American Crafting- Handmade in America

As the weather continues flip flopping to spring, we keep the stoves cranking one day and clean them out the next. No question the signs of change are in the air. We’re spending all our time indoors working and planning for the coming months. I try to avoid looking at the little green shoots outside sending up a general alert about cleaning the  garden. (I’m not ready for that!)

Last week’s visit to American Craft Council Show in Baltimore was enlightening. As artists, regardless of what you make or where you come from, we’re all confronted with the same issues. You make it. Who wants what you make, what will they pay for it, and where do you find buyers? Everybody has stories to tell. (Are you a maker? Please subscribe and ask questions or share your thoughts).

It’s somewhat frustrating listening to the political gamesmanship right now about “bringing jobs home.” In some sense all the talk about making America great by bringing jobs back from overseas, is next to impossible because people don’t want to pay for it. Price is the immediate hurdle to clear because we’re all trained to be hyper price sensitive from a young age. We now have a couple generations of people looking for a “deal.” It’s always amazing how pervasive this mentality is -even in buying food. Having worked in the natural and organic food industry I “get” the  differences intrinsic to clean, local food and good growing practices. Higher prices can correlate directly with value and good health-things we say we want. And people still demand a lower price without too much logic applied in specific cases. Your assignment as a small producer is often to take less money than you should if you want to make your costs. The very next suggestion is, “well of course, take your production overseas.”

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Classic Hosta

As artists we put our whole selves into perfecting the work and can’t really expect to re-coup it all.  You have to strike a balance. And so we go on.

Here are a few more artisans we saw at show in Baltimore.

I had a good convo with Carol Gilbert of San Mateo CA. A solo practitioner of hand dyed home goods- her pillows are very beautiful –my kind of colors. She admitted to a fear of social engagement  doing craft shows. (Who wouldn’t be?) Successful communication at market also drives how well you sell and share the passion of your process.
I’ve always been drawn to intense colors in the  LA area. The water, sun and colors still remind me of the years I lived in southern Italy.  Environment really does have an impact on the work made in those places.

In Baltimore I also visited with an artist from Santa Monica. Fantastic colors and uplifting home décor installations. Myra is the epitome of what makes the craft art world (and by association, the mission of ACC) great. Crafts are a medium for communication with others. Thanks Myra! Now, I have another reason to get back to Santa Monica.

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Myra Burg

Several artists at show used historical or recycled items. Litchfield artist Richard Heys, displayed his fine woodwork from locally sourced material. Handsome jewelry from Devin Johnson of Makeshift Accessories, Northfield MN. Every piece is made from salvaged and up-cycled goods.

And, from PA, check this out….so cool eyewear- not sure how it works with the optician’s office but I could make it work for me. Love Ken Swanson’s eye. http://www.aristoseyewear.com/

Call Off Your Dogs– a fun song from a new album by my favorite east coast group called Lake Street Dive- graduates from the New England Conservatory.

You can see more and buy  Paola Prints here

 

 

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