December 09 2015

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

Meet the Artist: Eileen Sutton, Jeweler 

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

Meet the Artist: Thomas Mann, Jeweler

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Through February 28, 2016: Wendell Castle Remastered

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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November 17 2015

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

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

All proceeds benefit the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Bidding will end tonight at 9 p.m.

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November 11 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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November 04 2015

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

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

How does your material inspire your process?

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you hope to get out of the experience?

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

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

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

What sort of work are you preparing for the show?

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

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October 14 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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October 12 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

How does your material inspire your process?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

 

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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.

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

 

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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
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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

 

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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. 

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