When Katy Kelleher was approached to write a book about handcrafts in Maine, she expanded the notion well beyond pottery and sculpture.
“I started thinking about how so much of the creativity here takes on other formats, like baking and weaving and even lobstering and seaweed harvesting,” said Kelleher, a freelance writer and former managing editor at Maine magazine who grew up in Acton, Mass., and now lives in Buxton, just west of Portland.
The result is “Handcrafted Maine: Art, Life, Harvest & Home” (Princeton Architectural Press, $39.95), a gift-worthy book highlighting 22 makers and lavishly illustrated with images by Portland-based photographer Greta Rybus.
While the book mines the creative process and highlights Maine’s culture and environment, it also serves as an imaginative travel guide for northern explorers, as several of the subjects work with the public, including dogsled outings with Mahoosuc Guide Service in Newry and fish guiding at Red River Camps in Portage. At Grain Surfboards in York, where co-owners Brad Anderson and Mike LeVecchia handcraft wooden surfboards, visitors can spend a weekend learning to make their own boards while staying on Grain’s farm. Down East visitors might want to stop in at chainsaw sculptor Ray Murphy’s warehouse in Hancock or Swans Island Company in Northport, where blankets are still made by hand.
“Although the people we featured in the book are diverse, with different work and economic backgrounds, so much of what they do reflects the Maine landscape, with a lot of the material they use coming from the land and water around them,” said Kelleher. “The landscape, of course, is a big reason people want to visit Maine, or even move here. They really treasure it.”
Diane Daniel can be reached at diane@bydianedaniel