails. Watercolor and pencil on paper

A study for Wyeth’s last painting depicting a house on Allen Island. To the left, a Friendship sloop named for the town in which it was made — Friendship, Maine. To the right, a large house called a sail loft because it has an open interior large enough for the making of sails. Watercolor and pencil on paper

In a room of its own, Her Room hung along with numerous drawings, studies for the final work.  Also included were artifacts — the trunk and seashell that figure prominently in the painting.

Her Room, 1963

Remembering a summer day at their Broad Cove home in Cushing, Wyeth captures the light of an eclipse streaming through a room of the house. Tempera on panel.

Remembering a summer day at their Broad Cove home in Cushing, Wyeth captures the light of an eclipse streaming through a room of the house. Tempera on panel.

“Andrew Wyeth at 100,” which opened April 15th, ends December 31, 2017.  If you can visit Rockland, Maine, and the Farnsworth Art Museum before the close of the exhibit, you will be rewarded by a rare view of works by one of America’s most revered artists.

For more information: 

Farnsworth Art Museum: Andrew Wyeth at 100

To read more of what we’re seeing this fall in Maine, head to Travel Series:  August Down East.  

 

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