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An Impromptu Artisan Tour

Tupper Lake Area

5
Oct
2016

It's always good to start at the beginning!

Who of you knew that there are a lot of artisans in the Tupper Lake area? Of course there are shops and a lot of fun outdoor activities to do, but on top of all that there is an impressively high level of artistry and creativity!

My journey started at the Junction

The Tupper Lake Art Show, in its 43rd year, was Sept. 1-3, and I took the opportunity to check it out. As you will see from the photos the day was beautiful. My intention was to go to the Junction, look around the show, and call it a day. I didn't realize that would lead to a scavenger-hunt type of excursion.

A community art show

As I walked into the showroom, I realized there was a lot more displayed than I expected. You know when you go to an art show and the gallery only has a few artists, so you are left with a feeling that you wish there was more to see? This show wasn't like that. It was big and had many different mediums: pastels, charcoal drawings, prints, prints on canvas, metal works, sculpture, wood work, and oil, water color, and acrylic paints!

The other thing I noticed was the varying cost of the items presented. I say this because, from my experience, when you go to an art show there is normally a small variance in the prices, which I assume means the artists have a similar popularity level. At the Tupper Lake Art Show there were impressive charcoal drawings for about $20. There were also paintings that were in the thousands. The price variance to me seems to say that these artists are supportive of each other and the community.

The amount and variety of work inspired me to see what Tupper Lake artists and artisans had to offer. One of the artists at the show was Casagrain, and I noticed there was a gallery right downtown.

Casagrain Gallery

When I entered the gallery I was greeted by Barbara Casagrain, artist Gary Casagrain's spouse. She was open to conversation and answering questions. My spouse is an artist, so I know some of what goes into supporting an artist. Barbara and I chatted a bit as we walked around the showroom. She mentioned the inspiration that lead to some of the pieces, and how she makes the birch bark frames that are used for some of the items. I was seriously impressed with the furniture.

The above item is called "Fenlong Sideboard with American Woodcock." Ron Fenlong is the artisan who made the furniture piece, and Gary Casagrain is the painter. Barbara mentioned that Ron is her brother, they have collaborated together for some time, and they've created many amazing pieces.

The gallery also has originals, and framed and unframed prints. What this does is give everyone the opportunity to have one of Gary's pieces to show in their living room or office, at every price level.

A slight detour

The day was still young, so I looked at some of the business cards and brochures I took from the art show. I noticed there was a leather shop up the road called Leather Artisan, so I hopped into my car and headed out.

As I was heading down the road, I realized I wanted a drink and a snack. Since I have a soy allergy, I have to be careful what I eat. The Health Hub is a great little place to get delicious snacks, so I stopped in there for a quick treat.

Back on Route 3, I noticed a nice little spot that hangs over the water that's a quick turn on Pump House Road. As you can see it is an amazing view of Spider Island on the Raquette River. I sat on the bench and enjoyed my Coconut Water and soaked up some sun.

The smell of leather

You know that smell when you walk into a leather shop? That rich, earthy, natural smell? There is something primal about the scent. As I entered the Leather Artisan shop I was greeted by that smell and all of the amazing items on display. Allyson greeted me, and after a short conversation offered a tour of the workshop. I walked into the shop and there was someone sewing leather for one of the bags. In the back there were templates for the bags and tools with which to make them.

Back in the showroom, I noticed they carry Minnetonka Moccasin. I have a pair and I love them -- they are comfortable, last a long time, and I wear them almost everyday. It is good to know that there is a local shop that has such good quality leather goods. Allyson told me they will service their bags if anything every should happen to them. So not only do they have quality items, they also have a high level of customer service.

I was back on the road hunting for another local artisan. Heading back toward Tupper Lake on Route 3, as I was just about to curve the bend before the Junction, I noticed a woodworking shop on the left.

Touch of Wood

A little old service station re-purposed into a woodworking shop and showroom named Touch of Wood. What a great idea! Right next to the station is a small building where the actual workshop is located. I stepped in to say hello and David Obrian greeted me. He was working on a project that looked like a storage cabinet of some kind. I could tell he has an eye for detail and craftsmanship, as he was very focused. I asked David a few questions. He told me the shop has been open for about three years. Depending on the season the sales are up and down, but he works pretty much all of the time.

I could tell he was busy, so I didn't want to take up too much of his time. I thanked David and excused myself. As I was stepping out the door I noticed there was a newly constructed little building on the other side of Touch of Wood with an Open House sign.

My first time in a tiny home!

Over the last few years I have noticed the growth of the tiny home craze. Personally, I love them but I've never had the opportunity to actually be in one. So I walked right into Peter Boushie Tiny Homes & Storage Sheds, which offers customizable interiors and exteriors. I don't know what the square footage is, but I know it wasn't one of the 100- to 200-square foot ones. My guess is this one is about 900-square feet.

The home had beautiful woodwork everywhere, with plenty of space to feel comfortable sharing with another person. The bathroom has a tub, a sink with a vanity, a stand-up shower, and enough room for stacked washer and dryers. The layout was nice and cozy. Great tiny home for my first time.

At this time I took a second to look at my phone to see who else in the area does artisan work, specifically with wood. I found that the Raquette River Outfitters makes some of their own boats, so down the road again I go.

Raquette River Outfitters

Snowball

Just after a bridge over the Raquette River on the left, heading down Route 30, is a sweet cabin with the sign Raquette River Outfitters. As I pulled into a parking space I was greeted by Snowball, a cute and friendly white cat.

Craftsmanship

Rob and Anne, the owners, met me and offered a tour of the grounds and work area. As we walked around with Snowball at our heals Rob explained that they sell and rent a wide variety of kayaks, canoes, SUPs, and paddling gear. Rob guided me toward his work area, where he builds magnificent Adirondack Guide Boats. It never dawned on me that there was so much artistry is involved in crafting a boat. The craftsmanship is exquisite.

The sun was no longer high in the sky, so I looked at my watch and realized I should head home. I was so impressed with the level of craftsmanship, artistry, and artists in the Tupper Lake area that I discovered in just one day. It felt good to know there are still people who do things from scratch and love what they do. My goal next time is to check out Hammersong - Architectural Metal & Design by Jay Daniel King, and artist blacksmith. When you get a chance, discover for yourself the awesome variety of arts that Tupper Lake has to offer!


This week in related ADK touring news:

Cool present, cool past

Great Camp Santanoni

Fore reasons, four seasons

From there to here

Dreaming of a white season

Say cheese

The 6th Great Lake

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