New England's Best Small Towns: Shelburne Falls, MA
There’s nary a Walmart in sight in this Deerfield River hamlet, which only stands to reason: Few places are more antichain than Shelburne Falls, where everything—and we mean everything—is handmade. Its streets hum with the energy of artisans making handblown glass bowls, quilts, kitchen knives, and much more. Fans of high-end crafts meander through the Shelburne Arts Co-op and individual studios, where laid-back locals tend to decompress with a can of Bud after a day of making beautiful things. Tempted to embark on your own treasure hunt? Here are a handful of gems to inspire you. —Matthew Reed Baker
Laurie Goddard: In her studio on Bridge Street, Goddard paints dreamy images inspired by the landscapes of Japan, Italy, and the Berkshires and filtered through an abstract expressionist lens.
Stillwater Porcelain: These ceramic artisans specialize in adapting Mother Nature’s own designs—including shells, flowers, and crab apple trees—for a variety of highly detailed pieces, from dinner plates to wall tiles to soap dishes.
Angelic Glass: After watching glassblowers shape delicate ornaments, you can buy their creations right next door at the Young & Constantin Gallery.
Molly Cantor: Featuring quirky depictions of birds, farm animals, and even Shelburne Falls itself, Cantor’s pottery and sculpture may come off as playful, but her method is seriously ingenious. After molding the form from a slab of basic clay, she coats it with a different-colored clay, then carves into the layers to achieve her trademark block-print look.
Ann Brauer: An NEA grant recipient with work at the Museum of Arts and Design, Brauer pieces together mesmerizing quilts and wall hangings that evoke New England’s seasons and landscape.