April 27 2016

Despite wedding registry websites, anyone who’s been to a wedding recently will tell you finding that elusive perfect wedding gift is still tricky. Selecting an item that will forever remind them of your thoughtfulness is not a task to take lightly. We’ve compiled five memorable wedding gifts that will satisfy a couple’s basic needs in starting their life together.


A high quality cutting board is a must-have for any serious cook. Although some prefer plastic boards due to their cleanliness, recent studies have found that wooden cutting boards are easier to clean and accumulate less harmful bacteria than their plastic counterparts. 2015 Craft Show artist Phil Gautreau handcrafts his contemporary wood furnishings using locally-sourced and reclaimed wood, which has made him a favorite among the sustainably minded for years. Phil’s cutting boards not only look good, but are extremely durable, making your gift a staple of the couple’s kitchen for years to come.


Of course many couples already have basic kitchen flatware, however, the old IKEA set from college may not cut it anymore, especially after an influx of new gifts. This beautiful stainless steel set from YAMAZAKI is both functional and elegant, making it perfect for a dinner party or a midnight bowl of cereal. YAMAZAKI, one of the most respected makers of stainless steel products, started from humble beginnings in the early 1900’s in Japan. From there the company grew into one of the most recognizable names in fine flatware due to their specialized machinery which allows them to create high quality sleek designs.


Giving a nice set of wine glasses is a traditional wedding gift, but Joe Cariati’s barware selections will allow your gift to stand apart from the norm.  Joe produces a variety of barware, decanters, jars, and bottles, which can be paired based on color or functionality; each piece provides a unique contrast between the bright pastels of the glass and the vibrant wine hues. A seasoned glassblower, Joe has spent the last twenty years perfecting his glassware using a refined process inspired by an “incomparable synthesis of calculated pragmatism and essential beauty.” Using an elegant and minimalistic approach to glassblowing, Joe’s pieces add a level of colorful flair while accentuating the flavors of the wine. 


While many couples have an electric tea kettle, there is something uniquely comforting in making tea the old-fashioned way. A traditional teapot can keep water hot for a longer time and is a nice visual addition to any kitchen. We recommend two-time PMA Craft Show artist Rebecca Hungerford’s eccentric, handmade teapots. Rebecca’s designs are at times whimsical, but consistently reflect an innovative approach to pewtersmithing. If you’re looking to give a standout piece, we recommend her contemporary tea pots, which are designed with a naturalistic, instead of traditionalist, influence.


Giving a practical gift to a foodie couple can be especially stressful. What do you get someone that not only loves cooking, but cares deeply about the visual appeal of his or her recipes?  The answer may be a sushi plate set, which can either be a stand-alone present, or paired with sushi lessons or a guidebook. A sushi plate by Yoko Sekino-Bove from The Clay Studio, a Philadelphia nonprofit dedicated to the ceramic arts, is not only a practical serving plate, but also looks stunning thanks to its creative illustrations. Yoko’s pieces thematically fall in line with individualism and the importance of continuing to create manmade objects despite mass production and consumerism. And what better way to celebrate her message than by making your own sushi and serving it!

For more gift ideas please visit http://bit.ly/1q4G2FE

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April 13 2016
Michel Radyk, is an artist and designer whose sculptures, work and textiles have been exhibited both nationally and internationally. He’s exhibited at the PMA Craft Show several times in addition to participating with his students from the Kutztown University program.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m originally from Western, Pennsylvania, but moved to Philadelphia to attend University of the Arts and then Temple University’s Tyler School of Art. I graduated with a bachelor of Fine Arts focusing in on textiles, fiber arts, and art history. I lived and worked in Philadelphia for about twenty-five years before leaving for grad school. In addition to my own work with textiles and sculptures, I am a textiles professor at Kutztown University in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

What made you want to pursue art as a career?

Growing up, I developed an appreciation for the arts early on. My grandma was a weaver and I was close with a few of my older cousins who were graphic designers. Seeing my family members practicing their craft really influenced and inspired me to be more involved in the arts. My family did a lot of “home crafts” so when I went off to college and realized I could major in a related field; it was a revelation. 

How did you originally hear about the PMA Craft Show?

Living and working in the area, it was hard to miss! I would see the banners go up every year around the city, although most of my fellow art students weren’t people who were necessarily interested in being commercial craftspeople. As I started to develop my art and refine my interests I became much more aware of craft shows, especially the PMA Craft Show. 

You use the themes of dualities and overlapping in your work. When did you start incorporating these patterns and qualities into your work? Did it happen in a moment of inspiration or did it evolve over time and experience?

05 series michael radyk

What really started my exploration into this theme was the “05 series,” which consisted of large woven quilted pieces with embroidery layered on top. I originally set out to do a series of ten, each connected to an overarching theme, but this idea of dualities is something that stuck with me. I think part of the reason dichotomies appear frequently in my work is because of a hand injury I suffered early on in my career. I worked through it with art therapists using various references and resources as part of my recovery. The healing process helped me realize the importance of these motifs in my work.

You took something that could have been a huge setback, an injury, and turned it into a positive.

Exactly. The injury was both a blessing and a curse. I wasn’t really able to do much for a year and a half; I had to get the use of my hand and arm back to normal. It ended up helping me refine my work and find a more personalized focus. In a way this was the catalyst for me going to grad school.

In grad school at Rhode Island School of Design I was able to put these themes to work in my thesis, which focused on coloring, layering, and overlapping.

When did you first appear in the Show? How has your style of art changed since your initial appearance in the Show?

I first exhibited in the Show as an artist about twenty years ago with my clothing; before grad school I was more focused on wearable garments such as embroidered jackets and scarves. In 2010, I was selected again, but this time with my fine art pieces in both the fiber wearable and fiber decorative categories. I presented a variety of pieces that year: wall hangings, scarves, shawls, and other textiles.

You’ve exhibited in many craft shows across the nation, what makes the PMA Show so special?

I think one of the great things about the Philadelphia show is the commitment the Women’s Committee (of the Philadelphia Museum of Art) has to run it. There is a real personal connection which can be hard to find; when you see them it’s like seeing old friends. I also love that the profits allow the Museum to purchase crafts and put on special exhibits and events.

As an educator, do you come into the Show with a different perspective?

You could say I look at the Show with multiple eyes. I see it first and foremost as a teacher. I’m introducing students and alumni to diverse audiences, new techniques, and different ways to present their pieces. In this sense, I think about the Show as a way of professional development and personal transformation, which is something that excites me. Being an educator, I am constantly looking at the Show as an outlet for artists to develop their soft and hard skills as well as seeing what other artists are doing.  

It’s also been wonderful to introduce my students to this community of invaluable supporters. It’s great to see the community support and form relationships with my students; we’ve had instances where customers ask me where a certain students’ work is, only to find out they’ve graduated!  

Of course, I come as a shopper and a friend. I’m always looking at what’s new in my field, and there is always so much talent at the Show.

What do you tell your students in preparation for the Show?

Kutztown University Students pma craft show

The main thing I stress to them is scheduling, especially a production schedule. They have to seriously think about things like price point, color theme, and the pieces’ overall impact as a whole. This should all tie in with their more business-y aspects, branding, business cards, booth layout, etc.

Then, I have them look back at their work and instead of discarding what they’re unhappy with, we encourage them to transform or redo pieces for the Show. When doing this, they aren’t working out as many of the technical issues, but instead focusing on creating work that’s at the next level. This is something we work on a lot in the classes I teach, continuing to refine and re-examine work.  In fact, my upper level production students have a project where they create something, then redo it five times. This helps them prepare for a career in this field; if they want to be at the next level, they need to be able to recreate their work.  

Has the Show inspired your teaching at all?

Yes! In fact, this year I am planning the first ever “Craft in Hand.” which is inspired by our college’s participation in the Show. The Kutztown University Foundation's Director, Tracey Thompson, our new president, Dr. Kenneth Hawkinson, and his wife, Ann Marie Hawkinson-Hayes, attended the Show last fall and were highly impressed. We put our planning hats on to come up with an event that would highlight our students and alumni here on campus and take the program out of the classroom. We’re really excited for its opening on September 24th!

You’ve talked about the importance of the emerging artist category in the Show. Which artists or fields are exciting you currently?

Emerging artist Heather Stief, is a graduate of Kutztown before my time. Her work really struck me; it’s graphic, with a clean and neat presentation. I met her at the Show and we’ve since formed a great connection. Just a few weeks ago, she spoke to one of my classes on how to be a craftsperson and how to have a productive home studio. Younger artists like Heather are not only great ambassadors for the field, but have been instrumental in assisting the next generation.

What artists currently serve as inspirations to you?

I’m a textile person at heart, so I’m always looking toward that field for inspiration. I like to travel to see various exhibits and shows; places like the Museum of Modern Art and Design in New York, Washington DC’s Textile Museum and of course the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There’s a show right now at the de Young Fine Arts Museum in San Francisco that features the work of Kay Sekimachi, a Japanese American textile artist that I’m really excited about.

Your work Swan Point #2 was recently acquired by the Cleveland Museum of Art. What was that experience like?

swan point #2 michael radyk

It was a two-year process that started with an exhibition called Focus: Fiber in 2014, which was sponsored by the Textile Art Alliance. Similar to the Women’s Committee, this group consists of collectors, artists, and enthusiasts who raise funds to purchase pieces for the Cleveland Museum of Art. I was fortunate enough to not only win the President’s Prize at their show, but have my work considered for the Museum.

It was a wonderful journey that included trips to the Museum, meeting the curator, lecturing on my pieces, and of course many, many emails. I was so grateful for this experience and the support I received from the Textile Art Alliance, the Museum, and Lousie Mackey, the curator of textiles and Islamic art at the museum.

To learn more about Kutztown University’s history with the PMA Craft Show please visit http://bit.ly/1SF94SZ
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March 31 2016

Spring is in full swing, which means warm weather fashion is here! Jewelry in particular, is something that can accentuate any look, whether that be the early spring layers or exposed shoulder summer tops. In general, spring jewelry tends to be lighter and more reflective than its winter counterparts. Popular themes of light, maximalist, and industrial can be seen in some of this season’s most popular items including long gold-chained necklaces, statement earrings, chunky chokers, voluminous bracelets, and graphic clutches.

Let’s take a look at jewelry and accessories which exemplify spring 2016’s key motifs. 

Graphic Clutches

Bulgari’s Spring/Summer collection features an array of brightly clad purses and clutches, which are perfect for the office, a night on the town, or simply a walk in the park. Giving off a bright, cheery look, these bags stray from Bulgari’s well-known colors of turquoise and coral, yet are instantly recognizable as the Italian designer’s work. Bulgari’s spring line features bags with a snake-like brass gold plated "Serpenti" head closure and a slithering chain. While the snakeskin pattern and emblems fit the designers Greek and Roman heritage, its 2016 collection specifically fits into the season’s playful tones and loud patterns. 

Voluminous Bracelets


Any fashion enthusiast will tell you, gold never goes out of style, and there are always innovative ways to flaunt this precious metal. As spring heats up expect to see more dramatic pieces. Whether you’re in the market for chic rings or thick bold chains, expect to see this trend last throughout the summer. AUrate New York’s 18 karate gold plate over sterling-silver ring is a perfect example of this style. Designed with an eye toward the unique diversity of femininity in New York City, the designer’s co-founders create high-quality gold pieces at a fair price. This season’s line features bolder shapes and tones, which are created to be daily accessories. 

Chunky Chokers

Sticking with the industrial metallic theme comes this season’s “in” necklace and chokers: chain-links. Varying in length from a true choker to hitting just above the neckline, everyone from Etsy shops to big names like Alexander Wang are embracing this trend. This is Wang’s first major foray into jewelry, and he jumps in with a splash, creating “chunky, bike chain” inspired pieces. Complete with large chain links, and bulky locks, these brass-plated items make a bold first statement. 

Statement Earrings

Dainty earpieces such as studs and thin bands have been all the rage for the past couple of years, which has caused a reactionary period of large, more outlandish pieces. Now with the style really coming into its own, modest, more traditionalist names as well as newcomers have tried their hand at creating a splash. Rosie Assoulin, a relative newbie to the fashion scene, made her mark in playing with color, symmetry, and tone in her early lines, and 2016 is no exception. Each of her looks is paired with a quirky yet intricate brass earring, which beckons a surrealistic aesthetic. 

Long Chained Necklaces

Another variation in this daring trend comes from Genevieve Yang, who has created many works within this now chic theme. Inspired by her time in the Wyoming wilderness, Yang, a three-time PMA Craft Show exhibitor, uses the spirit of nature, in particular the moon cycles, as her muse. Her gold chains are made of recycled 18k gold, palladium, and sterling silver, the combination of which elicits an emotionally striking response. 

To see more jewelry featured in past Craft Shows please visit http://bit.ly/1q4G2FE

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March 15 2016

Welcome to our “Coffee With…” series, where we chat with past Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show artists about their show experience and how it helped shape their artistic endeavors. Today we sit down with John Riggi, who exhibited at the 2014 Craft Show with The University of the Arts (UArts).

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

John Riggi: I’m an artist and fabricator currently living and working in Philadelphia. Last year I graduated with a Bachelors in Fine Arts in Craft and Material Studies with a focus in Textiles, which led me to my current teaching assistant position with Warren Seelig at UArts. I’ve exhibited in galleries in Philadelphia, New York, and Korea. In addition to my teaching role, I am also a studio assistant for Alex Da Corte, a contemporary sculptural artist, and work in sales at 10th Street Hardware.

Q: How did you get involved in art?

JR: My parents, who were always supportive of me, enrolled me in classes at a young age when they saw my developing fascination with art. I remember being inspired by the opportunity to create something that doesn’t exist – I thought it was the coolest thing! Now as an adult with a heavy studio practice I still think that’s the best thing about being an artist.

Q: How did you get involved with the 2014 PMA Craft Show?

JR: At the time I was a junior at UArts and was fortunate enough to be one of the students selected to exhibit work in the school’s booth.

Q: What was it like to exhibit? Did you learn anything about yourself as an artist?

JR: Exhibiting at the Show was very different from my previous experiences. Beforehand, I only had works featured in a few smaller galleries. Exhibiting in the Craft Show was not only a huge personal honor, but was the first time I had seen my work alongside specific craft mediums in a large setting. It was an incredible opportunity that made me reflect on my own work and where I wanted to go next. Ultimately, it led me to pursue more contemporary and fine art exhibitions, since I felt that was the direction my work was headed in.

Q: It sounds like The Craft Show really helped refine your artistic path and where your work fits into different mediums. Since exhibiting, what have you been up to? How have you grown as an artist?

JR:  Currently, I’m working on my portfolio during a residency at UArts and installing a show for Alex Da Corte at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (commonly known as MASS MoCA). I’m very excited to be working on his new exhibit, “Free Roses,” which is his first major museum survey. This whole process has really opened my eyes as to what it takes to create an exhibition like this.

Q: What trends in your field are you most excited about?

JR: Car paint and anodizing! For those who don’t know, anodizing is basically the process used to increase the thickness on the surface of metal parts. I’m also excited about the fact that equipment and materials have become more accessible to artists.

Q: What artists serve as inspiration to you?

JR: I’m inspired by so many artists, including: Victor Solomon Tauba Auerbach, Alicja Kwade, Matias Faldbakken, Ry Rocklen, Brian Rochefort, Matt Calderwood, Allen Jones. I could go on.

Q: What's your favorite craft that you own?

JR: I own a really amazing Batik drawing my best friend did of Daisy Duck. Batik is really cool; it’s basically a way of decorating cloth using wax and dye.

Q: What's your ideal night out in Philly?

JR: My ideal night in Philly is going out and acting like I don’t have to work the next day.


Interested in exhibiting in this year’s Craft Show? Apply by April 1st at http://bit.ly/PMA16app.

To see more of John Riggi’s work check out his online portfolio at http://www.johnriggi.com/


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March 01 2016

As we kick off 2016, we take a look back at what made the 39th Annual Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show so special. Thanks to Andrea W. Silva, graduate student at  Drexel University, who conducted a survey of 782 attendees of our show in November 2015.


Thirty-six percent of survey participants were first time visitors to the Show, of which 40 percent were millennials. It is especially exciting for us to see Philadelphia’s rich arts scene appeal to the next generation of artists and fans. In addition to millennials making up a good portion of the “newbies,” they also came to the Show with an open mind. A majority of younger attendees were self-proclaimed novices and stated that they attended the Show to support a friend, artist, or to simply browse what’s new and innovative in the art community.

It was great seeing so many new attendees, and we also loved seeing our old friends! Thirty-two percent of those who completed the survey had been to the Show six or more times. Their continued attendance reflects our commitment to having diversified, high-quality crafts, and meaningful artist interactions.


Particularly intriguing is the reason behind what makes the Show one-of-a-kind: our ability to curate premier and diverse talent from across the world. This is what drives 62 percent of attendees to Philadelphia each year; to experience the best in high quality and ground-breaking art. From browsing almost 195 artists’ booths to interacting with individual artists and like-minded enthusiasts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show provides a unique setting.

Other reasons survey participants attended in 2015 include learning about up-and-coming craft trends and movements, as well as supporting local artists’ initiatives.

We are proud of our 39 years of commitment to not only artists and collectors but to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. To date, the Show has donated over $11 million, which allows the Museum to fund educational programs, special exhibitions, acquire art and craft for the permanent collection, and support many other programs and projects. We are honored to support an outlet for national artists, students, and aficionados to buy, sell, and experience art together.


From familiar faces to newcomers, the 40th Annual Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, which begins on November 10, 2016, promises to be filled with diverse and talented artists, collectors, and visitors. For information and to register for 2016, please visit http://bit.ly/PMA16app.

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December 30 2015

Are you ready to ring in 2016? If you’re already looking ahead to the year 2016, you can mark your calendar for next year’s Show. The 40th annual Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is slated for November 10th through the 13th, with a preview party on November 9th.

Artists: We are now accepting applications for next year’s show in the categories of basketry, ceramics, fiber, furniture, glass, jewelry, leather, mixed media, handmade paper, wearables and wood. The deadline is April 1, 2016. Apply now.

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December 23 2015
Wishing you and your loved ones a peaceful holiday season filled with beauty and delight. Thank you, once again, for supporting the Craft Show in 2015.
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December 16 2015
(L to R:  Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer, Philadelphia Museum of Art; Nancy O’Meara, Craft Show Manager; and Ellen Caplan, 2015 Craft Show Chair)


When you purchase a ticket to the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show or become a sponsor of the Show, you are directly supporting the work of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This year, because of our generous sponsors, patrons, visitors and exhibiting artists, we raised $845,000 for the Museum. The funds raised will support educational programs, numerous departmental projects and acquisitions of art and craft for the permanent collection. Thank you for helping make this year's Show a success!

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December 09 2015

If you’re still on the hunt for handcrafted holiday gifts, you’re in luck. This weekend, the Philadelphia Museum of Art Museum Store hosts jewelry artists Eileen Sutton and Thomas Mann, both of whom will be on hand to discuss and sell their work. Both events are free with Museum admission. And if jewelry isn’t on your list, you can still buy fabulous craft: The Store is stocked with work by other fine craft makers, including Ray Jones’ wood boxes, Kristin Gereau’s knitted scarves and Polonova hand-screen-printed trouser socks and velvet gloves.

Meet the Artist: Eileen Sutton, Jeweler 

Friday, December 11, 4:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. 

Meet the Artist: Thomas Mann, Jeweler

Friday, December 11, 2015, 4:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, December 12, 2015, 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

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November 25 2015
Image courtesy of The Clay Studio: Nesting bowls by Nakazato Hanako




The 2015 Craft Show may be over, but there are still many ways you can continue to see, experience and purchase fine craft through the holiday season.


Saturday, December 5, 11 am to 6 p.m.: A Hand Crafted Holiday

The Clay Studio welcomes the public to its newly renovated shop to meet with four top local interior designers who will demo holiday tablescapes. Tenaya Darlington, aka Madame Fromage will also be on hand to create cheese boards with local cheeses while Emily Carris will demonstrate the art of making container candles. Free. 137-139 S. Second St.


December 4 - January 30, 2016. Song of Sixpence: Thread Stories by Ed Bing Lee/Forbidden Fruit by John Souter

Snyderman-Works Gallery hosts an exhibition by textile artist Lee, who fashions Pop Art-esque objects out of knotted and waxed linen. Souter’s ceramic sculptures made from “intense and luscious surfaces” are evocative. 303 Cherry St.


Through February 28, 2016: Wendell Castle Remastered

The Museum of Arts and Design hosts this exhibition of the digitally crafted works of Wendell Castle—master furniture maker, designer, sculptor and educator. 2 Columbus Circle, New York.


Through March 20, 2016: Art of the Zo: Textiles from Myanmar, India and Bangladesh

The Philadelphia Museum of Art showcases the work of the Zo people, including traditional weavings for both daily life and ceremonial occasions in this colorful and stunning exhibition. 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway


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November 18 2015
Pictured L-R: Heather Stief, Julia Hilbrandt, Bai Yang, Nicolette Absill, Alex Lozier, Laura Jaklitsch, Elizabeth Pechacek, Rea Studio Art, Ahrong Kim and Keun Ho Peter Park.  Not pictured: Beth Farber, Chris Hughes

This year’s Craft Show featured more Emerging Artists than ever before. From Laura Jaklistch’s colorful contemporary jewelry to Ahrong Kim’s imaginative ceramic works, the immense talent on display was exciting to behold. Indeed, two Emerging Artists walked away with prestigious Show awards: Keun Ho Peter Park won the Wharton Esherick Museum Prize for Excellence in Wood and Alex Lozier won the Prize for Excellence in Jewelry.

Congratulations to all of the Emerging Artists and grateful thanks for their contributions to the Show.


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November 17 2015

The 2015 Craft Show is now over, but you can still buy work from Show artists and support the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Today's the last day to bid on items in our Online Auction.

The Auction Online presents one-of-a-kind contemporary craft objects from the nation’s best artists. Both vintage and new pieces were generously donated by many of the makers represented in the show, in media such as jewelry, ceramics, basketry, mixed media, leather, wearable and decorative textiles and metalwork. 

All proceeds benefit the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Bidding will end tonight at 9 p.m.

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November 11 2015

The doors to the Craft Show officially open tomorrow, though you can still get a sneak peak and meet the artists at tonight's Preview Party

Behind the scenes artists are busy preparing—setting up their booths and arranging their wares for display. We asked jewelry artist Liz Oppenheim what goes into preparing for a major craft show like this one:

 I grew up in Philadelphia, near the Art Museum in Fairmount, and attended the Craft Show almost every year when I was a kid. I loved seeing the artists standing next to the work they created, and listening to them talk about how they made it. And they were making art and objects for real people to actually take home to own! I've been living in California for 11 years now, but coming home to do this show is a childhood dream come true.

Preparation for a major show such as this begins before I even apply. As the application deadline approaches, I prepare and photograph the new work I'm most excited about to submit to the jurying process. As soon as I heard that I was accepted, about six months in advance, I began working on a series of one-of-a-kind brooches to support one of the pieces I used as part of my application. They explore the concepts of enfolding and opening, and I have five or six pieces in that series now. I've also developed a few large cuff bracelets so heavy they remind me of armour. Having the opportunity to show my work directly to customers is a great chance to work on new and unusual pieces, and to get direct feedback from the people who might one day own them. I've also been producing multiples of my best sellers, like earrings and rings.

But making the work is only a part of what goes into preparing for a show. Fortunately for me packing up my jewelry for a show is much easier than if I created larger, or more fragile work. I feel for the ceramicists! All the pieces I'm bringing to the show will fit in one box. There is also the booth to design and build, and that's an opportunity to create a space to welcome people, and to display the work in a compelling way. I have many sketchbook pages filled with booth layout ideas! For me, the most important thing is that people attending the show feel comfortable coming into the booth and interacting with me, and that means an inviting layout and good lighting.

We can't wait to see the final product of Oppenheim's booth as well as the work of all the other artists, finally on display in the Convention Center!

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November 04 2015

How did you start working with glass? What drew you to this medium?

I began taking classes and working with glass when I was a sculpture major at Rhode Island School of Design in the late ’70s. My studio was located adjacent to the school’s infamous Glass Program, then headed by Dale Chihuly. The material became a mysterious wonderment for me, as I witnessed cutting-edge, significant works being created by now-coffee-table name glass artists, who were then graduate students. At the time, the Studio Glass Art Movement was still in its formative years. Then, most glass artists were enamored with blowing, but few were exploring what could be done with the material in the kiln. Since I enjoyed working sculpturally with a variety of non-glass materials (clay, wax, bread, wire) and various molding processes, I was particularly drawn to works that were being created by fusing small glass particles in molds—a technique known as pate de verre, that I later embraced, have researched extensively and continue to employ as my primary studio process.

How does your material inspire your process?

In graduate school in the mid ’80s, my early casting experiments were many, rich with tons of technical glitches because I was exploring still relatively new territory. Much of my experimentation referenced my concurrent vocation as a pastry chef and cake sculptor/illustrator. I drew from the many similarities between baking and glass casting, such as making my work in a heated chamber (oven/kiln) with colorful particulates (sugar/glass) to create temporary or permanent objects. Overall, through the learning curve, I garnered great respect for a material that is technically complex, how to cultivate patience and to enjoy the advancement that comes with perceived failure. Happily, the curve continues…

Tell us about any challenges associated with and special considerations for working with glass.

The specific challenges I encounter concern the multitude of variables involved in the kiln-casting process. The steps are many, and the time to realize a simple finished object is days long at minimum and easily can extend to months. A truncated process sequence includes 1)hand-carving a form in wax to be transposed into glass; 2) the creation of a rubber mold around the wax (to preserve the original and create cast wax multiples); 3) fabrication of a refractory (heat-resistant) mold around the wax casting; 4) removal of the wax by steaming; 5) selective filling of the resulting mold cavity with multi-colored/sized glass particles; 6) precise melting and cooling of the molded glass particles in a kiln; 7) removal of the one-use mold material from the solidified glass object; 8) grinding and polishing the finished form with the use of various diamond abrasive machinery and hand tools. With a comparable skill level required to execute glass objects created via other methods, glass casting is one of the more arduous time-takers. 

What has surprised you about your own work, and/or people's reactions to it?

I find that because glass works created via the kiln-casting process are generally not shiny transmitters of light, but instead translucent and capable of holding light so as to appear to glow, that most of the viewers and collectors of my work respond with a bit more curiosity or surprise than they would to glass made by more familiar processes like blowing or stained glass. I enjoy my role as an artist—particularly informing and sharing my process with others.


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November 02 2015
The 2015 Craft Show is just days away and this time around we've come up with an even bigger and better giveaway! We've got a pair of tickets to the show PLUS a $200 gift certificate to spend on the floor. Your new favorite handmade object is waiting.... It's easy to enter. Simply enter your email address in the box below. For more chances to win, you can follow us on social media or share the giveaway with friends. Ticket and Gift Card Giveaway
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October 28 2015
David Bacharach (L) accepts the Rolex Prize from Steven Wismer at the 1986 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show.

In 2015, metalsmith David Bacharach will complete his 53rd year showcasing his work. We asked him to share some of his recollections about a life in craft:

My first time at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show was when the exhibition was still located in the old West Side Armory. I was always comfortable in the knowledge that the Philadelphia show, even early on, attracted viewers who appreciated and understood the work, even if that work did not always allow neat categorization. Knowing this, I would inevitably take the opportunity when exhibiting in Philadelphia to introduce experimental ideas including some of my earliest woven metal work works, my first purely sculptural works and my first large format wall sculptures.

On the occasion of the final Craft Show at the Armory, I plaited a 6' tall, slender sculptural form. As soon as the show opened I received favorable comments on it and quickly sold the new work. Then, during the quiet time that comes to every show around 4 p.m., a well dressed gentleman approached me. He stood, hands behind his back, carefully examining the slender sculpture. After a few moments he asked "What precisely is the function of this metal work? Puzzled, I replied, "What do you mean?” He stated that to be craft "an object has to function." Art could of course be nonfunctional, he explained, but not craft.

Considering the question, the gentleman's statement of belief, and wishing not to engage in a philosophical discussion on the nature of art and craft I replied, “it's a clothes rack.” In my home most vertical objects inevitably support the odd coat or hat so I felt this was a reasonably appropriate, honest explanation. The gentleman nodded and began casually conversing with the artist in the next booth.

Moments later, he turned back to me and suggested, "you could use a few more rods to hang your coats from.” I thanked him for his suggestion and we nodded our goodbyes. Several years later, I was offered a commission to design and fabricate several coat racks for a new restaurant. I recalled this conversation and decided to plait them of copper, with extra rods, of course.

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October 21 2015
Jewelry maker Heather Stief is a 2015 Craft Show exhibitor in the Emerging Artist category.

What drew you to apply to the PMA Craft Show this year?

This show has always been on my "bucket list" of craft shows I want to do in my lifetime. I never imagined I would get accepted at this stage in my career!

What do you hope to get out of the experience?

Meeting a new group of collectors and getting my work exposed to a larger audience is going to be very exciting. I'm also eager to see work in person from artists that I've only previously seen in books or magazines—Biba Schutz and Reiko Ishiyama have been an inspiration since I first got interested in metalsmithing. There's such a great mix of new and veteran artists, and there's so much to learn from everyone else's experiences. It’s really invaluable.

As an emerging artist, what excites you about this stage of your career?

There are so many new and inspiring experiences to be had every year, and I feel like this stage of my career will have the most rapid movement of change and development I'll ever experience. My work is constantly evolving, and my skills are increasing with every passing year; which in turn allows for my work to become more refined and more inventive all the time. It's a constant cycle.

What sort of work are you preparing for the show?

I'm expanding my nature-inspired body of work to include increasingly more abstract representations of forms found in nature. Going into the fall season there's so much inspiration out there—plants are transitioning from flowers to seed pods and it's a fascinating process to witness if you pay attention. I'm also thinking more and more about my work in the round—creating pieces that can be worn more than one way, flipped around to the back or having interchangeable parts. I want the wearer to not simply wear my jewelry, but to interact with it.

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October 14 2015

2015 Craft Show artist Candone Wharton uses slabs and coils to build her striking ceramic pots. We asked her to tell us about her top five inspirations, visual and otherwise, for her signature style.

Ladi Kwali, Nigerian potter. I went to a workshop back in the 70s where she danced around as she built up the pots with coils.  I was (and continue to be) inspired by her coiling and incising techniques.

Ancient Architecture. This image is a hindu temple from Java. My castle-like sculptural vessels are very influenced by these forms. Gaudi's Sagrada Familia is another one of my favorites. 

Nature. These terraced rice fields in Bali are inspiration for my wavy bowls.

Woven Craft and basketry, both traditional and contemporary. This image is of Balinese Basketry.

The Cosmos. Currently I’m adding a new dimension (literally) to my list of inspirations. There are some amazing theories of cosmic physics such as string theory. Each of these theories has great images of what could be, and the visual translation of folded dimensions and curved space is very exciting.

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October 12 2015

We're thrilled to announce another giveaway, starting today and running through next Monday. Enter to win one of two free pairs of tickets to the 2015 Craft Show! It's easy to enter: Simply type in your email address. For more chances to win, follow us on Twitter and Instagram and share our giveaway with friends. And there's no limit to entries so come back every day!

Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show Ticket Giveaway II
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October 07 2015

2015 Craft Show artist Phil Gautreau is an award-winning Brooklyn-based woodworker who specializes in hand-turned wood bowls and vases and serving boards made from visually unique domestic and exotic woods. We asked him what inspires him about his medium of choice.

How did you start working with wood? What drew you to this medium?

Growing up in New England, woodworking became a hobby that I picked up from my Dad. He’s an original do-it-yourselfer still living in the house designed and built by my grandfather. My Dad and I worked on projects in our woodshop and it was through his example I learned a simple concept: “build and repair,” rather than “discard and replace.” That’s also where I discovered the complexities and the tactile beauty of wood, and where I developed my artistic instinct to make functional pieces.

About 10 years ago, in the throes of a successful career in healthcare management, I started taking woodworking classes. It was infectious—I really loved the freedom to design and create something with my hands! Eventually, I was spending more weekends in the shop and my skills improved, and so a few years ago, right around my 50th birthday, after some careful planning, I decided to swap my wingtips for work boots and start my own woodworking business. It was time to return to what had become my new passion: making things with wood.

How does your material inspire your process?

My creative process starts by sourcing the wood. Part of what makes this experience so gratifying is re-imagining raw wood, whether from a large tree limb or pieces of discarded floor planks from a local residential renovation, and transforming it into an artistic and functional piece.

Over the years, I’ve developed working relationships with many local organizations to acquire wood that’s considered at the end of its useful life. A great example of this is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The 52-acre park is over 100 years old and is located in the heart of Brooklyn, only a few miles from my shop. When trees are damaged from storms or need trimming as a result of age, I work with their arborists to determine if any sections can be salvaged for use in my bowls and vases. I’m happy when these materials are used and then returned as finished pieces for their Gift Shop.

I also work extensively with local wood salvage stores to source items that would otherwise have been discarded. The advantage of using these materials is to prolong the useful life of the wood by upcycling it into a new useable piece.

In all cases, my designs incorporate wood imperfections, rather than eliminating them. I craft each piece by carefully carving away layers to reveal the unique character of each piece. The result is something contemporary, sophisticated and organic.

Tell us about any challenges associated with and special considerations for working with wood.

Woodturning on a lathe involves spinning a chunk of wood at high speeds. It takes a broad knowledge of wood characteristics, an understanding of the how to safely use a lathe, and proper hand tool techniques. So, let’s just say it takes practice! Once the exterior bowl is shaped and the interior is hollowed, the bowl is sanded smooth. It’s also dangerous, so it’s important to learn and practice slowly.

What has surprised you about your own work, and/or people's reactions to it?

I produce custom-designed furniture on a commission basis, working directly with interior designers and one-on-one with customers. Many of these pieces are made from locally-sourced wood and retain a natural edge, many times incorporating my own hand-turned wooden legs or metal bases.

Ultimately, my customers appreciate finely crafted wood products with a story. They’re not looking for a mass-produced bowl, cutting board or piece of furniture. They want to know the origin of the materials and how and where it’s made. Having the story behind each piece lets them embrace it as their own.

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