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

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

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

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

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

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

Filed Under:
Tagged With:
October 21 2015
Jewelry maker Heather Stief is a 2015 Craft Show exhibitor in the Emerging Artist category.

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

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

What do you hope to get out of the experience?

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

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

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

What sort of work are you preparing for the show?

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

Filed Under:
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.

Filed Under:
Tagged With:
October 12 2015

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

Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show Ticket Giveaway II
Filed Under:
Tagged With:
October 07 2015

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

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

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

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

How does your material inspire your process?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Filed Under:
Tagged With:
September 30 2015

In this ongoing series of posts, we ask Craft Show artists to reflect on their favorite memories from shows past. Ping Wu, pictured here, is a wearable fiber artist whose work appeared in the 2014 Craft Show and will appear again in 2015.


The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is the most prestigious contemporary fine craft event in the country. You know how good an artist is just by knowing how many years she has been selected to this show. So, each year when I walk in to the show site, I am full of gratitude. It’s truly like walking into a museum, except you can physically touch and even own a piece you’d normally admire in a magazine. You also get to talk with the artists behind those beautiful objects. They are masters in their fields, yet I’m touched by their kindness and willingness to help others.

The truth is, living and working as handmade craft artists is hard in this fast-paced modern society. We live on unstable income and most of us reside in remote areas where the cost of living is more affordable. It takes days to prepare for the production of the show, with a lot of investment. During those days, we have very little rest. Yet at this show we are treated with such care and respect by the committee members. They make sure we're well fed and tend to us like mothers. The show is so good; we are so busy that we often don't have a chance to thank everyone for making it all possible for us, but there should be an award for those wonderful people behind the scenes.

One of my favorite Craft Show moments was last year when the image of me wearing one of my Bubble Hats inside of my booth was put up as a front web page on the Show’s Facebook site. It’s still my best show picture—even without any makeup. Needless to say, I love this show, and I will do everything I can to present my best work to come back year after year.


Filed Under:
Tagged With:
September 23 2015

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is a leading showcase for the best of the best in contemporary craft, but from its inception, it’s always been an important fundraiser for the Philadelphia Museum of Art. When you purchase a ticket to the Show and take home a beautiful ceramic bowl or stunning gold necklace, you’re supporting the artist who created this work by hand while also helping to enhance the lives of museum goers.

Proceeds from the Craft Show help support a wide variety of exhibition, conservation and art education programs. In its 38-year history, the Craft Show has contributed more than $10.9 million to the Museum. 

One of the education programs funded annually is the Museum’s “Form in Art” program, a studio and art history course that serves 50 legally blind adults ages 25 to 95. The program, the first of its kind at a major American museum, offers four classes a semester that culminate in an art exhibition that travels throughout the Delaware Valley. Students receive individualized instruction as well as the opportunity to interact with teachers, staff, visitors and volunteers. By providing access to the Museum’s collection, the classes inspire visually impaired adults to explore their own artistic identities and creative goals and the result is enriching for all involved.


We're giving away free tickets to the 2015 Craft Show!


Filed Under:
September 21 2015
The 2015 Craft Show is almost here and we are giving away a pair of tickets! From now until the Show, we'll be running a once monthly giveaway. It's easy to enter. Simply use the box below. Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show Ticket Giveaway
Filed Under:
Tagged With:
September 16 2015
Jewelry artist Elizabeth Farber was selected in the Emerging Artists category in the 2015 Craft Show.

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

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is recognized as one of the few extremely prestigious and exclusive shows for fine craft in the US. I’m extremely excited to have been accepted as an exhibitor for 2015. 

What do you expect to get out of the experience?

Both inspiration and recognition. I’m truly inspired by the work of the other exhibiting artists and by having the opportunity to interact with them. Being one of the exhibitors in the PMA Craft Show is a huge milestone in my career. As an Emerging Artist in the show, I’m looking forward to meeting a unique group of collectors of one-of-a-kind fine craft.

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

This is my third career in life so I approach my work with a unique perspective. I bring my experience and maturity from other careers and an understanding of what it takes to create a new body of work. This "emerging" stage offers the opportunity to work on defining a creative voice, yet gives me space for exploration and experimentation/pushing boundaries. It feels like anything is possible.

What sort of work are you preparing for the show?

I’m continuing to refine the elaborate collars (woven of gemstone and gold beads) that have become my signature. At the same time I’m working to broaden the range of my collection—creating new shapes and designs that incorporate my hand-woven, kinetic forms.

Filed Under:
Tagged With:
September 09 2015

Ron Labaco is the Marcia Docter Senior Curator at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.

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

For me, as an object-based curator, one of the challenges was reviewing artwork from images. Sometimes photography just doesn’t do the actual work justice. Another challenge was the sheer volume: We reviewed 1000 applicants at five slides each!

What sets the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show apart?

The diverse interests and depth of knowledge of my fellow jurors was a great formula, developed by the Craft Show Committee over what was undoubtedly decades of experience. We had many interesting debates, and several impassioned pleas from jurors who were familiar with the work of some of the applicants. 

What do you look for when selecting artists for the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show?

It’s difficult for me to explain. I have a gut reaction to work after having juried many competitions. One important criterion was whether I felt the work contributed to furthering innovation in its respective field.

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

It was interesting to see the number of artists who are working in additive fabrication, or 3D printing. In 2013 I organized the exhibition Out of Hand: Materializing the Postdigital on digital fabrication in art, architecture, and design to argue that these emerging technologies were simply tools for greater creative expression in hands of talented individuals. We’re seeing that bearing out.

Filed Under:
Tagged With:
August 19 2015

Sophie Truong is the mastermind behind Stitch and Tickle and a 2015 Craft Show artist.

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

I'm a mixed media artist and over the last decade, my artwork became more and more tactile and almost inevitably involved stitching. So when I was looking for new ways to make a living a few years back (I had worked at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for years, doing product development for their shops), I knew it had to be something that I would make, by hand, and that involved some type of sewing. I experimented with textiles. One day, I couldn't find on the market a purse that I would want, so I decided to make myself a bag with some leather I had in the studio, and Stitch and Tickle was born. I fell in love with the tactile aspect of the material, the fact that it's organic and resistant, and that you could make products that are beautiful, long-lasting and functional. 

What were some of your early experiments, and what did you learn from them?

I started making bags right away but quickly figured out it wasn't going to be easy without any formal training or equipment. Classes were scarce so I had to research online and in books. I'm pretty much self-taught. The biggest challenge for me was that learning curve as I often felt I was reinventing the wheel. I still use very few machines and that can be challenging when it comes to executing designs for which you need special equipment. But dealing with those limitations has helped me develop my own style. I've always favored things that are simply designed and well made, and that show the hand of the maker. 

Another challenge has been sourcing the right leathers. You can have a design in mind but if you don't find the appropriate leather, the bag will come out very different from the initial idea. So I've had to work with that while still developing a style of my own.  

What is the sign of highest quality when it comes to leather work? What are some consumer misconceptions about it?

Because leather is an organic material, it comes with some imperfections such as scars, insect bites, stretch marks, etc. Those often  remain visible in full grain (top quality) leathers and, in my opinion,  add character to the finished product. However, some customers are used to manufactured bags produced by the fashion industry where natural marks are discarded, generating huge waste. I personally want to minimize waste and believe that while doing so, you can still make bags that are beautiful. And I hope to slowly change that misconception about flaws. 

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

The most amazing thing has been the customer's response! People have really responded positively to the quality, aesthetic and simplicity of the designs, and their continued support is truly humbling. 

Filed Under:
August 12 2015

Meghan Patrice Riley is a New York-based jewelry artist who mixes metals with textile techniques and a 2015 PMA Craft Show Artist.

Where is your studio?

My studio is located in Greenpoint, a traditionally Polish neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY, overlooking Manhattan Midtown and the Empire State Building.

I've set up a full metals studio with a soldering station, two fabrication benches, and a lofted office for all the non-making that goes with making. We also have a mini-kitchen area because snacks and tea make life better.

Why did you choose this space? What do you like about it? What makes it special?

I searched everywhere but this spot was my favorite because it's close to Williamsburg, food, the post office, the police station, the park, and all the bustling activity I need while I walk around taking breaks from making.

I love the proximity to life in NYC but I also love having this respite that’s tucked into its own small-town-esque neighborhood. The studio is filled with other makers—ceramicists, illustrators, jewelers, custom surfboard fabricators, record producers. It's a fascinating cross-section of creatives.


Describe a typical day at work.

My typical day starts with a HUGE coffee, a review of paperwork and email, and then I check in with my assistants on the schedule for the day or any questions they have with regards to patterns, making, fabrication, spreadsheets, and orders. But that's where the normalcy ends—it's a swiftly tilting and constantly changing schedule. If we're working on orders for shipment then I'm chained to the desk making and mentoring on patterns. If I'm doing a paperwork day, then I'm focused at the computer and putting out fires. My favorite days have a blend of the two with lots of walking around and drawing mixed in. I also try to not go to the studio one day a week so I can venture out to museums, galleries, and to just meet with other artists and poke around their studios.

What's the most fun/interesting thing you've done in the studio?

Play dress-up! Me and my assistants try on the work constantly and then ham it up for each other. It's instant feedback on whether or not a piece is working and it's just FUN! I definitely dress for the studio in anticipation. I make people come over and I pull mountains of work so we can just play. Because why not? and why else? Hands down, it’s the best perk of the job.


Filed Under:
August 05 2015
Woodworker Charles Faucher was awarded the Prize for Excellence in Design at the 2014 PMA Craft Show.

How did you first get interested in working in your medium? What is special about the medium you work in? How does it inform the work you create?

I grew up in the Michigan woods. Trees have been a source of material, inspiration and wonder. I climbed them and sawed them down for building projects and firewood. They’re wonderfully variable in their bark, leaf patterns and timber properties and sometimes large enough to inspire genuine awe. Culturally, we invest them with magical and religious qualities.

What was the inspiration for a recent piece?

We have had a very snowy winter here in north central Massachusetts and lots of opportunity for "snow fleas"—not fleas at all, but a species of insect with anti-freeze in its bodily fluids—to flourish on the surface of the snow. The strong contrast between the tiny creatures and the white surface reminds me of my ongoing interest in using American holly and ebony veneer to create novel effects in my work. I designed a new series based on this combination, prompted in part at least by the startling appearance of the snow fleas.

What do you love about your workspace or studio?

I have had the great good fortune of building a new studio for myself on my property in Pepperell, MA. Since finishing the program at PCA (Philadelphia College of Art, now University of the Arts) in 1976, I have occupied many spaces, many of them less than ideal: a basement in Germantown, a plywood lean-to in northern New Mexico, and old lamp factory in Maynard, MA, a drafty—and mold-ridden—barn in New Ipswich, NH.  I thought I owed myself one purpose-built space: big enough, dry enough, timber framed with 10-foot ceilings and a great view of forest and rolling hills through a south facing window. And that is the space in which I now work.

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

A mom and her daughter stopped by my booth during the PMA show.  The daughter was especially interested in my work and her mother indulged her (and me) by buying a piece. As the conversation developed, we discovered we had more in common. The daughter was a senior in the wood program at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. I was there in the mid-1970s when the then-much-smaller school was called Philadelphia College of the Arts. We had a wonderful time comparing program and facilities, then and now. I was able to assure her that a life and a livelihood in wood was possible, if not easy. All it required was a modicum of talent, and lots of optimism and persistence. 

Filed Under:
Tagged With:
July 29 2015


In this new series on the blog, we ask PMA Craft Show artists to reflect on their favorite memories from shows past. Elena Rosenberg, pictured here with Sue Serio of FOX29, is a wearable fiber artist whose work appeared in the 2014 Craft Show and will appear again in 2015.


In November 2014, I was one of several Emerging Artists at the PMA Craft Show. I had an exhilarating, unforgettable, brilliant time. The entire PMA Craft Show experience amounts to red-carpet-style treatment for the artists, starting with pre-show communication from the PMA Women's Committee and the show office, to the support and services artists receive at the show, to post-show bonuses, like exposure on this website for many months after the show ends.

Exhibiting my hand-knit clothing and fashion accessories on the same show floor as some of today's most renown artists (and my personal heroes) was, at times, a surreal experience. I got an opportunity to talk with celebrated basketry artist Mary Jackson (of PBS' "Craft in America" fame), whose booth was just a couple of aisles down from mine. I also got to spend time with, and received a very warm welcome from exhibiting artists Amy Nguyen, K. Riley, and Juanita Girardin—all of whom are superstars in the world of wearable fiber and artwear.

Each day at the show brought many encounters with new fans and collectors, and visits from repeat clients. One of the highlights was getting to style Fox 29's Sue Serio in one of my Rococo shawls for the morning TV broadcast.

Among the most memorable visitors to my 2014 PMA Craft Show booth were Carole S. and her granddaughter. Their visit to the show was an all-day family affair, and their enthusiasm for each other, and for the joy of soaking up the atmosphere of the show was infectious. They were inquisitive about styles, materials, and drape of my designs, appreciative of the work involved in creating 'slow fashion', and just such a treat to entertain. They looked gorgeous in the new merino wool, alpaca, and silk hand-knit hats they had fun choosing. I've been fortunate to dress a number of multi-generational groups of women, and it's women like Carol and her granddaughter that inspire me and my knit and textile designs all the time.

On a different note, I realize now that the dedicated people who are part of the PMA Women's Committee, many of whom I met last November, have directly inspired me to contribute more and more to the arts and fine craft community. They are among the reasons I joined the Boards of Directors at two organizations in early 2015—Surface Design Association and Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen. I am grateful to the PMA Craft Show and the PMA WC for the opportunity to showcase the designs I handcraft in my studio, and for inspiring my work in craft advocacy.

Filed Under:
Tagged With:
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.

Filed Under:
Tagged With:
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.

Filed Under:
Tagged With:
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.

Filed Under:
Tagged With:
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.

Filed Under:
Tagged With:
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.


Filed Under:
Tagged With:


© 2002 - 2020 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. All rights reserved.
Privacy | Copyright

The Women's Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art
P.O. Box 7646
Philadelphia, PA 19101-7646
Phone: (215) 684-7930

Subscribe to our eNews