July 22 2015

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is thrilled to announce the exhibitors for the 2015 Craft Show. Selected from a thousand applicants, this year’s lineup represents 195 of the very best craft artists in the United States, including 48 artists who are new to the Show, with twelve in the Emerging Artist category, the largest number to date. All will display their finely made wares at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, November 12th to 15th.

Selected works span categories such as glass, ceramic, wood, basketry, wearable and decorative fiber, metal, paper and leather, as well as furniture and jewelry. The 2015 Craft Show welcomes back many returning artists as well as student artists from Tyler School of Art Temple University, Moore College of Art & Design, Kutztown University and Savannah College of Art and Design.

Among this year’s exciting additions to the Emerging Artist category are:

Beth Farber’s textile-like jewelry, woven with precious metals and gemstones

Ahrong Kim’s figurative ceramic sculpture

Chris Hughes’ vintage-inspired bags

Alexandra Lozier’s blown-glass and metal assemblages evoking the natural world

See the full artist list here

Learn more, or buy tickets to this year's Craft Show here.

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July 15 2015
Vicki Essig, an emerging artist from Asheville, NC, received the 2014 Adrianna Farrelli Prize for Excellence in Fiber Art.

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

As a new mom, and new to the mountains of western North Carolina, I went looking for community. Wanting to explore my creative side, I started taking classes in the professional crafts department at the local community college. I fell in love with the loom, its quiet rhythm and contemplative nature.

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

The fine silk used in my weaving provides a delicate yet strong foundational layer. As I incorporate natural objects I can create a quiet, peaceful place to explore what is usually overlooked.

What do you love about your workspace or studio?

A lot of my workspace is in the woods. I hike everyday, gathering and hunting. I’m always excited to empty my pockets onto the tables of my studio.

What was the inspiration for a recent piece?

Over the Christmas holiday I was happy to spend time with my mother-in-law. She is wise and warm. She meditates, walks and offers a kind smile. Walking in a park near her home I took the opportunity to collect some local dogbane. The pods were dried, brown and gold, with airy wispy seeds. They are now captured between glass, reminding me of that day.

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

I am always happy to share stories about my work and how I make it. I am often surprised by the diversity of people that are attracted to my work. At the PMA show a very elderly, extraordinary gentleman engaged with me for sometime. I now wonder where he hung the piece he took with him and imagine his kind nature keeping it company.

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July 08 2015

Brother and sister team Nile G. and Michelle Fahmy of Salt Lake City’s Tattooed Tinker Studio received the 2014 Eric Berg Prize for Excellence in Metal.

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

We’re siblings and we shared a lot of experiences growing up together. From an early age, we were both fascinated by craftsmen, by people who could make masterful things out of virtually nothing. But the people who always captured our imagination the most were those who hammered metal. The resistance of the material, the force generated by the smith, the deliberate striking of the hammer blow — all of these things were magical to us. The skills we witnessed overwhelmed us as being too rarified, too elevated to be attained. And yet, the simplicity of the tools and the availability of the materials whispered a different message: that we could be smiths, too.

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

There are many artists who identify with having either an additive or a subtractive process — adding material to or taking material away from a final form. Our work is metamorphic.

We begin our process with a piece of sheet metal and we end our process with a finished vessel. All that we add is our labor, and all that we take away is a drive to further perfect our technique. The faces of our hammers and stakes, the clarity of our vision, and the strength of our bodies are co-conspirators in our creative process. The metal is quiet compared to the influence of these factors. It rarely has an opposing view. In contrast, a particular hammer might clamor for attention and beg to be used. It is this dynamic that guides us through our work. Listening to the tool, feeling the inspiration, and acting upon an otherwise unassuming material until it becomes something more.

What do you love about your workspace or studio?

Without question, the hammer rack holds a place of honor in our studio. The hammers rest in the rack with their faces all turned toward our shared work area. The handles of the hammers are all different lengths and different colors, but lined up in the rack they appear like keys on a keyboard, or like some strange xylophone waiting to be played. The sounds of the hammers entering and leaving the rack are the soft percussive rhythm of a productive workday. And when the work falters or the vision wavers, it is the silence of the hammer rack that promises a solution—the rows of hammer faces, lined up, willing to inspire, and ready to restore the heartbeat of the studio.

What was the inspiration for a recent piece?

Our most recent series of vessels is inspired by the simple elegance of a dancing couple. The Dance series allows the viewer the space to have an emotional response to a single line of a piece without distraction. It’s not a series that overpowers with displays of technical prowess; it’s not an overly full canvas. It’s the slightly imperfect balance of two people meeting in dance, each having one foot perched forward and one back—the subtle, non-uniform spin of a pirouette that never makes it onto a stage; the grandeur of quiet love and compromise played out to the music that no one else could hear. And so far, we have been very pleased with the response the series has received.

Can you share a personal highlight of the 2014 PMA Craft Show?

There was a couple who visited our art booth several times. They were clearly debating the merits of particular pieces in which they were interested. They would quietly chat, depart, return, and chat again. We can't recall how many return trips they made, but finally they returned to purchase one of our pieces. When they indicated which one they wanted, they said, “we want you to know that we only collect glass.”

They had come to this prestigious art show intent on glasswork. They were collectors of glass artists. Glass is an amazing medium, and it is one that we both greatly admire. But our metalwork looks nothing like glass. It was significant to us that our artwork had captured them both. That they had looked beyond their preferred medium and found a place for metalwork in their collection. It was a highlight of the event for both of us.

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July 01 2015

2015 PMA Craft Show Juror Tina Oldknow is the senior curator of modern and contemporary glass at Corning Museum of Glass. She has authored many publications on the subject and edits New Glass Review with Richard Price.

What’s the most rewarding or challenging aspect of serving as juror?

Rewarding: Looking at and talking about work with the other jurors. Challenging: Having to make hard choices, because I know people’s livelihoods are at stake.

What sets the PMA Craft Show apart?

It is carefully curated by a jury of people who do not think alike but who all know the field.

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

Original ideas, quality, beauty. I look for the antithesis of kitsch.

What craft trends have you seen emerging among this year's applicants?

I saw some—and would like to see more—craft emphasizing a design aesthetic. I’d like to see more interconnections between craft and design.

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June 24 2015

Woodworker David Talley of Tenants Harbor, Maine, was awarded the 2014 Louise K. Binswanger Prize for Best Artist New to the Show.

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

What I essentially do now is functional sculpture in wood. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, the origins of the work come from my experience as a young dental student, infatuated with the shape and curves of teeth, and then later, as a boatbuilder and world-cruising sailor, with a deep appreciation for the appealing shape of boats. In the later stage of my boating days, while living aboard ship I spontaneously began making sculptural furniture. Soon after I was introduced to the books of furniture guru James Krenov and began to develop a profoundly intimate appreciation for the visual qualities of wood. Over the years, I have realized that the amazing beauty of particular woods can be enhanced through sensitive combination with other woods and, when presented in engaging forms, can create sculpturally evocative functional art.

What is special about the medium and how does it inform the work?

In what I do, wood is the star of the show. This work would not be if not for the wonders of wood. My job is to present it in as engaging a format as possible. Fortunately, I have discovered forms that by virtue of their balance and harmony reflect some essential wholeness we all, at our core, share and are attracted to. When the wonders of wood combine in these forms, there is art.

What do you love about your studio?

I love the small size and efficient layout of the studio and the intimacy I feel there. It's in the studio, more than anywhere else, that I can be present and feel a strong sense of completion; contentment. It's also nice that it is surrounded with gardens half the year, gets ample direct sunlight and is connected by a breezeway to the house in which I live.

What was the inspiration for a recent piece?

Inspiration for me often comes from a visceral or kinesthetic sense. It's not so much that I can see the piece — rather, I feel it. For the past couple of weeks I've been indulging in a yearning to manifest pieces that are earthy/organic; something like a blend of Asian and African influences. I don't yet have the words for the style, but so far I'm loving what I'm seeing.

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

What stands out for me from the 2014 PMA Craft Show is the overall quality of the experience; it simply was a step beyond any other show in which I have exhibited. The fellow exhibitors, the show staff, the organization of the event, the sponsorship, the venue, the exhibitor lounge and the overall energy were all extraordinary.


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June 17 2015

2015 PMA Craft Show Juror Don Miller is an artist and associate professor at The University of Arts. His sculpture and furniture works are inspired by a broad range of historical woodworking practices and have been shown in New York, Boston and the upper Midwest.

What’s the most rewarding or challenging aspect of serving as juror?

There are tons of entries, many of them similar. Working with a group at speed really sharpens one's eye for what excels in concept and/or execution—and, upon discussion/reflection, why. This is great practice for both intuitive and considered insight into my own working process.

What sets the PMA Craft Show apart?

The Philadelphia community, a world class museum and the professional and cultural commitment of the Women's Committee; knowledge of the show’s audience and a willingness to challenge it; and great jurors (of course) all set the show apart.

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

I look for work that goes beyond simple technique or blends technique with "concept.” I’m not necessarily looking for “ideas” but an inquisitive attitude towards materiality, history, function, etc.

What craft trends have you seen emerging among this year's applicants?

Some of the best work by young artists exhibits subjective commitment to process, fresh use/reuse of materials, digital fabrication as a tool, and consideration of the dialogue between product and autonomous object.

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June 10 2015

Copyright: Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / BUS, Stockholm


The 2015 PMA Craft Show may still be a few months off, but you can start getting your eye candy fix now, with a host of great art and craft events lined up during the summer months in the Philadelphia region. Here are six we’re looking forward to:


[FIBER]  At The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Both/And Richard Tuttle Print and Cloth explores the contemporary art of textile enthusiast Richard Tuttle through installations spanning five decades. Through summer 2015.

[CERAMICS] Rebecca Hutchinson: Abundance, on view at The Clay Studio, explores the artist’s concerns with ecosystems and environmental conservation through an innovative paper clay technique that produces delicate organic forms. June 5-June 28

[WOODWORKING] At The Center for Art in Wood, Other Selections: Local Artists Respond to the Museum Collection continues, showcasing 19 young Philadelphia artists’ work in drawing, printmaking, sculpture, video and photography influenced by the museum’s permanent collection. Though July 18.

[DESIGN] The PMA’s Northern Lights: Scandinavian Design exhibition highlights Scandinavian Design from the early 20th century through now, examining the distinct styles and traditions of its five nations (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland.) Through October 4.

[GENERAL] On view at Snyderman-Works Galleries50 Years of Works celebrates five decades of the galleries’ history and looks back on memorable crafts in ceramics, glass, jewelry, fiber and wood. Through June 27.

[GENERAL] Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen 2nd Annual MakersFest. June 14, 2015, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lancaster, PA 

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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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May 19 2015
Doug Bucci’s white neckpiece, part of his Islet series, is made from glass-filled nylon and produced on a 3D printer.


If you were worried that technology might be sucking the life out of craft, don’t.

“It’s the opposite. If the digital age was perceived as dehumanizing and the removal of the hand, the postdigital age is about humanizing technology, and using it for the betterment of people,” says Philadelphia-based artist and educator Doug Bucci.

During the Wednesday, May 6th talk at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Bucci and Ron Labaco, the Marcia Docter Curator of the Museum of Arts and Design explored the ways in which computer-assisted technologies might impact craft as we know it. Bucci was pleased to note the talk drew artists and craft connoisseurs as well as a group of scientists in town for an organ transplant conference—a sign, he says of 3D technology’s crossover appeal.

So where exactly is 3D printing going in the world of craft and what can visitors to this year’s Craft Show expect?

“It’s becoming far more ubiquitous than it was—3D printers are really part of the collective consciousness at this point,” he says. “Within the craft world this technology is becoming part of the artist’s studio. Whether it’s laser cutting or extruding thermal plastics or layering resins, we’re going to see more of this kind of work, because now artists can create objects they can’t create by any other means.”

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May 05 2015

Philadelphia designer and educator Doug Bucci works with a student in a metals class.

Calling all craft makers and craft connoisseurs: Join us this Wednesday, May 6, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a discussion about craft in the post-digital age. We’ll be reflecting on the role of 3-D printing in the creative process, and particularly its implications for crafts made by hand. 

In their wide-ranging talk “Art and Design in the Postdigital World,” Ron Labaco, Marcia Docter Curator at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), and Doug Bucci, Philadelphia-based designer and educator, will address these and other questions facing contemporary craftspeople.

This free event will be held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Van Pelt Auditorium. Tickets can be picked up inside the museum and reserved in advance by calling 215-235-SHOW. Tickets can also be reserved online for a small handling fee. 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 25 2015

photo: Lin Xu, Chance at The Clay Studio

Philadelphia’s noted museums and galleries showcase craft this spring, inspiring everything from collaborations in clay to artistic responses to a single poplar tree.

[DESIGN] Practical, functional and simply beautiful, the wildly popular design sensibility of the Nordic countries has helped define the look of the modern world. Opening May 23, the Philadelphia Museum of Art surveys Scandinavian design from its triumphant showing at the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris to the present day in Northern Lights: Scandinavian Design.

[WOODWORKING] The Center for Art in Wood explores new directions this spring, collaborating with 19 young Philadelphia-based artists who work in drawing, sculpture, printmaking, video, and photography – everything, in fact, except wood – to create responses to the Center’s Permanent Collection in Other Selections: Local Artists Respond to the Museum Collection (May 1 – July 18). With this exhibition and other initiatives, the Center seeks to make their outstanding collection an engine for contemporary creative activity.

A single tulip poplar tree is the inspiration for the work of more than 40 contemporary woodworkers at Historic Yellow Springs, presented by the Wharton Esherick Museum, May 21 – June 10. In Poplar Culture: the Celebration of a Tree, the tree that stood outside Esherick’s studio door is honored by work from celebrated artists that range from furniture to woodblock prints and sculpture. Artwork will be available for sale, with proceeds to benefit the Wharton Esherick Museum and Historic Yellow Springs.

[CERAMICS] The Clay Studio celebrates the 10th anniversary of Small Favors (April 3 – 26), an exhibition that challenges artists to work in a different scale: within a 4-inch acrylic cube that provides a limitation that must be rigorously adhered to or creatively worked around. Works by a range of notable ceramic artists are also on display: Richard Nickel and Matthew Causey (April 24 – May 31), Ruan Hoffman (April 24 – May 31) and Adam Field (May 1 – 31).

Snyderman-Works Galleries present A Collaboration in Clay: Pam Lethbridge and Scott Rosenthal (April 3 – 25), joint works that combine the interests of these two artists and friends: Rosenthal hand-building a series of ceramic structures and Lethbridge integrating the forms with her own figurative elements. In Wearable Objet d’Art (April 3-25), Katheen Dustin, a world-class designer and scholar in the history and use of polymers in contemporary design, and a 2014 PMA Craft Show exhibitor, has created a stunning collection exploring questions posed by the natural world of daily life and the material culture of women. And don’t miss 50 Years of Works (May 1 – June 30), a celebration of the gallery’s 50th anniversary.

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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 stephenzeh.com

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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