Editor’s Miscellany: Crafty Changes

December 22, 2011

By Kyle Hoepner

It used to be that, whenever I visited a craft fair, I felt trapped in a nightmare episode of That ’70s Show crossbred with a Wendell Berry opium dream. As I examined the legions of earnestly carved freeform serving spoons and speckled pottery bowls incised with happy flower patterns, somewhere in the back of my mind I’d keep hearing, over and over, that tearful reflection by Lu-Lu Fishpaw, Divine’s daughter in the 1981 John Waters film, Polyester: “I never wanted to use macramé to kill!â€

Still from John Waters’s Polyester (1981) via american-buddha.com

More recent show attendance has helped quiet that pesky voice somewhat. For, along with the hardcore hemp-and-granola crowd (who, don’t get me wrong, still cater beautifully to their appointed audience), there is a large and growing sector of the craft world that takes its inspiration from sources closer to my taste cluster. I’m heartened by the idea that design can be sophisticated but still broadly appealing and not priced beyond the reach of ordinary human beings.

The most recent edition of CraftBoston, held in Boston’s Cyclorama two weeks ago, is a case in point. Blessed with a few miraculous non-working hours that weekend, I spent an enjoyable afternoon simply soaking in the sights–and snagged one or two last-minute holiday purchases at the same time.

Without further ado, here are a few of the more layered, architectural, constructivist, minimalist, biological or chaotic items that caught my fancy.

A new take on transferware by Alice Drew. I can see her work really gaining a following among interior designers.

Photo courtesy of Alice Drew Ceramics

Paper jewelry by Francesca Vitali of Frucci Design.

Photo courtesy of Frucci Design

The spirit of Anni Albers lives on with Cape Cod–based weaver Gretchen Romey-Tanzer.

Photo courtesy of Gretchen Romey-Tanzer

A patchwork jacket by textile artist Deborah Cross.

Photo from societyofcrafts.com

A beaded cuff by Joan Dulla.

Photo courtesy of Joan Dulla

A very different cuff by New Hampshire’s Tom McGurrin.

Photo from artfullhome.com

Somerville, Massachusetts, bookbinder Judith Cohen brought along these blank journals, modeled after third- and fourth-century Coptic books.

Photo courtesy of Seven Hills Bindery

And, finally, a sense of humor isn’t a bad thing, especially when it can be deployed as charmingly as Kent, Connecticut, artist Tomas Savrda manages in his wall pieces. (By the way, his moving figures are so exquisitely balanced on their tiny points that they’ll stay in motion for an amazing length of time after having been nudged.)

Photo from heronamericancraft.com

CraftBoston happens twice a year; the 2012 spring show is in the latter part of March at Boston’s Seaport World Trade Center. But I’m sure there are similar exhibitions near you–so I urge you, too, to conquer that nutty-crunchy-phobia and revel in the changing landscape of American craft.

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