March 21 2015

Will 3-D printing replace traditional craft technique, or bring new dimension to the creative process? What does the rise of computer-assisted fabrication mean for crafts made by hand?

Join us Wednesday, May 6, as Ron Labaco, Marcia Docter Curator at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), and Doug Bucci, Philadelphia based designer and educator, discuss these and other questions about the future of craft in their wide-ranging talk “Art and Design in the Postdigital World.” This free event will be held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Van Pelt Auditorium from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.  Free tickets required.  Museum admission not required to attend this program.

Labaco was the curator of MAD’s groundbreaking 2013 exhibition, Out of Hand, Materializing the Postdigital. Read more about his thoughts on emerging technology in this 2014 interview with the Brooklyn Rail. Labaco is a juror for the 2015 Craft Show.

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March 18 2015

Juanita Girardin of New Mexico was awarded the 2014 Best of Show prize for her wearable fiber art, the first time the award was presented to an artist in the category.

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

Making cloth and clothing has been a part of my life since childhood. I grew up in a textile town in New England at a time when sewing your own clothes was commonplace and still taught in junior high school. Many of the women in my immediate and extended family sewed, knitted or crocheted. In the late 60s/early 70s my first textile art was my patched jeans. In high school I would make clothing for my friends. My college studies in textile design seemed like a natural step. My medium has been a continuous presence in my life.

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

Textiles, cloth, and clothing are ubiquitous; they are the ever-present material of our lives. We are enveloped in cloth from sunrise to sunset. To create handmade, expressive, unique clothing via design of form and surface, without moving into the realm of costume is infinitely challenging to me. Textiles, fiber, cloth are wonderfully malleable, forgiving and adaptable. The material leads the process and all the subsequent manipulations and explorations of surface and form. What do you love about your workspace or studio? My studio is perfectly imperfect.

What was the inspiration for a recent piece?

I'm generally influenced by art, interior design, fashion and environmental evolution. Currently, I’m interested in the drawn line so I've been looking at artists that use lines in their work, most recently the painter Max Cole. I have been focused for sometime on the stitched line, taking away, reductive shapes, and trying to say more with less.

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

The high point of any show for me is seeing the inspiring work of my colleagues in various mediums and meeting with my collectors. Receiving the Best of Show award, the first time it was given to textiles at the PMA show, was momentous for me of course and it led to many interesting conversations with visitors to the show. Craft show visitors are educated and informed with incredibly diverse backgrounds and a strong interest in design and material. They often have vibrant personalities and initiate conversations that lead me to new ways of seeing and thinking.

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March 11 2015

Boyd Sugiki and Lisa Zerkowitz of Seattle’s Two Tone Studios, were the recipients of the 2014 Cohn Family Trust Prize for Excellence in Glass.

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

Boyd started working with glass at Punahou High School in Honolulu, Hawaii. Lisa was introduced to glass at Santa Barbara City College.

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

Blown glass is special because it has the consistency of honey, yet it can be manipulated and frozen into shape; it is mesmerizing and amazing, what can be made out of this molten material.

What do you love about your workspace or studio? 

Our studio is a quiet environment on our property, behind our house. We love the commute, but are disappointed when we don’t get snow days. A friend built it and many artists contributed, so we are surrounded each day by their accomplishments, which we love.

What was the inspiration for a recent piece?

A recent visit to Japan, where we captured photos of colorful kimono, inspired new colors for our line. Can you share a personal highlight of the 2014 PMA Craft Show — other than winning the award, of course! Our booth was in the same section as the emerging artists’ booths. It was great to get to know some of them over the course of five days, as well as see their eagerness and excitement in being part of such a wonderful prestigious show!

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March 04 2015

Carolyn L. E. Benesh has been Co-editor and Co-publisher of Ornament Magazine, the leading magazine featuring wearable art, since its launch in 1974. The magazine's name was changed from The Bead Journal to Ornament in 1978 as the publication embraced all forms of personal adornment: contemporary, ancient and ethnographic.

Carolyn's expertise is in contemporary jewelry and clothing: she has edited and published hundreds of articles on these subjects, as well as speaking about them at museums and to related organizations. She has served as a juror for many of the nation's top craft shows, including the 2014 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, and is former president and current board member of the PBS series Craft in America. Ornament Magazine is the sponsor of the Craft Show’s annual Award for Excellence in Art to Wear.

What's the most rewarding or challenging thing about serving as a juror?

I always approach jurying as a serious and solemn responsibility to choose the very best in craft, in what is necessarily a limited, compressed time frame due to the logistics of the process. While my opinion counts, as one of five jurors it is also melded into what the other four jurors, as individuals and professionals, bring to the selection of artwork for the show. I consider my participation both rewarding and challenging. It is also a great deal of fun interacting with the jurors and Show Committee, and stimulating to see and evaluate around a thousand entrants. By the end of the day, I think it is fair to say we are all exhausted, numb and very hopeful that we have done our due diligence for one of the most important craft shows in the United States.

What makes the PMA Craft Show different?

That is a tough call. The PMA Craft Show is among the very, very best craft shows in the country. These shows hold the highest standards for selecting artists. I think one of the truly distinctive things about the PMA Craft Show is the incredible location of Philadelphia and how many of us love coming here. When I walk into the entrance and onto the floor, the energy and immediate tempo is there, yet it is also a warm inviting environment, very soothing. It is an interesting combination and hard to explain. You have to attend the show to get it. It is beautifully produced and you feel you have walked into a giant artwork. It’s a place where you are affirmed by the creative spirit and its continuing gift to life through the power of the handmade.

What do you look for when selecting artists for the PMA Craft Show?

There are universal basics in design, quality and overall execution; some that come to mind are: Is the entry well-presented? Is it unique? How well does the entry apply design principles like, harmony, unity, opposition, emphasis? How strong is the entry from an aesthetic standpoint? From a technical standpoint? There is much to assess in the practical sense, but then there is also unexplainable, when the work grabs you by the heart, and the power of it, the presence of it, doesn't let go. That is when all five of the jurors are on the same page and that artist receives the highest score.

What craft trends did you see emerging in 2014?

Actually, I didn't see any. I don't believe this is a time for emerging trends, but rather a very important period that displays the meditative, careful evolution of work. American craft is at its most refined and thoughtful after decades of change. One has to be observant about the nuances and the subtle changes that have brought us to this pinnacle of achievement. It is a great time to be a creator, and great that there are places like the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show that support the artists, and encourage the public to participate and value works of art and to bring them into their homes.

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February 10 2015

Photo above: left to right: Nancy O'Meara, Director and Craft Show Manager, Carol Blank Barsh, 2014 Craft Show Chair, Timothy Rub, Director and CEO, Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

Thanks to the success of the 2014 Craft Show, the Women’s Committee and the Craft Committee presented the Philadelphia Museum of Art with the largest gift in the Show’s 38-year history: $415,000.

Your participation and contributions helped make this gift possible. Proceeds from the annual craft show benefit scholarship, programs and infrastructure across the museum; a percentage of the funds are earmarked for the acquisition of contemporary craft. Read more about how money raised from the Craft Show supports a wide range of projects across the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

We look forward to welcoming you to the 2015 Craft Show!


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November 08 2014

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. 

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November 06 2014

Photo: Jewelry by Hiroko M. Streppone

Hiroko M. Streppone (booth #329) is the founder and president of Hiroko Designs, a fine jewelry manufacturer founded in 1984. Trained both in Japan and the US, Hiroko has exhibited her work throughout the US, Europe and Asia, and at all major jewelry shows, including JA Show NYC, American Craft Council (ACC) Craft Show Baltimore, the Las Vegas Jewelry Show, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. Hiroko's jewelry has been featured in many fine jewelry boutiques and museum shops around the US and continues to appear in many trade magazines. Hiroko is a member of the International Jewelry Design Guild (IJDG). She is a NYS-licensed instructor at Studio Jewelers, Ltd. You can preview the work of the 2013 award winner for excellence in jewelry here.

What first interested you in working in your medium?
Precious metals always had an attraction for me. The warm colors of gold, the cool elegance of silver, the stately look of platinum, working the metal in combination with precious stones provides an unparalleled excitement in design. Jewelry is functional art at its best!

What is special about the medium you work with? How does it inform the work you create?
Precious metals can be worked and reworked and transformed from one design to another while keeping its basic properties. It’s kind of a rebirth, a new beginning, an object that can last an eternity. That’s why I love it. I can work the metal until I achieve my goal and my own personal design.

What do you love about your workspace?
My studio allows me to design and execute my ideas without the need to leave my workspace-- it’s fully equipped and easily accessible. Soldering, polishing, and wax modeling all can be done in a comfortable environment right in the heart of Manhattan.

What was your inspiration for a recent piece?
Inspiration is everywhere. I draw from architecture, textile design, floral patterns, and industrial design for inspiration and combine them to make them my own.



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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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November 04 2014

Stephen Zeh is an award-winning basketmaker based in Temple, Maine. Handcrafted from Maine’s native brown ash in the tradition of Maine woodsmen, Shakers and Native American basketmakers, his work is recognized for its meticulous craftsmanship and attention to the qualities of the medium. Zeh was awarded the Adrianna Farrelli Prize for Excellence in Fiber Art at the 2013 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show.  You can see more of his work including baskets, woven jewelry, display cabinets and presentation boxes at

What do you love about your workspace?

One of the best things is a studio that has great light. Each of my workspaces has a large row of south facing windows. Here in Maine, in the summer the sun rises and sets far to the north so it rarely shines directly into the studio. In winter the sun’s rays are lower on the horizon so the sunlight will shine in and help warm things up during the day, however fleeting that is.

I work both in wood and metal and have a studio equipped for each. I also have a small space for leatherworking when I need work on a piece with leather. One of the nice things about having both a wood and metal studio is that when, say, I might need a tool for making a particular jewelry piece, and I want to keep from marking the metal, I can make a tool of wood in the wood shop. Often the tools I make fit the purpose better than those that can be purchased.

My studio is in the country with woods, streams and fields close by. Often when I need to sort out a problem a long walk in the woods will help bring clarity, whether it is in the business side of things, or how to go about constructing a piece, or a particular challenge in design.

What first interested you in your medium?

Before I was a basketmaker I was a trapper in the Maine woods. I used pack baskets to carry my tools and supplies. I was interested in how the old time basketmakers worked right from the tree. They used simple tools, such as an ax and a drawknife to make baskets that were strong and lightweight, and the baskets lasted a very long time. They also had a wonderful look to them that could not be duplicated by machine.

What do you think is special about the medium you work with?

The brown ash is pliant and flexible. By pounding a fresh cut log with the back of an ax, the wood will separate along the annual rings. These can be pulled from the log in long strips. The key to the wonderful quality of the brown ash is not only in its innate flexibility, but that the strips produced by the pounding method follow the grain precisely. This preserves the natural strength of the ash.

How does it inform the work you create?

The brown ash plays a big part in how I think about what I can do with the design of a piece. The pliant qualities of the brown ash allow refinement and control in the shape and form of both the woven parts of the baskets and in hand split and carved handles. The way of preparing the wood follows the grain so that it can be hand scraped, which gives the piece a unique and characteristic look. I take great care when weaving to orient the splint so that what was toward the outside of the tree is also the outside of the basket, which has a great effect on the look and feel of the basket.

What is the inspiration for a recent piece?

The tiny acorn basket pendant that I weave in 18k and 22k gold was inspired by the baskets made by the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot Indians of Maine. I learned quite a lot about basketmaking from a Penobscot Indian basketmaker, Eddie Newell. One of the favorite themes in the Native American work was to weave in basket form an interpretation of something from nature – perhaps a strawberry, blueberry, or ear of corn. The acorn was a popular design. Besides a symbol of strength and long life, and “mighty oaks from little acorns,” the acorn is an important means of substance for wildlife in much of the Maine woods. Deer, bear, turkeys, and many other woodland creatures depend on it to put in a store of energy in the fall to help see them through the long winter ahead.

I wanted to do my own take on the acorn basket. In the design I wanted an acorn with a rolled cap, something like a natural acorn. I made both a “full size” version of brown ash with sweetgrass accents in the cap, and also a miniature one that was about the size of an acorn.

In some of my miniature baskets I had leatherwork in the designs. For the leather I needed nice buckles to match the quality of the work, but I couldn’t find any to purchase. So I began to learn to make them myself. From that work on the buckles for the miniatures I found that metal could be drawn into long thin strands that would be perfect for weaving. I got the idea that perhaps I could weave a basket in metal, and so that is how the miniature acorn basket pendant in gold and in silver came about.


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November 03 2014

Philadelphia's 6abc previewed the Craft Show on Sunday. The broadcast features 2014 Chair Carol Blank Barsh, a visit to the studios of FordForlano Jewelry, a talk with jewelry artist Steve Ford, and a preview of the beautiful works of art by hand you'll see at the show this week. 

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November 03 2014

The cross-country artistic team of Steven Ford and David Forlano use polymers, sterling silver and other materials to create colorful, sculptural and coveted one-of-a-kind and small series statement jewelry. Their collaborative practice involves sending work between their Philadelphia and Santa Fe studios – and we get a peek into their workspaces with this video.

“While David's strength has always been to push color, pattern and surface in new directions, Steve is constantly fascinated by three-dimensional structures and how things fit together mechanically,” say the collaborators. “Throughout our collaboration, we have often looked to nature for inspiration. In seed clusters, shell formations, and flower buds, for instance, there are carefully organized parts which are arranged beautifully and made up of numerous, seemingly identical, but unique units. These exquisite structures lead us into new ways of envisioning a necklace, for example, both three-dimensionally and texturally. The work feels complete to us when the balance of elements – abstract and imagistic - comes into focus in some unusual way.”



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October 30 2014

(Photo: Wooden bowls by Phil Gautreau, $200)

Craft collectors know the price of the work they buy reflects the time, effort and expertise of artists who have spent their lives learning the special qualities of their medium, and the cost of using the finest materials, often organic or rare.  But you have to start somewhere, so we’ve put together a list for new collectors of Craft Show artists offering select pieces under $200. You can also visit Craft U to see the work of young and emerging artists from Moore College of Art & Design, Kutztown University, University of the Arts and SCAD.

Collectors at the Craft Show can meet the artists, learn their history and stories, and talk with them about their inspirations and the techniques they use to create their one-of-a-kind works.  An under-$200 purchase today can lead to a lifetime relationship with an artist and the beautiful objects they create.

Fiber Arts

Elyse Allen

Ignatius Creegan

Marla F. Duran

Diane Harty

Wence and Sandra Martinz  

Amy Nguyen

Jeung-Hwa Park


Nicole Aquillano

Theresa Chang

Paveen Chunhaswasdikul

Alexandra Geller

Will Swanson


David Paul Bacharach

Kaminer Hailsip

Robert Rickard


Josh Bernbaum

Raj Komminei

Mihh Martin

Decorative Fiber

Ann Brauer

Jewelry (Precious and Semi-Precious)

Desiree Delong

Kathleen L. Dustin

Melissa Schmidt

Dejan Jovanovic

Ken Loeber and Dona Look

Susan Mahlstedt

Youngjoo Yoo


Phil Gautreau

Ray Jones

Michael D. Mode

Steve L. Noggle

Norm Sartorius

Holly Tornheim








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October 28 2014

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.

Jenea Robinson is the media relations manager at Visit Philadelphia. She’s a proud graduate of Howard University and has worked in many areas of public relations from pharma to fashion. Besides counting down the days until the release of the next Hunger Games movie, she enjoys writing poetry and trying to convince her friends to leave Brooklyn and move to Philadelphia.

I think I chose the hottest day in 2007 to move to Philadelphia. Fresh out of college, I packed up all of my clothes and old textbooks (because every professional knows that you’ll need to refer to your old Intro To Public Relations book on your first job) and made my way to the City of Brotherly Love to become a tax-paying member of society. To be honest, I was scared out of my mind. I had no friends or family in the city, but I finally had the opportunity to use my degree so to West Philadelphia I went.

I intended to spend most of my free time decorating my new apartment. My fanciful décor plans were obviously very attainable, now that I had real job. I would buy a super cute vintage couch. Find an amazing deal on antique lamps. Start building my art collection. Perhaps purchase some grown up pots and pans. Oh, and make sure my apartment smelled like lavender at all times.

And then, I received my first paycheck. I sat in the middle of my couch-less living room floor and sobbed dramatically over my pay stub. How was I supposed to buy abstract art and a vintage couch on an entry-level salary? Two weeks later, I map-quested my way to the particleboard furniture outlet to furnish my first apartment like a normal 22-year-old. My place was full of furniture with names I couldn’t pronounce and my kitchen was stocked with dollar store frying pans. While I was grateful for what I had, I still longed for something original — something that hundreds of other people didn’t already own.

On one of my many getting-to-know-the-city journeys, I stumbled upon a little place in Society Hill that sold handmade South American sculptures, art and jewelry. One day the doors were open and a flood of bright, bold colors drew me in. I immediately fell in love with a collection of Peruvian sculptures way out of my price range.

That’s when I spotted the smallest piece in the bunch—a hand-painted wooden candleholder. There was something about the tribal colors, the artistry and practicality that caught my eye. It felt like it was made with love, by someone who truly cared about creating something beautiful.  It was also small enough to fit in my cubby-sized apartment and it happened to match all of my new furniture. I had to have it. I didn’t eat lunch a few days that week but I survived.

It was such a great feeling to go home every day and see that little candleholder on my table. The owners even threw in a multicolored candle for free — still burning strong seven years later.

At that point in my life, it was important for me to own something with a story. Artists possess the power to move you with their work and I believe that there is a great tale behind the pieces they create. You never forget the feeling you get when you find a piece that speaks to you. Whenever I look at my candleholder, I remember who I was the day I bought it, and who I am now.  I’ve come a long way, and this beautiful little work of art has come with me.

Visit the 2014 Philadelphia Museum of Art Crafts Show emerging artists category to discover new artists. 

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October 26 2014

Photo: Reading Terminal Market, Photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia™

Taking a break to refuel at the Craft Show can keep you going—and offers a chance to explore nearby Philadelphia. Chinatown and the historic Reading Terminal Market are less than a block away from the Convention Center at 12th and Arch, and offer wallet-friendly meals and real Philly flavors. You can sample Malaysian meals at Penang or classic giant hoagies and Amish specialties at the Reading Terminal Market. Here are some top restaurant picks from the neighborhood – a lot of these places can be cash-only, so be prepared. Hint: try the roasted pork, provolone and broccoli rabe sandwich at DiNics for a true Philly treat that’s not a cheesesteak, or try FUEL for a healthy alternative.


Cheu Noodle Bar
255 South 10th Street, Philadelphia
Lunch hours: 12-3 p.m. Mon.-Fri.
Dinner hours: 5-10 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and 12-10 p.m. Sat. and Sun.

117 North 10th Street, Philadelphia
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-12 p.m. Mon.-Fri.

Terakawa Ramen
204 North 9th Street, Philadelphia
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun.-Thu.; 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri. and Sat.

Xi’an Sizzling Woks
902 Arch Street, Philadelphia
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Thu.; 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Fri.-Sun.

Reading Terminal Market
Tommy DiNic’s
1136 Arch Street, Philadelphia
Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tue.-Sat.; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon. and Sun.

Hershel’s East Side Deli
51 North 12th Street, Philadelphia
Hours: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon-Sat; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun.

Dutch Eating Place
51 North 12th Street, Philadelphia
Hours: 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon.-Wed.; 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Thu.-Sat.


1225 Walnut Street, Philadelphia
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Sat.; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun.

Mumbai Bistro
930 Locust Street, Philadelphia
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Tue.-Sun.




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October 24 2014

Newstat, who holds a degree in industrial technology from Illinois State University, has nurtured an interest in woodcraft since shop class at age 12. After a brief stint as a teacher, he has been making furniture since 1987. Today, his studio is located in Chicago. Click here to read more from an article about Newstat’s 2013 Craft Show win of the Wharton Esherick Museum Prize for Excellence in Wood. Follow the artist on Facebook and browse his website to see updates on his work.

What first interested you in working in your medium?
I started working with wood in 7th grade in an industrial arts class. We were given a block of Honduras mahogany to turn on the lathe--luckily Honduras mahogany works easily. Had we been given a difficult type of wood to work, things could have turned out much differently. I was hooked immediately, so much so that my dad bought me a lathe and together, we started buying wood from around world. We'd take an occasional Saturday morning trip to Craftsman Wood Service on the south side? of Chicago where they had barrels filled with blocks of exotic hardwoods, sold by the pound. I was fascinated with how many of the types of wood had deep, rich colors and intense smells--far more intense than any domestic hardwoods. That feeling has never gone away. So really, my woodworking career started in about 1970.

What is special about the medium you work with? How does it inform the work you create? 
I'm fascinated with the intricate grain patterns and shapes of each board. I've always had trouble describing my process--how a lot of the time a specific piece of wood can dictate the direction a piece of furniture takes. The wood doesn't necessarily "speak" to me, but it often points me in the right direction. One of my clients once said, "I love how you take what you're given in a piece of wood and guide it to an interesting place." She described it way better than I could.

What do you love about your workspace? 
My studio is about 700 square feet, a small space. It's probably impractical in a lot of ways. It's behind my house and I built an addition onto it and the front doors, trying to recreate an agricultural work building.

I love to work outside--I have a bench I can roll outside and I'll do that until it's around 50 degrees. The plants and trees have matured and are almost wild, which I like. In the fall it's fantastic. Inside, the area around my bench is separated from the rest of the studio with a lower ceiling, so my music playlist sounds spectacular and I'm sort of cocooned in a little space.  I have interesting boards lined up along the wall that I like to look at while working at my bench, developing ideas of pieces I'll make from them.

I've had a fantasy for a long time of converting a building in the country into a studio space. I'd slide open the big door in the morning with long views of meadows and forest in the distance. I'd play music as loud as I'd want to and make plenty of noise, with room to spread out and work
outside. Someday.

What was your inspiration for a recent piece?
My work has gradually evolved from functional/technical to functional/sculptural. I made a series of asymmetric tables that were completely inspired by the specific pieces of wood I used for the tops. I wanted them to be flamboyant, make a statement and grab attention. Then, I made a follow-up piece but completely symmetrical, still letting the wood determine the design.  Two different points of view, but what is becoming more and more clear to me is that the exact and specific pieces of wood typically are the inspiration behind my pieces.

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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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October 16 2014

Photo: Artist Christine Rodrigues-Schukow welcomes 2013 Preview Party guests in her booth.

The Craft Show Preview Party offers attendees the first look at the works of contemporary craft by 195 of the best craft artists in the United States. This VIP opening night gala, covered by society photographer HughE Dillon for Philadelphia Magazine in 2013, is held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and is open to the public. View more photos from the 2013 Preview Party here.

The evening features a cocktail buffet and an awards ceremony where prizes for excellence are awarded to the artists. Tickets purchased for the Preview Party are valid for admission during all show days and hours.

Tickets can be purchased online or by contacting the office.

Visionary, 4:00pm arrival time and 6 tickets, $10,000

Angel, 4:00pm arrival time and 4 tickets, $4,000

Benefactor: 4:00pm arrival time and 2 tickets, $1,500

Collector: 5:00pm arrival time and 1 ticket, $350

Subscriber: 6:00 pm arrival time and 1 ticket, $250

Young Patron: (40 & under), 6:00 pm arrival time and 1 ticket, $125

For more information, contact the Craft Show office at (215) 684-7930 or by e-mail at

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show
Preview Party
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Pennsylvania Convention Center
12th and Arch Streets, Philadelphia PA 19107

Open to the public, admission price for preview party ranges from $125 to $10,000 for six VIP tickets.

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October 09 2014

Trained as a graphic designer and printmaker, Biba Schutz has been a practicing, self-taught metal smith and jeweler for more than 20 years. She’s known for combining metal with unexpected materials wearable art. Schutz’s works can be found in the collections of the Racine Art Museum, Racine, WI; Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; and Rotasa Foundation, Mill Valley, CA. She received the Award of Excellence from the American Craft Council in 2008, the Award of Excellence in Jewelry at the Smithsonian Craft Show in 2009, and the Eric Berg Prize for Excellence in Metal at the 2013 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. Her work has been exhibited nationally in solo and group shows. Read more of her bio at the Corning Museum of Glass or on her website.

What first interested you in working in your medium?

I was a graphic designer and decided I wanted to be a maker. I think the reason I started with anodized aluminum is because it fit with my aesthetic as a graphic designer. Eventually, I wanted to be more involved in the moving and forming of metal.

What is special about the medium you work with?

The hands-on quality of metal. The material can be rigid and strong, flexible and fragile, smooth or textured, and move like plastic.

How does it inform the work you create? 

The way I use metal, it marks time (memory), experience and process.

What do you love about your workspace? 

My studio is walking distance from my home. During my 45-minute walks, I explore the visual impact of the streets of New York City, while developing and resolving ideas. The studio is large almost 800 square feet, with a cement floor and great light thanks to 6-foot high windows facing south. Most importantly, it is a noisy building, which means I can make noise as well.

What was your inspiration for a recent piece?

I just finished a body of work for Sienna Patti Gallery that included blown glass. Combining metal and glass in jewelry has been challenging, exciting and gratifying.

You can preview the work of the 2013 Craft Show award winner for excellence in metal here. Check out a Q&A with the artist from the Art Jewelry Forum to hear Schutz on her new work in metal and glass, and how she fits in a full schedule of craft shows and gallery exhibitions.


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October 08 2014

Adam Crowell is a wood artist currently based in South Carolina. He creates melodic percussion instruments that are part functional art and part musical instrument. Charleston Magazine says of Crowell: “Combining his love of percussion and a lifelong knack for handiwork encouraged by his father, a hobbyist carpenter, the local musician and woodworker sculpts melodic African tongue drums that blend rhythm and song into a single artful percussion piece. Crafted with unstained exotic woods such as African mahogany, Brazilian cherry, Canary, and purpleheart, his six-, 10-, and 12-note boxed drums have caught the attentions of both percussionists and art aficionados.” Read more about the artist from the American Craft Council, The Post and Courier and the Woodworker’s Journal.

What first interested you in working in your medium?
I built my first drum for myself while working as a musician in Los Angeles. I wanted something new to play and, with woodworking guidance from my father, I built it myself. A few other percussionists wanted something similar, and I wound up making a few drum sales. When I realized that I could turn my passion into a career, I spent every free moment prototyping and refining my instruments until I had built up enough product and credibility to officially launch Boxed Music.

What is special about the medium you work with? How does it inform the work you create? 
The thing that's most unique about wood is also its greatest cause for frustration. No matter how well acquainted I am with a specific type of wood, I have to refine the process every time based on knots, wormholes and swirling grain. Wood is a fickle medium, but it's the challenge that makes the outcome so special.

What do you love about your workspace? 
My shop just outside Charleston, S.C., is in an industrial park -- a neat little cluster of businesses with everything from an Italian ice company to cabinetmakers to a private gym. Since Boxed Music consists of just me and my administrative assistant, an American dingo named Bonnie, it's nice to work within a community. Plus, I've got 1,500 square feet of space where I can generate as much sawdust as I want.  

What was your inspiration for a recent piece?
I wanted a functional piece of art that could be enjoyed by a single person or shared by a group, so I invented an instrument called the Wenzi. The Wenzi consists of three separate drums --a rhythmic high, a rhythmic low and a melody -- all displayed in a sleek, sculptural stand. Wenzi means "company" in Swahili.

You can preview the work of the 2013 award winner for best artist new to the show here. See more of Adam’s work on his website at

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October 07 2014

Part of the fun at the Craft Show is creating your own adventure in shopping, tasting, and learning. From the opening night gala to the final artist demonstration, special events throughout the 2014 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show enhance your experience.

Whether it's a fashion show of handcrafted wearable fibers and accessories to a curated beer tasting of unusual local brews hosted by Philadelphia Daily News columnist Don Russell (a.k.a Joe Sixpack), there’s a special event for everyone at the Craft Show.

Event highlights include:

Artist demonstrations throughout the weekend that offer personal instruction from some of the country’s finest craft artists. Demonstrations include a workshop with paper florist Malinda Swain, innovative ceramic techniques from celebrated potter Matt Kelleher, tips on styling knit fashion accessories from fiber artist Elena Rosenberg, and many more. 

Wednesday, Nov. 5:

Opening Night Gala and Preview Party

Thursday, Nov. 6:

Connect & Collect Corporate Reception

Friday, Nov. 7:

Fashion Show: Fibers, Fashion, Jewelry and Accessories

Handcrafted Beer: A Tasting Event

Scroll through our tickets page for all the details.

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P.O. Box 7646
Philadelphia, PA 19101-7646
Phone: (215) 684-7930