Maybe it started back in the 1920s when the artist, activist, writer, and adventurer Rockwell Kent built Asgaard Farm. The Whiteface Region has had an element of artist's colony ever since.
But then, the Adirondacks has always attracted artisans. The Hudson River School of painting inspired artists to seek ever more stunning natural settings, created a need for packbaskets to be woven for guests the guides escorted into the wilderness, and provided plenty of room and fuel for pottery kilns and workshops of all kinds.
Now, this long tradition lives on in our art and craft shops, offering a fantastic selection of artisan items.
Young's Gallery has paintings and etchings of local scenery, all kinds of pottery, jewelry, and book arts. That is just the work of the gallery's two owners. They handle 50 others, from fabric arts to candles to knitted goods.
Young's Gallery always has so many interesting things, creatively arranged to make the most use of the space. (There is a charming black cat who is seen here and there, but yes, he's real, and no, he doesn't want to be petted. However, he will welcome murmured compliments.)
They have a lot of nature themes. While the paintings usually focus on scenery and wildlife, we can find such themes in the pottery, necklaces, or even the hats.
There's always something wonderful I I haven't seen before and I have to wrestle with myself because it's highly likely it will have been snatched up by someone else by the time I come back. These little bird bowls would be perfect for my earrings. Then again, I need to buy earrings.
The jewelry is handmade and the hats are absolutely adorable.
This is a must-stop when I'm looking for a special gift for one of my friends.
Jay Craft Center is another shop where the inventory changes fairly frequently. New artists appear and old favorites might be trying something new.
But I can always find something I like.
Pottery is very much the theme here, but there's also jewelry (there goes the earring budget), wooden bowls and cups, handmade lamps, framed art, and souvenir T-shirts featuring the Jay Covered Bridge.
One of the great things about having so many arts and crafts shops in the area is how even the smallest area of my living space has the option of being just a little more beautiful, and just a bit classier, than it was before. Even a humble soap dish in the bathroom, or a spoon rest for the stovetop, can have that artistic flair.
There's a window in the back where we can see artists creating some of the hand-sculpted items which will wind up in the shop.
The Alpaca Shoppe is located on an actual alpaca farm. Yes, they are cute and their babies (known as crias) are even more so.
However, they are also large and protective and best appreciated by wearing the knitted goods they provide. I certainly do, since this is the only form of wool my sensitive skin can tolerate. Right now I really want one of their alpaca backpacks, even though I really need more winter socks.
But one is fun and the other is practical.
If you know a knitter, this is the place to browse the incredible variety of colors and textures in their 100% alpaca yarn. This is stronger, softer, and warmer than either wool or acrylic, so you might want to get dibs on that first item before everyone else finds out.
While we can't visit the alpacas, we can enjoy what they do to keep us warm and stylish.
This is just three of the places to treasure hunt among our unique and interesting little shops, all along some of the most scenic drives to be found anywhere.
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