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Inside Guide: The Worcester Center for Crafts

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Dating back to the 1800s, the craft fair tradition has a long history in Worcester. In 1856, The Women’s Employment Society began teaching craft and incorporating the work of diverse cultures into a program to aid immigrant women in earning a living in their new home. By the 1930s the organization had opened their own store and was selling hand-made wares both nationally and internationally to critical acclaim.

After the end of World War II, the Society founded the Worcester Center for Crafts at Salisbury Mansion. Both the artists and the organization utilized specialized craft training and sales initiatives to generate ongoing revenue.

The new building which features multiple studios, a gallery store and new exhibition space was designed by a local architect and built in 1958.

The first Craft Fair was presented in 1970 when volunteers invited artisans to show their work out of the back of trucks in the parking lot on Sagamore Road. From that extremely humble beginning, the annual Spring craft fair evolved into the renowned Thanksgiving Festival of Crafts. A highlight for the holiday season, the Festival is the place to celebrate the season of giving with one of a kind handcrafted gifts for those special people on your shopping list.

Now a non-profit, independent, community based arts organization, today’s craft center is a vibrant and creatively nurturing artistic community that caters to all level and ages of craft, medium and artisan. For those looking to discover their creative muse, the Worcester Center for Crafts has evolved into a valuable community resource that “teaches modern craft to children, adults and professional artists, supports the craft artist entrepreneur, and builds audience and market for fine handmade craft”.

The New Street Glass Studio is also an exciting addition to the Worcester Center for Crafts. This 8,000 square-foot comprehensive glass facility offers classes for all ages as well as studio rental, hot shop and cold shop rental, and artist residencies. This offsite facility is located at 35B New Street.

The tradition forged in the 1800s, for economic empowerment through learning about the necessary skills to create and sell crafts, continues today. The Worcester Center for Crafts tagline is “sustaining craft as a vital part of our community”. In addition to classes, ongoing exhibits, exhibitions, events and a highly utilized gallery/gift shop give artisans a chance to take their work to the public eye. While supporting entrepreneurship in the arts, Worcester Center for crafts also promotes an appreciation for the art itself throughout the region and enjoys an alliance with Worcester State University.

This month, twenty-one acclaimed New England potters are part of the annual Pottery Invitational. There is an artists' reception on Friday, April 27 from 6-10 and the show and sale on Saturday, April 28 from 10-6 and Sunday, April 29 from 11-5. There will be interactive demonstrations by exhibiting artists on Saturday at 10:30 and 2:30 and Sunday at 1:30.

The events are open to the public. For directions click here.

For more information or to download a catalog, log on to Worcester Center for Crafts

Susan D. Wagner is a Worcester resident and president of Susan Wagner PR, a boutique public relations firm invested in meeting client's goals with integrity and creativity. She is also Managing Partner for The Boston Ad Agency and Director of Corporate Communications for Boston Web Designers


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