Maine Barn Baskets
99 Parlin Hill Rd
New Vineyard, Maine
“The trinkets say something to me.”
Baskets, handwoven and incorporating found objects to adorn them. Ax handles, pitchfork heads, antlers, fly rods and more create functional and whimsical art pieces, each one unique.
Melissa Shea is diligently working. At everything. Rangeley folks know her smiling face from visits to the weekly Rangeley Farmers Market where she sells her organic produce, harvested honey, heirloom salsas and handmade lip balms and salves. She will greet you over dinner at Forks in the Air Mountain Bistro where her farm is mentioned in the menu and, if she’s not busy covering too many tables, fill you in on the details of her latest project or expedition. In May 2018 Melissa was the featured artist at the Lakeside Contemporary Art Gallery with an exhibition of her handcrafted baskets.
Never completely sidelined, Melissa did have to stay put one winter while recuperating from an injury. Thus began an intensive study of the art of basket-making. A dedicated conservationist, she knew her materials had to be locally sourced, sustainable and conscientiously processed. Inspired by the practical uses of traditional basketry, Shea went about incorporating vintage farm tools and unique pieces from the past into making her baskets, in dedication to functionality. Her lines and weaving explore a variety of patterns, exhibiting unwavering attention to detail. Sturdy and precise, each basket is intelligently crafted in forms and colors of timeless style. Shea’s basket handles are a departure from the usual yet these repurposed implements stay true to her preservationist objectives. Her recently finished laundry basket uses pulp hooks from the logging industry as handles. Other baskets have integrated vintage drills, rolling pins, door handles, garden claws, and of course antlers and other pieces and bits Melissa Shea finds outdoors working her beloved Maine land.
A graduate of Colby College, Melissa Shea is a certified organic farmer with 150 acres of farmland and forests to oversee. Her crops at The Mountain Farm include vegetables and herbs, apples, cherries, pears, hops, blueberries, strawberries, honey and cider. Her 43 acre tract in New Vineyard is 100 percent solar and wind powered. She is a Registered Maine Guide and with her Australian Shepherds, a volunteer with Maine Search and Rescue Dogs and Franklin Search and Rescue. Melissa Shea recently returned from Nepal, where she leads mountain climbing expeditions to Everest Base Camp and the Goyko Lake region .