This weekend, more than 50 studios and farms across Maine will open their doors to visitors for Fiber Arts Tour Weekend, offering a chance to view the fiber arts practice up close and personal.

This is a landmark event for Maine Fiberarts, the sponsoring organization based in Topsham. The group began the tour in 2006, repeated it in 2009, and with this weekend’s tour has committed to continuing it as an annual event. From here on out, it will be the first weekend of August every year, said Christine Macchi, the group’s executive director.

“This is a huge commitment on the part of our organization,” she said. “We know from past experience that the tour helps build recognition and awareness. It’s targeted to craft collectors, art enthusiasts and friends of farms, but it’s open to everybody.”

The fiber arts tour stands as an example of the potential of cultural tourism. Maine Fiberarts has posted an interactive map on its Web site, www.mainefiberarts.org, with driving directions, Web links and contact information for each site. Craft demonstrations available during the Fiber Arts Tour Weekend have also been posted to help people plan their own itineraries.

Printed brochures listing all participants can be obtained at Maine Fiberarts in Topsham, Halcyon Yarn in Bath and at participating sites.

Farms and studios participating in the tour weekend will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Activities are free, and will include an antique spinning mill in Harmony, a Pygora goat farm in Limerick, a feltmaker’s studio in Garland, natural dye demonstrations in New Gloucester, and tours of gardens and sheep flocks in Brownfield.

Spinning wheel collections, handspun yarns, art quilts, collectible crafts and freshly-shorn fleeces can all be discovered during the three-day event.

Macchi noted that while the Fiber Arts Tour Weekend offers visitors the opportunity to visit specific places during set times, 134 studios and farms are available for visits all year long on a call-ahead basis.

The Maine Fiberarts Tour Map can be picked up at Maine State Visitor Information Centers, participating tour sites, Portland’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, Amtrak Bus Terminals, Portland Jetport, and Maine Fiberarts.

The fiber scene in Maine includes artists working with fabric, collage, thread, paint or paper. They paint quilts, stitch books, coil baskets, felt masks and knit sculpture. Small farms producing mohair, alpaca, llama and wool are also a part of this scene.

Curious travelers can find wool sweaters, handspun yarns and other handmade collectibles or experience craft demonstrations, working studios or farm chores firsthand.

The Fiber Arts Tour Weekend presents both the makers and the producers a chance to open their doors and be discovered.

Maine Fiberarts is a statewide organization formed in 2000. At its center in Topsham, it shows revolving exhibitions featuring individual artists. On view at the gallery through Aug. 31 is “Encounters: Paintings on Handmade Paper” by Arlene Morris. Morris will attend a reception in her honor from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday.

 

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at: [email protected]