July 01 2020

(Above: Full dinnerware set by Teresa Chang. More images below...)

In a wedding season like no other, creativity abounds in every direction. When it comes to gifts, how about thinking outside the (gift) box? The world of fine contemporary craft is a welcome complement to the traditional wedding gift registry. If you want something truly unique that will last a lifetime and support artists working in their craft, look no further than the artists of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. Longtime Craft Show attendee Emily Rothrock is planning her wedding and has a gift registry in place with one of our 2020 Craft Show artists, Teresa Chang.

A fan of her work, it was a natural progression for Emily to reach out to Teresa who already had a registry available to customers. “I’ve been attending the PMA Craft Show for many years, and the idea came to me to create a wedding gift registry where guests can purchase one-of-a-kind handmade pieces by contemporary craft artists”, says Emily. “I wanted to do something unique, to start a collection, and I like that there’s a story behind each piece. I feel strongly about supporting the artists and also wanted to share it with my peers to let them see another option for their registries.” Teresa’s work is modern and practical for everyday use and for entertaining. With individual pieces ranging from approximately $50 to $150 each, a registry is a great way to work with couples just getting started. Their guests can purchase gifts that are singular or part of a collection and it’s another way for artists to gain exposure to a new audience. Teresa recommends that other artists consider offering it when possible. Categories like dinnerware, stemware, and flatware work well, especially when guests can buy pieces toward a set. Artists creating unique one-of-a kind pieces may find their work is appealing on a gift registry as well, whether it’s jewelry or sculpture, or a signature piece of furniture.

Teresa designs and creates high-end, hand thrown, porcelain dinnerware in her Philadelphia studio. Her work stands out in its sophisticated simplicity, showcasing the essence of the form and structure itself. Teresa’s dinnerware has been in stores such as Barney’s, Takashimaya, and Dean and Deluca. People usually learn about Teresa’s gift registry in conversation at shows or on her website, and she loves working with engaged couples. “Just like when I make dinnerware sets for anyone, the personal interaction is very pleasant”, she says. “I love helping people design a set for themselves. And I love thinking about who I am making my work for when I am working on each piece. Plus, every customer (friend or relative of the engaged couple) is so happy to purchase something handmade and unique for such a momentous occasion. It’s pretty much a win/win/win.”

At a time when creativity in marketing and promotion is more important than ever, a gift registry is a great option for contemporary craft artists. They can potentially reach new clients, while offering a new option for existing clients. Whether or not shoppers know of the artist, a gift registry is another way to highlight individual artists and smaller brands so they can get more recognition. It’s the best of both worlds when a gift registry purchase helps the happy couple start or add to a collection of unique objects while simultaneously supporting artists.

Getting married or know someone that is?

Visit pmacraftshow.org/artists and stay tuned for our upcoming list of 2020 exhibitors to see the many artists to reach out to for wedding gift ideas!


Photo credits: Dominic Episcopo

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May 13 2020

“I knew I was dealing with an educated crowd with a sophisticated eye for fine craft. And they were there to buy.” ~ Jenifer Thoem

It’s rare that a first time exhibitor at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show takes home Best of Show. 2019 was one of those times. Meet Jenifer Thoem. With contemporary ceramic craft encompassing a fresh style and singular approach, Jenifer’s work pairs graceful design with creative installations. We enjoyed talking with Jenifer about her experience at the show as well as creating her unique contemporary craft.

“Honestly, I was just happy to be there!” Jenifer says about being an exhibitor at the PMA Craft Show. “I couldn’t believe I was actually a part of so much amazingness. It was a beautifully curated show. To say I was totally shocked to win Best of Show is an understatement. I’m still humbled by it.” One of Jenifer’s favorite aspects of shows is being surrounded by other artists after spending so much time working solo in the studio. Beyond being WOW’ed by the quality and variety of her fellow artists at the Show, Jenifer credits the attendees as being especially impressive. “My work isn’t always understood at first glance”, she says. “Because of the repetition and shadows, there’s a lot going on. The idea of a large-scale installation going directly into the wall, with no definite design or place can cause some confusion. The patrons asked smart questions and seemed to get my work.”

Jenifer’s ceramics are hand built with stoneware clay, kiln fired multiple times using slips, stains, and glazes on highly textured surfaces. Transitioning from large sculptural pieces to creating work for the wall, Jenifer discovered she still likes working in large-scale, but by assembling many (at times hundreds) smaller components in a seemingly choreographed pattern affixed to a wall.

Jenifer was raised on a farm in North Georgia, with parents who encouraged simplicity and creativity in all areas of life. Earning a BFA in Ceramics from Georgia Southern, she began doing shows right after graduating, over 25 years ago. Taking a break to raise three small children resulted in rethinking her process. That, along with a move from the country to the city and other major life changing events led her to ask, “Why am I making the same work that I’ve made for a decade when I feel like I have a different story to tell now?” She went back to square one, developing a fresh new body of work over three years. “Knowing this about my work, winning best of show at the caliber of a show such as the PMA Craft Show, is validation that I never expected, but gives me hope that I may be headed in the right direction!”

Jenifer’s work is influenced by her childhood and the encouragement to just be, and appreciate the simple things in life. She makes objects that are so common, they’re often overlooked, yet evoke emotions and past experiences. It’s the shared stories from viewers that inspire Jenifer. “If I’m lucky, I get to hear these stories, forming a connection between me and the viewer of my work.”

Though Jenifer considers receiving Best of Show at the PMA Craft Show a pinnacle of her career, she also shares that overcoming the challenges of developing a body of work, finding the confidence to put it out there, and actually sell it is a huge accomplishment. In closing, she says the hardest thing that brings the greatest reward is the difficult balance of being a mom to three teenagers and an artist on the show circuit — just making it to some shows with work is a miracle in itself!

Check out Jenifer’s work and let us know if you purchased any last year!


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April 24 2019

“I make porcelain vessels for everyday use that are both sculptural and utilitarian. I’m influenced by physically engaging textures like old barn wood or industrial flooring, and I enjoy applying common everyday materials to porcelain which is typically seen as precious.” ~ Bryan Hopkins

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show has over a dozen different categories of fine craft represented among its 195 exhibitors. Beginning with ceramics, we’ll be highlighting each category on our blog throughout the season leading to the Show in November.

Ceramics are well represented at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show and every year we look forward to experiencing the wide variety of styles, designs, and techniques behind each artist’s work. From thrown pottery to porcelain vessels to extruded and stretched slab techniques, each handmade piece is unique, whether meant for utilitarian use, display, or both. As the recipient of the Best of Show for 2018, we couldn’t think of a better way to start this blog series than by talking with ceramic artist Bryan Hopkins. Bryan has participated in the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show seven times and he will be back in 2019.

Bryan Hopkins - mug

Bryan’s home and studio are located in Buffalo, NY and he earned an MFA in ceramics at SUNY New Paltz, but his roots are in Philadelphia. Growing up outside Philly and attending West Chester University, Bryan’s trajectory took him from being a math major in college to finding his way to clay, and eventually porcelain, the primary material he has worked in since 1990. Bryan teaches at Niagra County Community College as well as workshops in colleges and art centers around the country. His work has been exhibited in national shows and he has been featured in several niche magazines and books. There was a natural segue in asking Bryan about a correlation between math and his design process. “There’s a lot of geometry in my work. The mathematician / scientist Descartes and his simple circle formulas are interesting to me visually”, says Hopkins. “However, I’m influenced more by urban environments, architecture and the elevation of structures.” Bryan loves the feeling of freedom he has in the studio to take risks, play, and explore, which has brought forth many breakthroughs over the years.

For many craft artists, there are two very different elements to their business, creating the work and showing the work. What Bryan enjoys the most about the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show are the people. He especially enjoys talking to anyone that has a passion for craft and he knows that people enjoy meeting the artists one on one. Bryan talks about the connection a handmade object has between maker and user. “As a designer, you make something with an intent or a purpose”, he says. “Take one of my tumblers for example. I can have my idea, but the buyer will use it as they see fit, such as putting flowers in it. I like that interaction.”

Bryan Hopkins - Best of Show 2018

When asked about his biggest career achievement so far, Bryan says it’s a toss up between being on the cover of Ceramics Monthly and getting the Best of Show Award at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show in 2018. Duly surprised at receiving the award, Bryan confessed he was busy eating the delicious food at the preview party gala and almost missed his name being called. “I was really in shock because I know the quality of the show”, he said. “It’s an accomplishment just to get accepted as an exhibitor, let alone dream of winning an award.” In parting, we asked Bryan if he had any words of advice for someone starting out in the world of fine craft. “Define what success looks like to you. Decide what you need in life to be happy. Find a good place to live. Realize you do not get through this life alone. Say yes to as many experiences as possible. Ask for and accept help. Understand there are always people better than you. Know your life is more than the work you make.” Thank you Bryan. Your words are vessels for many to hold in their hands.

Bryan Hopkins - porcelain vessels

Come meet Bryan and see his work in person at the 2019 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. Tickets go on sale early May. Stay tuned to the website and subscribe to the newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox.







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March 20 2018

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you eventually became interested in starting crafts and living such a colorful life?

I’m Rachel Mae Smith and I run the blog The Crafted Life. I started blogging back in 2011 when I was overwhelmed with work and in need of a creative outlet. Before that, I had never used a camera or Photoshop, so it was all a learning process. In 2014, I was able to turn my hobby into a full-time job and have been running The Craft Life since!

As for color, I’ve always had a thing for color, but I started bringing it into my home more and more when I moved from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon in 2014. I missed the candy colored homes, so I sought out to make my home that place of colorful joy, regardless of what city it was located in.

Have you always been interested in crafts?

I have! I remember as a kid being obsessed with making those DIY loop potholders, friendship bracelets, and sand art. There was always something so exciting about turning simple materials into something real and usable. I also have a bachelor’s degree in Art History, so my love for the arts has been lifelong.

What is the best craft you’ve ever bought?

A pink and grey vase from Brian Giniewski

How do you display this craft?

I really love using it for flowers, but since I don’t always have fresh flowers, I use it to hold brushes and pens in my studio so that I can keep it out instead of putting it in a cabinet in between use.

What does this piece mean to you?

I just love Brian’s work in general, but I bought this particular piece from him during a maker fair that I curated and hosted. While being a beautiful piece on its own, it also has a fun memory!

Can you tell us about some of your current or upcoming projects?

My first book, Hello Color, comes out May 1st! It’s full of colorful projects that you can make for any room in your home. I’ll be going on tour in the month of July, driving and crafting my way across the country!

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September 27 2016

We visit Ryan Greenheck, a ceramist in the 2016 PMA Craft Show, in his Strawberry Mansion studio. Located near Fairmount Park, Ryan has called his space home for the last 6 years. We spent a few hours with Ryan to learn a little more about his craft and the process that goes into each one of his intricate ceramic designs.

Ryan got his start in ceramics in his high school art class in Wisconsin. He witnessed his new 3D art instructor work the potter’s wheel and instantly knew that was something he wanted to do. This experience inspired him to look into ceramics programs, eventually landing him at the University of Wisconsin. During his Sophomore year, Ryan realized that ceramics was his passion; this paved the way for him to pursue a career in the arts.

As we enter Ryan’s studio he explains the three major steps in creating a ceramics piece. “First you have throwing, which is wheel work. 

Next is trimming, the art of crafting the tops of pieces. This is typically done using a kemper or dolan trimming tool (like the ones seen below)

The last step is glazing, which is my art’s distinguishing factor. I make all my glazes in the studio; for me glazing is the culmination of the process and all the work that goes into each piece."

When creating new pieces, he typically uses a regimented process he’s perfected over the years, with subtle tweaks depending on the size, shape, and scope of the piece in question.

“When I was first starting out I would sketch out each piece on paper beforehand. Now, I have a pretty good idea of how to create a specific type of pot or jar from muscle memory. The exception to this would be when I’m glazing or scoring – I find it helpful to draw everything out on the piece using precise measurements and pencil lines.”

Before scoring, Ryan carefully measures out the exact position of each button.

When glazing, Ryan tends to work with similar color schemes and patterns. One of his signature styles is a yellow and blue combination, which can be seen in his many jars, pots, and cups throughout his studio.

So how long do pieces like these take? “I would say it takes about three months to see a piece from start to finish. Throwing takes one to two weeks, trimming about the same. The glazing process takes a bit longer, usually three to four weeks. Then of course there’s the time allotted to allowing the pieces to dry out.”  

Yet for Ryan, he is constantly turning out new work. Each day he either throws, trims, or glazes while carefully maintaining his pieces that are in-between steps. This streamlined process helps both keep him on schedule as well as provides variety in his days.

“I typically work seven days a week anywhere from six to fourteen hours a day. I’ve been lucky that I live above my studio, and was able to completely redesign the first floor studio space. It was important for me to be able to live near my workspace, so this is really my ideal set up. I can listen to music while I work, typically high energy tunes while throwing, and more subdued music during glazing. I’m also fortunate that my studio is near a park; if I need a break I’ll go over and be in nature for a bit.”

When not in his studio, Ryan teaches ceramics at the University of Pennsylvania and at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art.

“It’s funny how it worked out,” Ryan said. “When I moved here 12 years ago, I wasn’t planning on staying for long, but now I consider it my home. The art scene here is great! The PMA Craft Show in particular is a huge asset to this community, and was a big incentive for me to move here. The Show allows me to plug into new trends in art; it really keeps me in the loop and introduces me to so many different types of exciting craft. I always take my students so they can get a feel for what it’s like to be in a premier craft show.”

In addition to finding Ryan Greenheck at 2016’s PMA Craft Show, you can also stop by his annual studio holiday sale December 9th through 11th at his Strawberry Mansion studio. For more information on Ryan check out his Instagram or his website.

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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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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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June 03 2015

Rob Cartelli’s functional and beautiful porcelain pottery was awarded the Jane and Leonard Korman Family Prize for Excellence in Clay at the 2014 PMA Craft Show.

How did you first get interested in working in your medium?

I first became interested in clay in college. Halfway through a Political Science/International Studies double major, I took an elective ceramics class and was hooked by the end of the first week. Part of the attraction was the contrast of the simplicity of clay work with my more cerebral political courses. Though there are a lot of different design considerations, a cup is a cup in form and function.

I was mesmerized the first time I saw wheel-throwing and I knew I wanted to put the time into mastering it. I just could not stop going to the clay studio. I signed up for all the classes and independent studies I could for the remainder of my college career and applied for work study positions to clean up old buckets and mop the floors just for extra studio time.

What is special about the medium you work in? How does it inform the work you create?

Clay is special for many reasons. It is quite possibly the oldest medium, meaning that playing with and using clay is a nearly innate part of being human. Ceramics are also extraordinarily permanent; any historical museum collection has pieces that date back millennia. I choose porcelain for my pots for its aesthetic quality. I like the clean simplicity of porcelain's color and texture as a foundation for my body of work. I use a clear glaze that softens the surface but allows the porcelain to speak strongly.

What do you love about your workspace or studio?

My studio is a pretty solitary place. As much as I like to socialize, working alone in dedicated space focuses me on the project at hand. What was the inspiration for a recent piece? I recently developed a new small cup form for coffee. Often, I receive requests from customers — some intriguing, some not so much. I recently started drinking espresso in small cups instead of drip coffee in a big mug. That, combined with enough people inquiring about small mugs at shows inspired me to design and make a small-sized coffee cup for my collection.

Through sketching and prototyping, I now make an 8-ounce handled cup that I'm quite fond of. It is simple in form and plays with the geometry of cylinders and squares. (Geometry was the one math class I really enjoyed in high school.) I found that, depending on perspective, a cylinder can be rectangular, so the cup itself is a straight cylinder while the handle remains circular.

Can you share a personal highlight of the 2014 PMA Craft Show — other than winning the award, of course!

There were several potters at the show last year I look up to as masters of the field and having the chance to meet them and see their work in person was a highlight for me. I also loved exploring Philadelphia, a city I really love to spend time in.

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November 05 2014

Did you catch the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show on CBS3's TalkPhilly at noon today? Ceramicist Liz Kinder and emerging artist Rachel Sherman were great!



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October 22 2014

This in-the-studio video gives us a look into the artistic process of Nicole Aquillano, one of the Show’s emerging artists. Now based in Boston, Nicole grew up in Pittsburgh, and she’s been revisiting her roots during a residency at the Society for Contemporary Craft, where this video was taken.

Nicole says she “makes work about place” and has been enjoying exploring the place where she grew up in her latest work while interacting with visitors to the Society’s exhibition space and store. See more photos and read about her residency on her website.

“I am forever influenced by my longing to return to the comfort and stability of home, which I satisfy by creation of work with the ability to establish intimate connections,” says Nicole. “I draw subtle narratives on functional work to elicit memories of times past. I create a story you can hold in your hand forever.”



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August 05 2014

Cliff Lee came into prominence in 1993 when he was invited to contribute a piece of his work to the White House Collection of American Crafts. Two years later his work was in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery. His work can now be found in several major museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibition catalog for 'History in the Making: Renwick Craft Invitational 2011' says Cliff Lee "stands alone in his sensitivity to the source and the intensity with which he channels China's ceramic past into contemporary American work."

What first interested you in working in your medium?

In the beginning, I was a neurosurgeon. On my sabbatical, I took a ceramics course to be therapeutic and then I got hooked. My colleagues thought I was crazy, but now that we’re in our 70s, they think differently. It’s been a win-win situation for me—I could prolong my career doing something I love.

What is special about the medium you work with? How does it inform the work you create? 

It’s almost like meditation—I just forget everything, sitting at the potter’s wheel. Also, I like clay!  I’m Chinese, I come from a family where my parents didn’t allow us to play with clay. They thought only wild kids out in the country played with clay, so I wasn’t allowed. But they collected Chinese porcelain—I lived with it, and was exposed to it early on. Porcelain is an immense challenge. I’m a type “A” person, so of course I picked up porcelain. I like challenges, I always want to pursue the best; it’s the most difficult things I want to overcome.

What do you love about your workspace? 

My studio is a 210-year-old stone barn that we converted. I share the studio with my wife, the jeweler Holly Lee, who was just featured on the front cover of Ornament Magazine. It’s two stories, at 4,500 square feet. We got to design the studio to be exactly what I wanted—there’s a glaze room, a carving room, a kiln room and a showroom.

What was your inspiration for a recent piece?

A few years back when I took a trip to Hawaii, we went out to look at the volcanoes, at the lava fields. I saw that the leaves regenerated a few years later. I’ve been working with lava glaze, and carving and sculpting trees, leaves and flowers.

Cliff Lee was the 2013 Craft Show award winner for excellence in design and will return for this year’s show. Preview his work here. See the artist at work in his studio over several videos posted to his YouTube channel.

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April 29 2013

Eric Boos starts with his porcelain forms - in all white - and then adds vibrant glazes in bold colors. What we're left with are clean, sumptuous lines and forms. He's a featured artist at Philly's Snyderman-Works Gallery in Old City. Don't miss him.

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