The artistic and creative hands of the members of Designing Women reach out each year to the hands of those who staff agencies serving the needs of women and families. It is a symbiotic relationship — art on the one hand and the art of caring on the other.
Since 1991, Designing Women, a nonprofit organization “bridging art and community,” according to its Web site, has had two goals in mind — to showcase arts and crafts fashioned by women artisans and to benefit nonprofit service agencies supporting women and families. In past years, Designing Women has aided breast cancer support groups, art therapy retreats, shelters and counseling programs.
This year the $2 admission fee to the Designing Women show and sale will benefit the Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center in Bangor. The event is set for 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1, at The Dyke Center for Family Business at Husson University.
Ruth Lockhart, executive director of the health center, said, “We’re thrilled that Designing Women decided to partner with us to raise funds for Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center. It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet the amazing women who patronize the show.” At the show, health center staff and friends will sell coffee and goodies.
Lockhart said that proceeds from coffee sales, along with proceeds from the show’s admission charge, will go toward the center’s annual fund.
“The annual fund is the most important money we raise each year,” Lockhart said. “Those funds go toward operating costs, community education efforts and for underwriting services to women in need.”
On average, a Designing Women show nets approximately $1,000 for the agency it benefits, according to Maryann Ingalls of Bangor, co-director of Designing Women.
At the show, Kassie Hennessey of Stillwood Pottery in Orono will display and sell her woodland-themed pieces. This is her first year in the show as a provisional member of the group.
“Designing Women has high-end quality and high-end art,” she said. “I was impressed with that. And I really like their social responsibility.”
Small vessels shaped like maple, birch and other leaves, and pieces shaped like sections of tree limbs or tree trunks are hallmarks of Hennessey’s work.
Hennessey said she studied the art of pottery making in college in Ohio many years ago. She established her pottery studio in 1998, four years after moving to Maine. Before that, pottery had not been a top priority in her life.
“I wasn’t a reluctant artist, but I was an insecure artist,” she said. “Being in the company of others, such as Designing Women, being on the same artistic path, is a very pleasant experience. I like the affiliation.”
Hennessey’s work has been exhibited in Maine and throughout the United States.
Group member and quilter Gabriella D’Italia of Newburgh has been quilting for about eight years. “It’s nice to be in a group of women artists,” she said, “and to have a cause associated with our shows. I especially like the Bangor show because it always feels like such a community event.” She has been a member of Designing Women for about five years.
D’Italia, a self-taught quilter, does original and traditional designs. Besides quilts, she will offer quilted bags and pillows at the show.
Other Designing Women members who will be present at the show are:
Susan Anderson, Eddington, polymer clay and sterling jewelry; Susan Blaisdell, Norridgewock, hand weaving; Kathleen Colton, Matinicus, one-of-a-kind creations; Jennifer Condoulis, Eaton, N.H., natural herbal body products; Patti Dowse, Ripley, handbags; Patricia Eastman, Standish, kiln-worked dichroic glass; Lisa Eaton, Kennebunk, neckties, bowties and scrub caps; Christina Heininger, Ellsworth, puppets, cards and paintings; Pamela Hitchcock, Winterport, handmade gold and silver jewelry; Maryann Ingalls, Bangor, paper art, notecards, framed works and books; Janice Jones, Bradford, handwoven clothing; Beverley Lamoureux, Franklin, glass — lampwork and buttons; Janet Lockhart, New Harbor, stained glass; Gretchen Mead, Thomaston, watercolor and calligraphy; Jennifer Miller, Ellsworth, quilts and clothing; Suzan Scribner-Reed, Winterport, recycled paper jewelry; Mary K. Spencer, Gardiner, stoneware pottery; Judy Tripp, Palermo, woodcarving; Barbara Walch, Damariscotta, hand-built stoneware; Susan Watson, Garland, felting; and Martha Whitener, Portland, sterling silver and gold jewelry.
Designing Women also has available through its Web site, www.designingwomen.org, a tote bag featuring its logo. A portion of sales from the bag is donated to organizations the group supports.
Felted items, like this piece created by Christina Heininger of Ellsworth, will be among the handcrafted wares at the Designing Women show and sale Saturday, Nov. 1, at Husson University.