Artists guild craft fair launches holiday shopping season

Feather Publishing

Pat Cannon is this year’s “featured artist” at the annual Art & Craft Fair.

The Mohawk Valley Artists’ Guild is getting ready to hold its Holiday Fair at the Graeagle Fire Hall on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 29 and 30. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The after-Thanksgiving event is the most recent in a long line of MVAG fairs designed to feature local artists and raise funds for the support of art in the schools and arts programs in the community.

Pat Cannon has been turning wood for only the last three years but his previous life experience has prepared him well for the craft he now enjoys. Pat retired from AC Transit in the Bay Area and came to the Mohawk Valley in 2002 under the influence of some neighbors who had previously settled in the Valley Ranch development in Clio.

He spent 30 years at the Naval Air Station in Alameda. His mom was a certified aircraft engine mechanic who taught him the value of good quality tools and precision workmanship. From that influence, and after a history of 30 years of fine cabinet making, he finally settled on woodturning in retirement.

He turned his first bowl in July 2010 in tulipwood and from then on he admits to being “addicted” to the craft. He is passionate about the varieties of wood that he uses and describes each of their characteristics in great detail. Some of his favorites are mesquite, from Southern Arizona, claro walnut and Mediterranean olive wood.

Turning “green” wood is a favorite technique. Green wood is wood that is not completely dry and therefore unstable. In order to get a usable product the craftsman must leave the bowl unfinished. The bowl must then be allowed to dry for about six months and then finish machined to final size.

Cannon’s shop is filled with bowls and small round boxes of all sizes and shapes. His space at the show will be crowded with the best of his creative woodturnings. Organizers promise that all will be amazed at the variety of geometries that can be produced.

Cannon describes himself as a “tool freak” and although we think of the lathe as the primary tool of woodturning, he has a collection of fine supporting tools that includes a band saw, jointer, planer, drill press, sander and table saw. His home shop is equipped with a sophisticated dust collection system to avoid the effect of breathing in the dust particles from some of the exotic woods he machines.

One of worst offenders to the respiratory system is camphor wood. Cannon says that the wood is common to the Bay Area, and although it machines beautifully, it is toxic. He found this out the hard way by contracting asthma after being exposed to the dust. A face mask and an effective air cleaning system is critical to any woodworking shop.

This will be Cannon’s third craft fair. He has also shown some of his pieces at Red House Art in Graeagle. Attendees are encouraged to ask him about his popular yarn bowls and his “eccentric” turnings. He, along with 20 other artists, will enjoy showing and selling his latest creations at this traditional annual event. Some of the other arts and crafts featured will be handmade jewelry, knit and crocheted items, photography, pottery, watercolors, rustic furniture, glass and crystal ware and handcrafted beeswax candles.

This will be the last Art & Craft Fair held under the auspices of the Mohawk Valley Artists’ Guild. After 30-plus years, the guild is disbanding. The current board of directors, led by Paula Tiner, is hoping that some other sponsor will pick up the baton and keep this Mohawk Valley tradition going.

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