The Shining Sea Trail beckons, no less so the Great Dunes Trail: seven trails in all, crisscrossing Cape Cod and the Islands, with artists and craftspeople in every medium scattered like beach glass.
More than 200 destinations will tug at you, tempting you to wander into working studios and elegant galleries, some far off the beaten path. Your in-depth guide to buried treasure: the beautifully rendered Arts & Artisans Trails guidebook, filled with maps, photos, and summaries of what you’ll find at each stop, plus call-out descriptions of unusual diversions in each area.
Setting off on the picturesque Old King’s Highway Trail that winds from Sagamore to Dennis along Route 6A, it’s easy to imagine hoofbeats on the colonial stagecoach route–and near-impossible to pass up the Thornton W. Burgess Society’s Green Briar Nature Center and Jam Kitchen (apple-pie jam, anyone?) along the way. Then, digging deep into the guidebook, you might jump into the sweltering heat of glassblower David McDermott’s soaring studio, tucked behind an unassuming ranch in East Sandwich. Within moments, a lump of molten glass writhes and morphs into an exquisite bubble of color, breathed to life by Yukimi Matsumoto, David’s wife and collaborator.
“We work hot and fast,” says the man who’s been at it for more than 30 years. “We’re the only ones working this way in the country.” Outside, all manner of glass sparkles, tilting in flowerbeds or sprouting from tree trunks. The artist, who’s done pieces for six presidents, is Yankee to the core: “You know how much it costs to stump trees?” he asks. “We turned the stumps into pedestals.”
Back on the Old King’s Highway, it’s glass, pottery, jewelry, and painting studios, strewn to the left and right. And here, toward the end of the trail, what could be more enchanting (or more plein air, as the buzzphrase goes) than Scargo Pottery in Dennis? It’s a family affair–four daughters and dad Harry Holl–with an outdoor gallery tucked up a pretty path near Scargo Lake. Clay castles, urns, and giant bowls sit quietly throughout the grove and gardens and cluster in the beamy open-air structure.
Unexpected, unpredictable, and beautiful, these trails meander through the lives of Cape artists, while offering unexpected glimpses here and there of the gloriously vibrant sea beyond: the greatest artwork of all, as it weaves and flows, a constant companion along the way.