Peters Valley savior looks forward to fundraising gala

Maleyne Syracuse is a talented weaver, but it's her financial acumen that helped save an arts and crafts village

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  • Maleyne Syracuse (Photo by Marilyn Rosenthal)

By Marilyn Rosenthal

— Peters Valley, a serene place complete with a babbling brook and an abundance of beautiful old trees, is dedicated to the art of fine crafts.

Excitement is building about the gala on Thursday, Aug. 17, at 6 p.m. For many years, this benefit celebrating creativity and craft was held at a variety of other venues, such as the Walpack Inn or the Lafayette House. But now it will be held on the Peters Valley campus in Layton, N.J., in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, where quality crafts are created, admired, and snatched up by shoppers.

Maleyne Syracuse of Milford, a hands-on person deeply informed about the world of crafts and its history, is one reason Peters Valley is so successful today. She earned a masters in the history of decorative arts from a joint program of Parsons New School for Design and the Cooper Hewitt/Smithsonian Design Museum.

She learned about Peters Valley in the early 1990s, when a friend from New York wanted to learn to weave. Syracuse agreed to sign up for the weaving course with her, but the friend dropped out, so she took the course alone. She fell in love with weaving, and also with Peters Valley. In effect, she was hooked — so much so, that she was asked to join the board in the mid '90s. But, toward the end of the decade, Peters Valley fell on hard financial times.

Syracuse stepped up, determined not to let Peters Valley fail. With her professional background in finance, she imposed financial discipline on the not-for-profit organization.

"There is no reason that you can't have a mission-driven organization that is well-managed financially," she said.

With Syracuse now as president of Peters Valley, and with her hard-working board, Peters Valley has been on track for the last couple of years.

Next Thursday's gala is the one of the primary ways Peters Valley raises money to keep their classes and scholarship programs going. Twenty percent of their students are on scholarship. Classes for adults and a specialty youth program are offered as well. Classes run for eight hours a day for five days, Friday to Tuesday. The campus opens to visitors from 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, and the gallery and craft store is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There are classes in ceramics, print making, jewelry, fine metals, weaving, print-making, and — very popular in this area — blacksmithing.

Food and drinkPeters Valley will be transformed into an epicurean and artistic wonderland as guests dine on farm-to-table cuisine supplied by The Settlers Inn in Hawley. Other highlights include a selection of wine and cocktails curated by the proprietors of Bud's Bar in Branchville, N.J., a live band, and crafts on display and for sale by the artists who created them.

Guests will be able to sip the event's signature cocktail, the "PV," a combination of rum, lemon and lime juice, crème de cassis, and ginger, as they watch demonstrations by fine craft artists.

The following artists will be demonstrating and selling their work at the gala:

Matt Parkinson, knife maker,

Elizabeth Tokoly, jeweler,

Mike Connelly, ceramist,

Maria Eife, jewelry designer and maker,

Margaret Lent, woven wearables,

Martha Grover, ceramist,

Laurie Klein, photographer,

Nicole Cudzilo, photographer,

For more information or tickets call Peters Valley at 973-948-5202 or email

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