Maine crafts highlight this year's Longfellow Days in Brunswick

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BRUNSWICK — Many of the activities at this year’s Longfellow Days are literally linked by a common thread.

Beginning Feb. 6, workshops with world-renowned knitters, fiber arts enthusiasts, cabinet makers and blacksmiths will offer participants a chance to engage their minds, and hands, as they celebrate the birthday of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

The theme of this year’s Longfellow Days reflects the respect Longfellow had for artisans and craftsmen, according to event organizer Claudia Knox.

“Longfellow very much celebrated that sort of person-to-person relationship and the relationship of the hand-skilled laborers to their environment,” Knox said.

Knox added that there are many traditional craftsmen in the greater Brunswick area who are opening up their studios to the public as part of this year’s festival.

The cabinet makers at the Kennebec Co. will offer a tour of their Bath workshop on Feb. 22, and Freeport-based Balzar Family Clock Works will showcase some of its historical clocks at the Brunswick Inn on Feb. 10. Blacksmith Gerry Galuza will offer tours of his Woolwich forge on Feb. 24.

Knox said the title of Galuza’s event, The Village Blacksmith, was inspired by the name of a well-known Longfellow poem.

On Feb. 12 and 23, artist Ruth Monsell will be creating silhouettes for the public. Knox said Longfellow’s silhouette appeared in his Bowdoin College yearbook back in 1825 – an early 19th century equivalent of a photograph.

Seminars on the fiber arts invite participants to admire the work of local knitters and weavers. A Feb. 10 presentation at the Frontier Galley by Linda Cortright, cashmere goat farmer and editor and publisher of Wild Fibers magazine, will focus on international fiber animals and the environmental and social issues of the fiber trade. On Feb. 13, master knitter and sculptor Katherine Cobey will speak about about diagonal knitting, an artful way of creating hand-made clothing, at the Maine Fiberarts Gallery in Topsham.

The festival will also feature tours of the Brunswick First Parish Church, and its organ, on Feb. 12. The church was built and renovated by Maine artisans.

Knox said she is especially excited about the Winter Wisdom lecture. Carol Toner, the director of Maine Studies at the University of Maine, will speak on Feb. 16 about a collection of 150-year-old silk banners. The banners were used by the Maine Charitable Mechanic Association in an 1841 parade, and purchased by 16 Maine museums, historical organizations, and their supporters at an auction last year.

For more information about Longfellow Days, visit www.brunswickdowntown.com

Emily Guerin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or eguerin@theforecaster.net

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Artist Ruth Monsell will be cutting silhouettes as part of this year’s Longfellow Days.

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