Tuesday, March 25, 2014

American Crafts

Kevin Loughran of House Jewelry, makes artisanal switch-
plates and doorbell covers, as well as other accoutrements
 for the home
In my opinion, the be-all, end-all to craft shows is the American Craft Council’s annual late winter show at the Baltimore Convention Center, the largest in the nation.  Since the first time I attended this juried event almost a decade ago, I have been blown away each year by the talent with which my countrymen (and women) are imbued.

This year’s ACC show was no exception.  And for once, Old Man Winter took a breather and allowed me to attend the event in heels and a delicate top instead of snow boots and an overcoat.  The crafts were absolutely amazing.

Over 600 booths filled the vast auditorium near Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.  Everything from textiles and art to jewelry, pottery and furniture was displayed to elegant effect. I always prepare myself to experience sensory overload.   Over the years, however, I have become accustomed to the sheer magnitude of what American crafters create out of their vivid imaginations.  So it was nice to overhear a woman exclaim to her companion upon experiencing the show for the first time that she was “overwhelmed” by all there was to take in.  Exactly.  Her comments brought back fond memories of my first time or two attending this fabulous event.  I smiled at the memory.

In celebration of the unusually mild February temperature, I pulled on a pair of BrazilRoxx jeans, handcrafted with copper studs and glittering embroidery, which I paired with a simple lace-trimmed cotton camisole by Eyeshadow and a filmy shawl by Sterling Styles, given to me by my dear friends, Robert and Jan, who themselves are loyal attendees at this event, although they always go on the day the show is open to shopkeepers who buy wholesale.  I rounded out my outfit with almond-toed platform booties from Spiegel.com, a pair of earrings with citrine and amber stones set in silver from Fire & Ice jewelers of Baltimore, and a matching necklace from Russia featuring a hand painted ceramic brooch.

These brass and copper switchplates
now grace several rooms in my home
For this year’s craft show, I planned ahead.  Long a fan of California’s Kevin Loughran, who makes what he refers to as jewelry for the home, I counted the visible switchplates and outlet plates in my 150-year-old farmhouse.  Many years ago I had purchased one of Kevin’s gorgeous, custom-crafted brass and copper plates for my dining room dimmer switch, and promised myself that someday I would buy matching switchplates for the other rooms in my home.   This was the year!

Throughout the afternoon I perused booth after booth of exquisite jewelry, clothing, blown glass objets d’art and fine woodworking specimens, eventually coming upon Kevin‘s “House Jewelry” booth.  Mr. Loughran was surprised and pleased by my order: eight single switchplates, three double switchplates and a half dozen outlet plates.  As I munched on a turkey wrap at a nearby table, Loughran’s staff collected my pieces from their show inventory and bagged them for me. I was ecstatic that he had them all in stock.  Talk about instant gratification!

Dennis Ray shows off
his beautiful creations
made from leaves
A few rows later, I came upon another cubicle whose contents I could not resist: natural leaves and acorns electroplated with copper, brass and gold and made into exquisite, one-of-a-kind jewelry.  I quickly gave in to temptation and placed a copper-covered oak leaf necklace at my throat.  It was breathtaking.  And it was from a Maryland tree!  The craftsman, Dennis Ray of Rockville, Maryland, locally harvests leaves and twigs for his business, Nature’s Creations, although he is happy to electroplate almost any leaf you send him from anywhere in the world.  I just had to have one of his unique pieces which, by the way, can be worn as a pin or as a necklace.

I love my new necklace!
As a longtime member of the American Craft Council, I wholeheartedly support these and other talented Americans who have made it their life’s work to create whimsy and beauty in our world.

"Sometimes your heart speaks best through your hands" ~ The Knit Cafe

1 comment:

  1. You always delight in the joy, delight and beauty you show and describe in your blog. Gorgeous, inside your home and your choices of clothing as always! Inspirational!