The New Canaan Artisans began in 1931 when a small group of friends gathered together to sew layettes, nightgowns and specialty clothing for families under the care of the Visiting Nurses Association.
Known originally as the Sewing Committee of VNA, the members decided to divide into smaller groups during the mid-30’s and formed Group A (fine sewing) and Group B (hand knits, needlepoint, aprons, bed jackets, etc.). After years of sewing flannel gowns, the members decided to sell their finer handiwork and donate the money to the VNA. They incorporated December 15, 1938. (The logo was adopted in 1956). Group C (knitted sweaters, sacques, and caps for babies) was added in 1939 and Group D (toys and articles suitable for children) in 1949, for those younger members who could only meet once a month. Group E (hand and machine stitchery) followed in 1955 and has since evolved into fine needlepoint. Group F (decoupage) started in 1960, but was incorporated into Group D in 1998. From 1998-1999 Group D also had a satellite group for young members who needed to meet in the mornings only.
During the 1970’s, Group G (for gentlemen) was a men’s auxiliary group of 18 member husbands who contributed footstools, toys and Nantucket baskets. Food sales were also periodically held during the early years, to defray expenses incurred in sewing for the VNA. A food table was first featured at the Christmas sale. In 1954, the Sewing Group produced a cookbook, “How to Needle A Cook” with revisions in 1961, 1966 and 1984.
In 2015 it was agreed to change the name New Canaan Sewing Group to New Canaan Artisans. So many changes had taken place over the years that the membership believed the organization’s name no longer reflected the wide range of handcrafts currently being created. In addition to the traditional handcrafts, members were branching out into painting, jewelry and paper crafts..
The Allocations Committee of the New Canaan Artisans facilitates the evaluation of, and distribution to, the agencies making requests. The Vice-President serves as the committee chairperson and is assisted by representatives from each of the Groups. Grant forms are sent to agencies that have received funds in the previous two years and to new agencies that have been recommended by and are responsibly known to a New Canaan Artisan member. A committee member personally visits each requesting agency during the evaluation process and the year’s proceeds are allocated at the meeting of the Allocations Committee. These recommendations are voted on by the New Canaan Artisan’s Board of Directors and then by the general membership at the Annual Meeting. This year, our allocations totaled $35,000. This figure speaks to our administrative acumen and the dedication of this organization to the support of our community. Since the group was formed, the grants given total over $1.5 million.