Craft in America

Lampworked paperweight by glass artist Paul Stankard. Photo by Ron Farina.

Lampworked paperweight by glass artist Paul Stankard. Photo by Ron Farina.

With hundreds of channels to choose from and amazing new series’ popping up on every cable channel, some days it still seems like there is nothing worthwhile to watch on television. One day last weekend while waiting for something more entertaining to begin, we happened upon a show entitled Craft in America on PBS. Now this is a program worth figuring out how to use that search function on your remote control!

Not knowing what to expect, we settled in to watch the episode entitled ‘Origins’, and were entranced by the stories of the potters behind Jugtown Pottery, a blacksmith from Charleston, South Carolina, a bead artist re-interpeting Kiowa traditional beadwork, a weaver inspired by the ethnic textiles encountered in his travels, and a glass artist continuing the centuries old lampwork tradition. Some of the artists seem to have been born to their craft; others finding inspiration on their journey through life, but all were absolutely transformed when they found their chosen medium, speaking wonderful stories through their art, and passing the skills on into the future.

Beaded high-top sneakers by bead artist Teri Greeves.

Beaded high-top sneakers by bead artist Teri Greeves.

When the credits rolled, I immediately began to look for other episodes. A quick on-line search turns up the website www.craftinamerica.org and the information that there have been 13 episodes of this Peabody Award-winning series produced by PBS since 2007. In an era where so many express concern with where something is made, how something is made, is a much deeper thing altogether. The artists and the work seen in this series will speak to your soul, and inspire your eyes and your hands to pick something up and give it a go.

 

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Marching into the New Year!

Making a 1/12 scale lobster trap will be the focus of a 12 hour class taught by Bonni Backe at Guild School 2015.

Making a 1/12 scale lobster trap will be the focus of a 12 hour class taught by Bonni Backe at Guild School 2015.

I don’t know about you, but I keep several ‘calendars’ in my brain, and run into trouble when I forget that, say, April on the miniatures calendar is the same April on the birthday calendar. For example, on the miniatures calendar, the month of  April means the Chicago International Show giving me, right now, about 3 months to think about making a new display and new merchandise. I get fully absorbed working on that and totally forget that on the birthday calendar, my husband’s birthday falls in that last week before the show. Poor man. Its usually just a couple of days before his birthday when the calendars mesh and I panic.

In any case, that’s still 3 months away, so… the miniature calendar has flipped over to a new year, and is starting off with a bang. Guild School class assignments are being received around the globe and that launches many a new to-do list, depending on whether you are a student or a teacher, or in my case this year, both. I can rejoice that I got into my first choice class, and not worry about that further until a tool list arrives sometime in the next few months. In the same packet, I received a list of students who’ve signed up for the class I’ll be teaching, and that kick starts another major to-do list for me. That tool list I’ll be receiving from my teacher, I need to send one out to my students. That means I need to start planning the exact processes that will be covered in class.

A fisherman's cabled sweater in 1/12 scale is the end project of Althea Crome's 24 hour class at Guild School 2015.

A fisherman’s cabled sweater in 1/12 scale is the end project of Althea Crome’s 24 hour class at Guild School 2015.

I need to start assembling materials. While ‘kits’ are discouraged, you cannot reasonably expect students from varied locations with varied access to supplies, to gather and bring a long list of materials, some that may not be easy to locate. Instructors gather materials for general class use; they’ve most likely already sourced them in order to make the class prototype; and are re-imbursed for them through class fees. This way teachers can be certain that everyone will be working with the same materials and progress will not be hindered by having to find work-arounds.

And, I need to start writing instructions. Every student will not work at the same speed-some are jackrabbits and others more methodical, so providing written instructions ensures that those who are waiting for the next demonstration, may proceed with another task instead of twiddling their thumbs. Another reason for having good printed instructions is the very real possibility that the project will not be 100% complete at the end of class; in that case, students must be able to complete the projects at home, and while no one can guarantee that they will have time to do it while the process is fresh in their memories, written instructions ensure that they will be able to pick it up again when their schedule allows.

So, hup, two, three, four, its time to get cracking. Oh, and let me not forget that while June means Guild School-it also means number one son’s birthday!

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London, Classes AND a Miniatures Show?

A carved Welsh chest from the Elizabethan period, carved by Ann High, IGMA Fellow member.

A carved Welsh chest from the Elizabethan period, carved by Ann High, IGMA Fellow member.

In a scant few months, IGMA will again be part of a most wonderful trifecta, the marvelously fascinating city of London, England, the Kensington Dollshouse Festival and your choice of 5 classes taught by experienced IGMA teachers. The Guild first ventured across the pond with an educational program in the spring of 2014 and met with such resounding success, that they have lined up four more fantastic teachers and a total of 5 great classes for you to select from in 2015.

Ann High, who has crossed the pond in the opposite direction for the last few years to teach furniture carving at Guild School, will be teaching the carving and construction of a Elizabethan period Welsh chest on her home turf. Ann is a very calm and reassuring teacher and when you’ve got a very sharp little chisel in your hands that is a great comfort.

A veritable feast, in miniature, by Christina Minischetti, IGMA Fellow member.

A veritable feast, in miniature, by Christina Minischetti, IGMA Fellow member.

Christina Minischetti will be traveling just a tad further than Ann,  traveling to London from her home in Italy with a really interesting project, the reproduction of an Italian charcuterie table for you to recreate in 1/12 scale. Christina has developed a number of truly innovative methods for creating convincing textures for miniature food.

A dollshouse for a dollshouse, 1/144 scale drawing room by Nell Corking, IGMA Fellow member.

A dollshouse for a dollshouse, 1/144 scale drawing room by Nell Corking, IGMA Fellow member.

Nell Corkin and Bonni Backe both hail from two of the colder locales in the U.S.  Nell from the upper mid-west, will be offering two classes working in 1/144 scale, one is two-day class creating a drawing room, the other, a one-day class creating a Christmas vignette under a dome. Under her expert tutelage you will find your fingers really can work in this most minute scale.

Bonni Backe, one of our Guild School locals from the state of Maine, will bring her ever creative textile skills to London to show her students how to create various and sundry haberdashery trims, otherwise known as notions or passementerie, depending on where you live. With a whole host of tools from looms to cord twisters and an assortment of jigs, Bonni will reveal the methods by which a whole host of trims can be turned out for your 1/12 scale projects.

The program will be taking place May 12-14, 2015, at the Kensington Close Hotel, a short couple of blocks from the location of the Kensington Dollshouse Festival. Enrollment is open and spaces in the classes are being filled in the order in which registrations are received. Visit the IGMA website for all details, including a special rate on rooms for the Kensington Close Hotel.

 

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