“When I got my hands on clay, I said, ‘this is what I want to do.’ ” And Andy Hampton has been throwing pottery since 1969. The term sounds far more cavalier than is the craft he practices. But after throwing the clay onto his potter’s wheel, he then molds and shapes the stuff into plates, bowls, vases and mugs among other items.
After moving to New Hampshire with his wife, Hampton joined the NH Potter’s Guild. And after several years of studying with his peers and acknowledged masters of the craft. “I reached a level where I felt confident and comfortable and a couple of the other people in the Guild said ‘go jury for the League.’ "
Since 1932, the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen has been supporting and promoting the work of artists and craftspeople; curating galleries, where work is sold including the Craftsman Fair in Sunapee in August. But becoming a member of the League involves more than simply paying dues and attending meetings. Membership in the League is based on a “juried process” that is you present your work to a jury of fellow craftsmen of your particular medium, who are already members. And their verdict either grants or defers membership in the League.
Hamilton was thrilled when he was granted member status, “it was like I’d reached the dream. I’d been thinking about it and working toward it and working toward…it’s almost like getting your PhD, you feel like you’ve arrived.”
Once accepted opportunities for members abound. Members can display their work at the Leagues retail outlets around the state, which is a tremendous marketing boon for the artists. Hamilton says the League “also has a number of different courses that are taught from a business standpoint so you can learn how to arrange your books properly.”
In addition to being an organ for business development, Hamilton says that the League is also an invaluable artistic resource to members. “It’s an inspirational body of fellow-craftsmen that try to improve one another’s quality, keep the inspiration going, bring up new crafts people.”
Hamilton also points out that the community of Craft that the League fosters in the state is not an insignificant tourism draw. The annual Craftsman Fair is just one of the events that, “get other people in the state of NH and the surrounding areas to come and enjoy the work that we do here.”