Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Craft in America - An Overly In-Depth Review

I've now watched all five episodes (the sixth episode premieres May 24) of Craft in America, and can weigh in with a more complete analysis. The easiest way to do this is to break it down by episode.

Episode I. Memory

This episode centers on the traditions of crafting, and the way those traditions are handed down and carried on. This focus is rather broad, and a bit stretched in some cases, but the general concept is evident. Because of the focus on tradition, it is also very much about family and heritage.

The featured artists include Gary Knox Bennett, a furniture maker; Pat Courtney Gold, a basket maker specializing in work inspired by traditional Wasco Indian designs; Mary Jackson, a basket maker specializing in sweetgrass baskets, Tom Joyce, a blacksmith; and Sam Maloof, the late, woodworking legend. Both basket makers were compelling as they discussed the relationship between their culture and their craft, but watching Mary Jackson work with her daughter and granddaughter, and hearing the insight into the tradition from her little granddaughter was a highlight. While I enjoyed seeing and hearing Sam Maloof, my favorite part of this episode was Tom Joyce. The man had me ready to scrounge up some iron and build a fire in the back yard.

The only disappointing part of this episode was the arrogance of Gary Knox Bennett, but even that wasn't all that bad, and provided a contrast to the understated nature of the other artists. He didn't even muster enough over-confidence to make me dislike him. His work is bold, and I appreciate that he has a personality to match it.

Episode II. Landscape

Episode two is all about the impact of place, time, and culture on art and artisans. The featured artists include Jan Yager, a Philadelphia based artist and mixed media jeweler; Kit Carson, an Arizona based artist and jeweler; David Gurney, a painter and potter; George Nakashima, another late, woodworking (furniture making) legend; Mira Nakashima-Yarnall, a furniture maker following her father's lead; Richard Notkin, a ceramic artist with a political bent; and the artisans who contributed to the Timberline Lodge, including those working on its restoration.

Jan Yager's mission to create only from inspiration in her immediate vicinity is fascinating. Using "city flotsam," she creates compelling and thought provoking pieces as well as those inspired by the weeds growing nearby. I was also intrigued by the soft spoken potter, David Gurney, and his bold work. All of these artists seemed not only highly influenced by their surroundings, but to be of the speak softly, create loudly persuasion. I like that; I like them. Plus, Kit Carson wears a neckerchief throughout his interview, so bonus points for adorableness.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Craft in America

I've only just started watching the series, but Craft in America is a fascinating account of the handmade community by the artisans who comprise it. For me, the allure of handmade objects is the visceral dichotomy they present; makers/artists/craftspeople communicate in a primal, non-verbal language, relaying complexity and insight that is difficult to convey with the limited lexicon of modern languages. Still, it is a very powerful thing indeed, to listen to an artist talking about her work, while watching her create it. Seeing a bit of scrap metal, a weed from a city field, a lump of clay, blades of grass, or any number of raw materials turned into something useful or beautiful, or both, is a visual reminder of the creativity alive in the human mind. And that, I think, is the ultimate appeal of handmade objects.

The artisans featured are all successful, and some of them are incredibly pretentious, but the overall feel is that of the craft community: full of clashing personalities and styles, but also full of creativity, acceptance, and history. I highly recommend you add Craft in America to your Netflix queue, order the DVDs, watch for episodes on your local PBS station, or view them online at PBS.org. If you are drawn to crafters or crafts of any variety, I think you will enjoy this peek into the creative spirit.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Beautiful Boy

'Jasper Gaius, Fancy Pants' by floofball

I have a cat named Jasper Gaius, his pants are fancy, and sometimes matted.

















Jasper Gaius, the inspiration

Craft in Action

See that beehive piƱata,

The one Pepino the Spectacled Bear is chewing up to get to the yummy honey inside?

I made that.
(click to enlarge)

Happy Earth Day, may you celebrate it every day.

(photos taken at the Oglebay Good Zoo)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Felt Tea Bag Tutorial

As promised, here is my version of a felt tea bag.

*white felt
*green felt
*white six strand embroidery floss

Start with a rectangle of white felt about twice the width and slightly over twice the length you want the finished tea bag. (Mine is a bit squat, because I was trying to get the most out of a sheet of felt.) Stitch the longer sides together using a whip stitch. These stitches won't be seen, so no need to be terribly careful.

Flatten the tube you've just created so that the stitched edge runs down the middle.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Treasured Places

'A Tail of Two Cities' by floofball

A story of two places, a seaside resort town, and a country village, as told by the animals who call each home.

For the non-team challenge http://treasurychallengenonteam.blogspot.com/
















Treasury tool by Red Row Studio.

This is my first Non-team Challenge Entry, I've been terrified of screwing up, as there are thirty million rules. Even if it is wrong, I like it (especially the terrible pun in the title)!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Giveaway Winner

And the winner is...


Thank you all for following my little blog. I hope to have giveaways somewhat regularly, so stay tuned for your chance to win.

(The winner was chosen using my favorite random number generator, random.org.)

Happy Birthday, Scarlett and Mika

Mika Pinkerton and Scarlett Lilly turn 13 today!