Shelburne Art Center returns to its roots

Turned bowl by Craft School instructor Ben Shaker-Rickels. The bowl is one of the many pieces on display and for sale at the Craft School’s gallery and store.

In 1938, a local woodworker invited a handful of youngsters from the Shelburne Village School to learn the fundamentals of woodworking, and the joys of creating from wood, “articles both useful and pleasing to the eye.” The woodworker, Reverend J. Lynwood Smith, held the classes in the basement of Shelburne’s Trinity Episcopal Church rectory with the belief that crafts, either as a vocation or an avocation, are an indispensable part of our culture.
Throughout the decades, the Shelburne Craft School has gone through many changes. In the early part of the 21st century, the School expanded to the Shelburne Art Center and the Gallery on the Green; changes have occurred, according to Sage Tucker-Ketcham who is the school’s executive director, and with them come a clear vision: to return to the core values of the original Craft School. “Changing the name back to the Shelburne Craft School represents a return to our roots as a place of education. We are refocusing our efforts on providing what Reverend Smith wished to provide to the community of Shelburne back in the 1930s,” she shared. That vision was to assure the opportunity for creative education to all. Tucker-Ketcham offered that Reverend Smith made a lasting impact on the Shelburne community, a belief and mission the Shelburne Craft School strives to continue to provide support by way of connecting education and creativity with the development of a certain quality of livelihood.
In support of its recent return to these core values, Shelburne Craft School’s campus is home to specific studios for ceramics, woodworking, stained glass, jewelry, and fine art. A dedicated group of professional artists and artisans teach a variety of classes and workshops throughout the year. The School’s programs for children include drop-in, after-school, and summer camps. The Shelburne Craft School hosts several events throughout the year, such as Wall to Canvas with Magic Hat Brewery, Winter Wreath and Wine Tasting at Shelburne Vineyard, and this year the Taste of Shelburne is being organized at the Shelburne Museum. “We are continuing to revitalize programs, including upgrades to the campus on Harbor Road,” Tucker-Ketcham shared.
The School offers incubator space for emerging artists and craftspeople of all ages. The new Woodworker-in-Residence Program provides an incubating environment for emerging woodworkers with the goal of beginning their own woodworking business.
The changes in progress at the “new” Shelburne Craft School brings the mission of its founding members closer to reality. As stated by Reverend Smith,“We are not trying to establish merely a hobby shop here; we hope to train real craftspeople by encouraging the talents which are latent in all of us.”

One thought on “Shelburne Art Center returns to its roots

  1. I remember school time classes at the Craft Shop with the Rev. Lyn Smith vividly over 50 years later. My time at the school learning woodworking skills was valuable personally. Plus, I achieved the long lasting satisfaction of creating pieces of woodwork that are still in use by me and my family. Rev. Lyn Smith and the Shelburne Craft School provided a tremendous legacy for the Town of Shelburne.

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