This past weekend, the American Craft Council—one of the country's oldest organizations championing handicrafts—celebrated its 70th birthday at its annual show at Fort Mason in San Francisco. Just over one month ago, I was roaming through the floors of the Festival Pavilion for the Renegade Craft Fair, which I can only describe as the rebellious, punky, and often cheeky little sister of the Craft Council show. Aside from the fact that most everything was handmade, the comparisons between the two exhibitions really stop there. Most of the wares at Renegade were of the crocheted, embroidered, or screenprinted persuasion; at the Craft council show there were ample blown glass pieces, ceramics, and rich woods that were carved and lovingly stained or oiled—essentially, everything reflected much more mature sensibility. What I appreciated most about the Council show was the level of workmanship in the designs on view. Most of the 230 exhibitors seemed to have decades of experience in their crafts and that was imbued in each object. Here, I share a few of my favorites.
The American Craft Council held its 70th annual show at Fort Mason August 12th-14th.
Steve Baldwin of Baldwin Toys creates spectacular wooden heirloom toys for adults and children and has been doing so since 1976. Among my favorites was this handsome road bike. Though based in Omaha, Nebraska, Baldwin is able to ship anywhere in the United States.
Carol Sobieniak of Flying Carpet Studio hand dyes and weaves her tufted loop pile rugs made of 100% New Zealand Romney wool. The striped patterns had a nautical sensibility to them that I really loved.
Here's an assortment of Flying Carpet's patterns. Sobieniak also does custom designs.
Artist Joyce Aysta showed a series of pop-up "Origami Architecture" cards featuring architectural landmarks and famous homes, like Frank Lloyd Wright's La Miniatura House. In 2009, Aysta co-authored a The Paper Architect, which details how you can create these designs at home.
Portland, Oregon-based ceramist Lilith Rocket created this line of white porcelain vessels.
Here is a pair of handsome candlesticks designed by Lilith Rockett.
I really liked the arrangement of cups on this platter. Each one has a different height and when grouped together look really simple and beautiful.
A colorful assortment of food-safe ceramics by Lyn Swan. Her line features 15 different glazes chosen for their complimentary hues. "For the 15 colors you see here, there were 150 other shades that I experimented with," Swan explained when I toured her booth.
Inspired by Scandinavian and Asian design, Arcata, California-based Peggy Loudon creates objects that "bring a sense of beauty and calm to a home." I really liked the crackle glaze on these cups, which looks like charred wood. Our September 2011 Japan Style issue is on newsstands now, and I've been drawn to eastern-inspired designs lately. These made me think of the charred exteriors of homes by Terunobu Fujimori.
Continuing on the Japan theme, these enameled earrings are made by Reiko Miyagi, who studied contemporary art at Tama Art University in Tokyo.
This necklace by Myung Urso is made of small rubber bands, scraps of paper, silkworm cocoons, wire, and a red-painted twig.
Retro glassware by Bruce Pizzichillo and Dari Gordon. You can contact the Oakland-based artists the good old fashioned way via telephone: 510-832-8380.
To cap everything off, a trio of glass hedgehogs by Suellen Fowler.Click through the Council's interactive 70 year timeline for a comprehensive look at the momentous events in the history of craft ranging from when Robert Turner first established a pottery studio at Black Mountain College (1949) to when Memphis took hold as the style du jour in the 1980s to how Nirvana influenced a generation of indie crafters in the 1990s.