We continue our blog series celebrating the power and beauty of handmade objects, titled “The Best Craft I Ever Bought.” In this series, creative and passionate Philadelphians tell us the stories behind the craft objects they’ve welcomed into their lives and what the objects mean to them.
Megan Brewster graduated from Tyler School of Art in 2000, with a B.F.A. in Ceramics. After graduation she helped run the gallery at The Clay Studio in the Old City section of Philadelphia. She continued to develop her own work on the side, but found it frustrating and difficult to do so without adequate studio space. She also found that there were limited venues in Philadelphia for the type of work that she was creating. She joined forces with Erin Waxman and began selling her work at a series of local craft shows that they had developed. In 2004, the two decided to open up their own gallery and boutique, Art Star.
I spend a good amount of my time looking at art and craft. At Art Star, we go through hundreds of applications to choose artists to participate in our now biannual Art Star Craft Bazaar. I see a mix of really strong work that is interesting and well crafted, a good amount of work that hasn’t changed or evolved over the years, and plenty of not-so-great work. Every once and while I open up a new application and the work is so fresh and exciting, it gives me chills. These are the moments I live for. This is why I do what I do. This is what happened a few years ago when I opened up Jordan Elise Perme’s application for her new company called Horrible Adorables.
Horrible Adorables is a line of faux taxidermy. Each mounted beast has been dreamed up entirely by Jordan but because they are reminiscent of existing animals or some animal hybrid, they seem like they could possibly exist in some fantastical far away land. The form is first sculpted in Styrofoam and then covered in colorful felt scales. Real glass taxidermy eyes, made for specific real-life animals, are added and in my opinion really make each piece. They add to the authenticity of the character and make you believe that they really could exist somewhere. At first glance, the colorful palette and playful forms suggest a docile, even friendly creature. One look in those eerie, unblinking glass eyes show that, though magical, these are wild beasts that you don’t want to mess with.
Of course, Horrible Adorables was chosen to participate in our bazaar and purchasing one of her sculptures was my first priority. I chose an adorably awkward, freestanding squirrel or ferret type creature with long pointy claws (pictured). I tend to like things that are a little “off” and the pink/red color palette really appealed to me. I was just as smitten with the artist herself, who is equally as charming as her quirky creations. I wasn’t surprised to learn that she is also a freelance toy and fabric designer by day. I have a giant toy collection, so this only solidified my love for her. We became fast friends. She and her husband always stay with me when they are in town and we always make sure to meet up if we are both traveling to the same craft shows.
I have since started a collection of her work but this first one that I purchased is really important to me. It isn’t by any means her best piece – her craftsmanship has gotten tighter, the presentation and design more polished, and now each critter comes with its own name and date of when it was “caught”. Now when we get them in the gallery, we can’t hold onto them. Customers flock to the shop when we get a new batch in. This imperfect little critter is so special to me because it was one of the first that started it all. What Jordan has created with Horrible Adorables is really magical and this piece will always remind me of those chills I got when I opened her application.
Visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show this weekend to see original, handmade objects in the mixed media category available from our 2014 artists.