Haystack Mountain School of Crafts shifts to remote classes for 2021

“Along with our online programs, we will focus on additional ways to strengthen the organization: from implementing the first year of our strategic plan and developing a long-range campus plan, to completing studio updates, organizing archival materials, and continuing Fab Lab production of personal protective equipment,” the release said. “We will not be idle.”

The online component of Haystack’s programming will be announced in coming months at haystack-mtn.org. An international craft school, Haystack draws students from across the country and the world, mostly during the summer, to its remote campus of cabins and studios in the woods just above the high-water line in Deer Isle.

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Haystack’s Fab Lab makes 4,000 face shields: And gives them away

Haystack Fab Lab Coordinator, James Rutter, started fabricating the face shields in March when a Brooksville writer named Jill Day decided to make them at home. She turned to Haystack for help cutting the plastic, thus jumpstarting what Haystack now calls the COVID-19 PPE Project.

Rutter thought he’d be making face shields through the summer, but now it looks as if the project will go on indefinitely, he said. It has had financial help from the Maine Community Foundation and various local donors. Someone who orders five face shields might give them $20, Rutter said. Haystack employs the students.

From face shields the project expanded to ear savers, adjustable hooks used behind the head to hold the elastic straps on face masks that otherwise cause discomfort. Rutter is also looking into making child-sized face shields and possibly desk shields for classrooms.

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Fab Lab, local mom making protective equipment

A peninsula woman and Haystack’s Fab Lab director are taking orders for personal protective equipment (PPE) from hospitals, ambulance corps and congregate care facilities coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.

It started in late March as an impromptu effort to make face shields for Blue Hill’s hospital. Brooksville writer Jill Day and the Fab Lab’s James Rutter—two people who never met—started working together, but separately, on that project.

Day cut the elastic for the first 500 face shields by hand.

“I’m still swollen on the hand that scissor-cut over 500 strips of elastic,” she wrote in an email. But she did borrow a paper cutter from the Bay School to cut the foam part.

Meanwhile Rutter cut plastic with the Fab Lab’s laser cutter.

By Monday, April 21, they’d made and delivered 400 face shields, with another 100 ready to go.


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Haystack produces face shields for homeless shelter staff

Haystack Mountain School of Crafts has been producing medical-grade face shields — about 500 so far — for the past two weeks for use by local health-care workers and others, including the staff of HOME, which operates homeless shelters in Orland and Ellsworth.

The school, which has canceled programming for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is using a 3D printer and other equipment in its fabrication laboratory (fab lab) to produce the shields as well as surgical mask strap “ear savers.” Ear savers are attachments designed to relieve the pressure of mask straps on a wearers’ ears.

James Rutter, the fab lab’s coordinator, said all the equipment is offered for free, thanks to donors, community foundation support and the school itself.



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Maine Acts of Kindness: Gorham woman’s handmade masks aid hospice workers and Crafts School Switches Gears

Editor’s note: This is the latest installment in an occasional series called Maine Acts of Kindness, highlighting volunteer and philanthropic efforts during the pandemic

The Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle was supposed to be celebrating its 70th year of operation this summer. Instead, the pandemic forced cancellation of its renowned artist-in-residence workshops, as well as scheduled community outreach programs.

But Haystack recognized its Fab Lab (short for fabrication laboratory) had tools available for the greater good, especially after local resident Jill Day of Brooksville came to Haystack and asked to use its laser cutter to cut plastic shields.



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Haystack cancels 2020 program due to pandemic

The Haystack Mountain School of Crafts announced Tuesday that it cancelled its 2020 program because of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. The decision will prevent the annual influx of about 1,200 people from all over the world who ordinarily live and work together on Haystack’s remote 35-building campus.

Haystack made the announcement public Tuesday afternoon, March 31, just hours before Maine Gov. Janet Mills ordered all Maine people to stay at home.

“It was a devastating decision to make,” Paul Sacaridiz, Haystack’s executive director, said in a phone interview. But, he said, they decided to suspend the program to keep people safe. “And I’m incredibly proud of that,” he said.

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Fab Lab steps out into the community

The Haystack Mountain School of Crafts held the first-ever Public Access Fab Lab winter workshop on February 15, teaching local people how to use a laser cutter.

The Fab Lab, a digital fabrication studio, has small-scale, high-tech production equipment that artisans can use to make things from delicate wood inlay to 4’ by 8’ furniture.

During its nine-year existence, the [Haystack] Fab Lab has reached out to the Union 76 schools, as well as Haystack’s summer residents. Now the winter workshops, part of a series, represent Haystack’s efforts to further expand its Fab Lab resources to the larger community.

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15 Downeast nonprofits awarded MCF grants to boost innovation

Fifteen nonprofits in Hancock and Washington counties have been awarded a total of $106,305 from the Maine Community Foundation's Downeast Innovation Fund.

The Downeast Innovation Fund Grant program, created two years ago, supports nonprofit organizations that set out to boost entrepreneurship and innovation in business and the local economies of those two counties.

Recipients in the latest funding round include Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, which will use the $5,000 grant to create a new maker space serving local communities.

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Ginger AldrichMAINEBIZ
Tips and Tools: Fab Lab Sponges

Use graphic-design software, a laser cutter/engraver, and a polyurethane sponge to produce incredibly precise and intricate sponge stamps to apply glazes, slips, and wax resist.

Paul Wisotzky, who was awarded an Open Studio Residency at Haystack in 2019, wrote the recent article “Tips and Tools: Fab Lab Sponges" – included in the February 2020 issue of Ceramics Monthly. The article describes his process with digital fabrication tools in the Haystack Fab Lab and outlines how others might approach using and integrating digital technology and fabrication within one’s creative practice.⁠

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Latest, largest-ever donation will help Haystack plan for climate’s threat to campus

When Edward Larrabee Barnes designed the campus of Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in the early 1960s, the architect didn’t have to account for rising sea levels brought on by climate change. He planned some structures within about 20 feet of high tide, giving artists the experience of sleeping and working at water’s edge.

With a new $4 million gift for campus preservation in hand, Haystack can start thinking about what to do about those vulnerable structures and other long-term campus needs, said Paul Sacaridiz, executive director of the school.

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Back to School

Haystack Mountain School of Crafts was founded in 1950 (it moved to its current location in 1961) without any set curriculum, teaching faculty or student body. Instead, every summer hundreds of students – from recent college graduates to retirees – descend on Haystack for two-week workshops in ceramics, weaving, woodworking, metalsmithing, glassblowing or printmaking. They are taught by a rotating roster of experts. “The most radical thing about this place is that its entire tenor changes every two weeks,” says Paul Sacaridiz, Haystack’s director since 2015. “It was never an attempt at a traditional school.”

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Nationally known Deer Isle art school received $4M endowment, its largest gift ever

The gift, the largest in the nationally renowned art school’s history, will allow Haystack to maintain its 40-acre campus, with buildings designed and built in the early 1960s by acclaimed American architect Edward Larrabee Barnes. The grant will function as an endowment, and the funds will be limited to paying for the preservation and maintenance of the buildings, according to a press release sent out by the school on Thursday.

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Haystack School nets $4 million to preserve campus

The campus, designed by the late American architect Edward Larrabee Barnes, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

Barnes’ design situated a series of modest buildings on a granite ledge overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The shingled structures, built in a vernacular style with local materials, are connected by a series of walkways that encouraged community, while seeming to float above the forest floor.

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Maine Art School Receives $4M Endowment To Preserve Campus

The Bangor Daily News reports the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle received its largest gift from the Windgate Foundation on Thursday.

The endowment will be used to fund the ongoing effort to preserve and maintain the school's 40 plus-acres campus.

The nationally renowned art school is located on a cliff overlooking the Jericho Bay in the village of Sunshine in Deer Isle.

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Deer Isle arts colony receives $4 million gift, the largest in its history

Haystack Mountain School of Crafts said in a news release that the gift from the Windgate Foundation is the single largest in the school’s history.

The money will be permanently restricted, generating annual operating support for the ongoing preservation of the campus, which received a 25-year award from the American Institute of Architects in 1994 for its architectural design and cultural significance.

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One weekend at Haystack and Maine LGBTQ teens are inspired to be artists

Two years ago, OUT Maine Executive Director Jeanne Dooley had a light-bulb moment while on a personal artistic workshop at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle. While there, she floated the idea of having the young people she works with at OUT Maine, a statewide resource for LGBTQ youth, go to Haystack for an immersive art weekend.

That idea eventually got traction, funding and momentum and this past September, nearly 70 LGBTQ teenagers from all around the state were able to meet up for a three-day immersive art weekend at Haystack. 

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IN THE VANGUARD, 1950-1969

A new craft culture was already well under way in America, thanks to the Penland School of Crafts, Black Mountain College and the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Colleges and universities were establishing craft programs as part of their curricula and museums were mounting shows.

Haystack began with a simple philosophy as expressed by Merritt: “In the school’s program, it is the first aim to encourage creative thinking and personal expression.” Guided by that credo, the school embarked on an ever-expanding journey of craft exploration. 

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Review – In the Vanguard: Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, 1950–1969

Borrowing the words of Francis Merritt, the first director of the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, the title of the Portland Museum of Art exhibition, In the Vanguard: Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, 1950–1969, defiantly flouts the longstanding misconception that the avant-garde is an exclusively urban phenomenon. Now that art historians have widely challenged the dominance of New York and Paris on the development of a singular modernism, exhibitions such as this one are free to position such rural art communities as pivotal nodes in a richer, denser narrative of multiple modernisms that bridge rural and urban, local and global, craft and fine art. 

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Arielle WalrathPanorama

When art historian Rachael Arauz ’91 began searching through library archives and attics full of dusty bankers boxers to mount a major museum exhibition about the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, she was hoping to uncover the origins of the school, unique in North America for bringing together artists and amateurs from a variety of media—fiber, ceramics, metal, wood, glass—for an intense summer experience of art-making, experimentation, and community in rural Maine. What she hadn’t expected to discover was a Wellesley connection. But there in a 1951 newspaper profile of one of the school’s founders, Elizabeth Crawford 1921, was a reference to her attending Wellesley College. “Beth Crawford had really just been lost to history,” says Rachael.

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