Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Amy Peters Inspirational Jewelry

Eight years old is a little young to pick your career, but that's just what Amy Peters did. It all started with an after school program in jewelry enameling. In highschool, she worked an after school job as a pearl knotter. In college, she worked in a bead shop. After college she continued to perfect her craft but treated it more as a hobby than a career. Over the years she worked working various jobs, everything from retail sales and a kidney transplant coordinator at a hospital's blood center.

A prominent artist once told her "if you haven't used your art to make a living within 5 years of graduating art school, you probably never will." It had been 4 1/2 years, so she lept. She set up a studio in a small (9' x 15') shed with a dirt floor & no running water and Amy Peters' Studio was born. Thirteen years later, and she's still going strong. Her sterling silver jewelry is stamped with wonderful inspirational messages...Follow Your Heart...Reach for the Stars...Take the Road Less Traveled. I give her necklaces as gifts a lot and they are always a hit.

On a side note, she's a great person to share a pitcher of margaritas with!

Click here to check out Amy's blog.
Click here to check out her jewelry at our store.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dennis Elliot

Some people are born with more talent than seems fair to the rest of us. I think Dennis Elliott is one of those people.

Dennis became a professional musician at the age of 16 as the drummer for the British jazz-rock band IF. In 1976, Dennis became one of the founding members of the rock band Foreigner. From 1976 to 1991, when Dennis left the band, Foreigner recorded six multi-platinum selling albums. While still with the band, Elliott's wife Iona gave him a Black & Decker lathe attachment for his power drill and that started it all. He needed to get his mind off the anxiety of performance. But turning took over.

"In creating music, you're creating out of thin air. There's no material that you're working with when you begin," says Elliott. "When you're working with a solid object like a piece of a tree, you can only do it once. The responsibility is therefore greater than creating a new song which can be wiped out and started again."

Eventually Dennis gained recognition as a wood turner and his work is in several public collection, including the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Museum of Arts & Design (formerly the American Craft Museum).
Platinum records and your art in the Smithsonian...it's just not fair to the rest of us, Dennis!

See more of Dennis' work here.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What is contemporary fine craft?

That is a question I frequently get asked, and it's a hard one to answer. When I say that I have a contemporary craft gallery people mostly ignore the word gallery and assume I have a store that sells scrap booking and knitting supplies. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against scrap bookers and knitters (some of them are my best friends), but it's not what I do. I've searched the internet for a definition of contemporary crafts. Most of what I found was extremely limited or so esoteric as to not make any sense. Now, I'm not promising to make any sense, but I'll do my best.

The things I look for in contemporary crafts and craft artists are:
1.Utility---Not everything that is contemporary crafts is functional, but most can trace its roots back to something that was (or still is) a part of everyday life. A perfect example of this would be blown glass. The work of Dale Chihuly is in no way utilitarian. It was never meant to be anything other than beautiful and decorative. Yet, you can trace the roots of glassblowing back thousands of years in the making of drinking glasses, bowls, windows, and more.

2. Vision---The ability to see something in a common object that wasn't readily visible to others. When you see a piece of scrap wood, do you see fuel for a fireplace or do you see the figure of an angel with something to say? When you see an old muffler, do you see something to throw away or do you see the body of a dog?

3. Mark of the Hand---Contemporary craft should show that it was made by a person, with skill and care. Even when something is made with the most cutting edge machinery, it should still show something of the artist in it.

My description of contemporary craft is by no means definitive. Some people will disagree with it totally. Some will say it is too broad. Some will say it's to vague. I challenge them to come up with their own definition (it's not as easy as you think.) These are just the guidelines I use for choosing work for my gallery. After that, it just comes down to what I love. And even then I've been known to throw the rules out the window for something I truly love!

I'd love to hear you definition of Contemporary Fine Crafts.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

So, this blog thing...

I've been getting the push to start a blog for some time now. I'm finally giving in & doing it. I plan on devoting most of the post to the art that I love (although I am known to get sidetracked). I attend a lot of art/craft shows, everything from tiny church craft shows to big national juried shows. You never know where you'll find that new amazing artist. Sometimes those I'll carry those artist in my gallery, sometimes I won't. Just because I love it, doesn't mean my customers will buy it.

I'm doing this in hopes of encouraging people to buy American crafts. Buy them from me (hey, I'd really like that), buy them from a local shop, buy them from an artist at a street fair, just BUY them!

I'm telling you, you will get so much more joy out of eating your cereal from a beautiful ceramic bowl, hand-made by some guy in Michigan, than you will from a bowl mass produced at some factory in China, sold at a big box store. And it won't cost you that much more, if it cost more at all. I promise!