New England crafts hidden along country roads

For someone looking for handcrafted musical instruments or doll house miniatures, Handcraft Centers of New England (Ynakee Books, $7.95) is a guide to outlets and events where quality handcrafts are displayed and sold in the six-state region.

Organized with a chapter on each of the six New England states, the directory includes specialty shops, private studios, craft cooperatives, and annual craft shows. For each location, there is a brief description of the crafts available, price range, business hours, and driving instructions.

In Connecticut, in addition to numerous individual crafts shops and studios, there are several crafts cooperatives, selling works of exceptionally high quality. They also offer the chance to watch artists at work, and the opportunity to visit a number of craftsmen in one area.

In Maine, many of the crafts shops are scattered along the coastal US Route 1 , so one can combine visiting these outlets with a scenic drive.

In New Hampshire the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen is a highly respected crafts organization that runs an annual crafts fair in Newbury and maintains ten shops across the state. Craftsmen must have their work approved by a league jury, so high standards are maintained.

One listing in Hancock, N.H., reads, "Jeremy Seeger, Mountain Dulcimers, Fassett Hill (Box 117) 05748. Professional. Shop specializes in Appalachian mountain dulcimers made of mahogany and cherry, and hammered dulcimers made of maple. Prices range from $185 to $500. Seeger designs and builds instruments for superior sound and ease of playing. The woods are 'beautifully finished and often have striking grains.'

"Open daily all year, by appointment only. Please phone or write ahead, especially in winter. (802) 767-3790."

Another listing, in Old Saybrook, Conn., is for the Anderson-Williams House, where Hank Williams does chair seating such as cane, fiber, splint, Shaker, and tape. His specialty is natural rush in cat-o'-nine tails. Seat-weaving demonstrations are given.

Leslie Powell, owner of Slocum River Pottery in South Dartmouth, Mass., specializes in functional stoneware and porcelain for the table and kitchen. She writes, "I use a beautiful green glaze in decorating and, as my studio is near the ocean, I use many fish motifs."

There are about 600 crafts centers listed, from shops tucked away in the remote countryside, to popular crafts fairs in summer resort towns. The directory has two indexes -- one by craftsperson/shop name and the other by type of craft -- which is helpful to any crafts buyer to find just what he is looking for.

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