Driving down Main Street in this coastal village, a flash of stained glass catches the eye. The piece, composed of clear Depression glass plates and colorful panes, was fashioned by Pam Broderick. The artful sign signals you have arrived at Works of Hand.
Broderick and her husband Roger Fisher, own the seasonal shop and gallery featuring local artists from Maine and beyond. The couple, who will have been married for 34 years this September, originally hail from Manchester, Conn. This summer will mark their shop’s 21st season in this seaside community.
Broderick calls coming to Winter Harbor the “best, dumb mistake we ever made.”
After years of long drives back and forth from Connecticut to spend summers here, Broderick, who holds a degree in sociology and Fisher, a retired hospital staff trainer, decided to uproot and move to Maine in 1992.
At 426 Main St., which is the couple’s home and houses Works of Hand, coral and powder blue Adirondack chairs and purple wicker rockers greet folks and invite them to take a seat while strolling among the lush perennial beds and browsing the vintage antiques and handmade creations in the gift shop.
Seashells, strung together at the neighbor’s house, chime throughout the garden. The crunch of gravel is heard as Fisher puts out the “Open” and “Welcome” flags this Saturday morning.
“It certainly is a rush trying to get everything ready and the lawn mowed,” he said.
Fisher and Broderick initially started out selling Shaker-style, reed baskets that she would weave herself and he would rim and stain. Eventually, they began featuring others’ artwork and built a new store.
“There are people who walk in all the time looking for things,” Broderick said. “We’ll be sitting there in the living room [next door], sorting linens and they come up on the deck. Other times, we’ll have people who come and knock on the door at nine o’clock at night saying ‘I need a birthday card!’”
Inside Works of Hand, pieces by scores of artists from Maine and around the country, as well as Mexico, are displayed.
“It started with local [pieces], in the Schoodic area, then expanded to a bit more of Maine,” Fisher said. “Then we traveled and loved meeting artists and the different types of art.”
Broderick and Fisher have journeyed to Mexico twice — first to Mérida on the Yucatan Peninsula and then to Oaxaca. They plan to return next winter.
“We had heard interesting things about Oaxaca as a real center for the arts surrounded by a multitude of villages, all of which practiced very distinctive forms of handcrafts,” Broderick explained.
They took classes back-strap weaving, tinsmithing, paper mache, bookbinding and other traditional crafts.
“We went for the moderate climate in the mountains and color and found so much more!” she said.
In early May, they returned from a month-long expedition to Italy, trekking through Siena, Florence, Lucca, Cinque Terre, Venice and Cortona.
“We loved visiting the island of Murano where all Venetian glass is made and were able to arrange a special tour of a premier studio,” she related. “We were fascinated by paper mache masks in both Venice and Florence, finding handmade marbled paper in Florence — and of course the art of food and wine making. So much more captured our hearts and imaginations.”
Many of the pieces in the store are handmade from Oaxaca. Some of the most detailed and colorful works are called alebrijes, which Fisher describes as “fanciful animal sculptures that have been carved out of the copal tree.”
Among the Maine-made pieces are hand-dyed, silk scarves, hand-felted wool capes, knitted and crocheted hats, handmade jewelry and sea glass buttons. Gracing the walls are watercolors and acrylic paintings, photographs, and mirrors rimmed with seashells.
“We’ve seen artists grow and change over the years,” Broderick said. “There are many people [in Maine] who are multi-talented, somebody who can paint and somebody who can knit — it’s not uncommon here for many of the people to have more than one job. They do whatever they have to do because everything is so seasonal.”
Works by Hand
Where: 426 Main St., Winter Harbor
Season: Memorial Day through mid-October
Hours: Daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.