Judy, Karen and I attended the show this weekend. What a treat it was and what a wonderful way to spend a cold December day amongst so many inspiring artisans. Here are a few of my favorites from this year’s show.
Kathleen Dustin: Ever the innovator, Kathleen seems to be slowly moving away from her trademark translucency technique and into more organic shapes with surface designs that incorporate caning, blending, and touchable textures. One necklace featured round medallion beads in silver bezels each with a distinct design such as caning, spikey protrusions, and depth of surface translucency. Kathleen’s work is always inspiring and it was great fun to talk with her about finding inspiration (“How can I make that pod shape into a purse?” or “How can I translate the movement of grass into rods of polymer clay?”) My favorite comment from Kathleen on keeping track of your ideas was “If I (don’t write it down and) forget an idea, then it probably wasn’t a good idea. But the good ones you don’t have to write down. I won’t forget it.”
Laura Balombini: I haven’t seen Laura’s work in-person in several years. Her new color scheme is bright and soothing at the same time. Her combination of found objects and polymer clay in figurative sculpture has taken her work into a new, fresh direction. We talked about the importance of taking a break from your usual medium and trying something different (as Laura did this past summer with painting on canvas.) And you could definitely see the transfer of ideas from the painting to the sculpture. Laura and I also talked about the importance of taking the time to find your spirit in your work. When you are able to spend some time working with the material and with your ideas, it will come out in your work.
Elise Winters: It has also been a while since I’ve seen Elise’s work. She too is working with more organic shapes while maintaining her trademark style. I always enjoy her explaining and demonstrating the many ways to wear her long tube bead necklaces.
JoAnne Russo: JoAnne’s work was new to me. She is a basket maker with a background in sewing and fiber work. It was inspiring to see what happens when someone with experience in those two mediums starts making baskets. I loved the incorporation of zippers, hook & eye, and buttons into her baskets. The results are stunning. JoAnne is also the winner of this year’s prestigious Museum of Fine Arts Director’s Choice Award (awarded annually to one artisan at Crafts at the Castle). One of her baskets now becomes part of the permanent collection at the MFA.
Hilary Hachey: Hilary is a metalsmith from Baltimore. Her hand-fabricated jewelry is simple yet elegant. I love the repetivive use of square and rectangular shapes; some with coverings or partial coverings over the face of the shape, some with small stones suspended within the shape. The small scale of the squares and rectangles make them appear almost tranquil.
Claudia Olds Goldie: Claudia creates ceramic figurative sculptures that are unglazed and monochromatic. Her work has been featured in Lark’s 500 Figures in Clay. When looking at some of her pieces, I couldn’t help but think about Venus de Milo. Claudia takes her observations of people, primarily women, and translates them into sculptures that are endearing on first glance and that convey a deeper meaning upon examination.
Debora Muhl: A basketmaker from Pennsylvania, Debora uses coils of sweet grass sewn with wax linen to create stunning sculptural baskets. Some incorporate gourds at the base and others are supported by wildly curling branches. All the baskets had a movement to them that seemed to imitate the original sweet grass.
Denise Shea: I first met Denise at ArtSpace in Maynard. She is a millner specializing in funky felt hats that not only have their own character, they may bring out a character in you. Denise has a wonderful talent for drawing people into her booth, having them try on hats, and matching them to the hat of their destiny. As Denise will tell you, hats are magic; they can make you into someone completely different. And to feel that magic, you have to believe.