NORWAY — The Folk Art & Craft Center at Fiber & Vine is just getting off the ground and organizers hope to grow the center and offer more to the community.

Diana Arcadipone of Otisfield said she uses traditional craft techniques combined with paint in her art practice and has taught a folk art and craft course at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for 15 years. After moving and living in the area full time, Arcadipone applied for a grant from the Maine Arts Commission to run a folk art and craft center in Norway, in conjunction with Fiber & Vine at 245 Main St.

“Thankfully, Fiber & Vine is already set up for workshops,” Arcadipone said. “Fiber & Vine is a really great and natural partner for this kind of thing since they’re already set up for handcrafts — knitting, embroidery and crochet.” 

She received half of what she applied for — $1,500 — which will pay the teachers for the workshops and cover some of the materials. Thus far, they have held two book-making workshops. The embroidery workshop taught by Kim Hamlin, co-owner of Fiber & Vine, was so popular, a second one was held.

“There are so many makers in this area. People are really excited about it in terms of having a place to gather and teach people what they know,” Arcadipone said.

Upcoming workshops include wet felting, spinning, wood carving and handmade papermaking.

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Hamlin is excited about the different types of classes that will be offered at the Folk Art & Craft Center.

“Even wood carving to me falls under the umbrella that is fiber,” she said. “We have always wanted to have papermaking and ways to use all these supplies and other types of crafts. Yarn is more than knitting and embroidery. I personally, as an artist, want to learn more things. I love the idea of having a new space to just make a mess and not worry about what it looks like to customers walking in and out of the store.”

So what exactly is folk art anyway?

Arcadipone said, “There is a lot of work out there that can be confused with authentic folk art even at some of the big-box stores selling rugs from South America. Those are obviously mass-produced for that market.”

Authentic folk art is never mass-produced.

“Folk art is sort of by the community for the community,” she said, adding that often it is also utilitarian.

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Folk art uses locally sourced materials, including scavenged materials that can be found in the nearby area, as Arcadipone and her students are wont to do in their book-making. They often use handmade paper for the books and use found materials for the covers.

Folk art is usually created with handmade and basic tools, not power tools. These include hand-carved knitting needles, carving tools , which are used by local wood sculptor Don Best, who will teach an upcoming workshop, looms and the like.

“Many of the folk art and traditional craft techniques are not just old — they’re ancient. It’s pretty cool we’re still using them,” Arcadipone said. “The felting process is an ancient process basically using water and friction and locally sourced wool. I think the first felters were nomads who put wool in their boots to keep their feet warm and the friction and perspiration formed the felt around their feet.”

And keeping these ancient, handmade traditions alive is what folk art is all about.

“I always wanted to make everything that I use and need. I think that’s one of the advantages that makers and people who like to work with their hands have,” she added. “If you need something you can make it or you can take that nth degree (and) make all your own furniture, make your clothes, knit your sweaters, make your utensils, your kitchen items, your bowls and baskets (and) pizza ovens.”

Fees associated with the workshops help with the future of the Folk Art & Craft Center.

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“We’re trying to keep the workshop fees as low as possible, but with that revenue we hope to put that money into the basement and make that space available to others for art and craft workshops,” Arcadipone said. The plan is to install a sink downstairs along with electrical outlets so more people can participate and other types of workshops can be held.

“We’re not trying to make any money; we’re just trying to sustain the craft center,” she said, adding that the grant she received runs out this summer.

Arcadipone can always apply for more grants, she said, and hopes to be able to host a doll-making and hand loom weaving workshop in the future.

For more information about the Folk Art & Craft Center, to sign up for workshops or to learn about the teachers, visit www.fiberandvine.com/folkartcenter.

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Co-owner of Fiber & Vine shop Kim Hamlin, left, and folk artist and teacher Diana Arcadipone have combined forces to bring the Folk Art & Craft Center at Fiber & Vine to downtown Norway.

The basement of Fiber & Vine on Main Street in Norway will be home to the new Folk Art & Craft Center at Fiber & Vine. A sink will be installed so workshops such a papermaking can be held in the space.

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