The primary lures of the American Folk Festival on the Bangor Waterfront are the strands of music that bind the crowds together in song. But another thread at the event that catches festival goers and keeps them coming back for more each year is the Folk Marketplace where fiber and folk artists offer their work for purchase.
Rosemarie DiLernia of Jackson will be among the artists on the avenue created last year along the Penobscot River, where the Folk Marketplace is located. The avenue, with individual tents for each vendor, replaces the “big top”-style tent used in previous years and offers festival goers a more enjoyable shopping experience.
DiLernia fashions knotted jewelry of linen or bonded nylon thread. She learned about knots from her father, Frank, a U.S. Navy veteran, when she was growing up in New York City in the 1960s.
“He showed me square knots, half-hitches, basic knots,” DiLernia said. Sometimes at the dinner table, her father would demonstrate how to use the knots to tie things together for everyday applications, such as binding a bouquet of flowers or tying a package. “That led to my looking further into knots. The macrame fad came about and I was attracted to that, picked up a book about it and recognized the knots [my Dad had taught me].” She also became interested in the “Ashley Book of Knots” and how old-time seafarers used knots on sailing ships.
When DiLernia moved to Maine in 1976, she began making macrame wall hangings and selling them at craft fairs.
“I sold my first wall hanging at a craft fair in a gym in Unity,” she said.
Eventually, she wanted to craft something that was more portable than large wall hangings, which brought her back to influences from her Dad.
“He used to bring home four-ply waxed linen thread from the litho-press [at his job] where he printed things like MAD magazine.” Using the thread her father had brought home, she made her first piece of jewelry at a craft fair sponsored by H.O.M.E. in Orland. “[Well-known Maine back-to-the-lander] Helen Nearing was at that show selling sweaters and things made on the farm,” she said.
When she first became interested in making jewelry with linen thread, DiLernia said, she wasn’t interested in color, enjoying instead the ecru and black tones of the linen thread. But gradually, her work evolved from demure to more flamboyant as she discovered bonded nylon thread in an array of colors and figured out how to use semiprecious stones in her work, including jade, agate, jasper, lapis and malachite.
“The list is so long,” she said. “I’m constantly adding to stone types and shapes.”
DiLernia said she is a self-taught maker of jewelry, though “art was a favorite subject at school.” Her designs come “out of my head” and she rarely sketches a design before she begins the knotting process.
“There’s no risk in experimenting [with new or unusual] designs,” she said, “because people seem to like what I do.”
The American Folk Festival, said DiLernia, who has been a vendor there each year, “is so much fun; people are in such a good mood because of the nature of the festival. They are appreciative, inquisitive, friendly and want to talk and ask questions about my work. We have nice conversations.”
Organizers of the Folk Marketplace, she said, accommodate vendors’ needs and see that things run smoothly.
“It’s a long weekend, hard work, and that kind of consideration is much appreciated,” she said.
In addition to jewelry, the Folk Marketplace will offer fabric and sewn items, fleece products, herbal arts products, braided rugs, leatherwork, pottery, specialty foods, stained glass, stone accessories, tied flies, traditional American Indian arts and wood crafts.
The American Folk Festival runs Friday through Sunday, Aug. 28-30, on the Bangor Waterfront. The event is free but a $10 donation per person would go a long way toward helping to cover the expenses of the event. For more information, visit www.americanfolkfestival.com.
The Verona Island Women’s Club is seeking crafty ladies and gentlemen to rent table space in its 25th annual Christmas Craft Fair to be held 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, at the Verona Island Town Hall. For more information, call Cora Webster at 469-3740 or Marlene Smith at 469-7992.