The American Craft Council Show is on the road. Their 2012 schedule includes Baltimore, Atlanta, St. Paul, and San Francisco. This is no pot holder knick knack flea market, oh no. The American Craft Council has been around since 1943 and they take their craft seriously. All their shows are juried to ensure an impressive blend of skill and creativity.

Categories were added this year including under $100, brides-to-be, $10k and up, men-centric, local artists, foodieware, and of course green art.
I attended the opening night festivities featuring the Balvenie rare craft scotch whisky tasting bar, make your own book mini-classes from the San Francisco Center for the Book, and lots of incentive for artists & collectors to join the American Craft Council.

I don’t know about you, but I was starting to suffer from craft show burn-out. I really didn’t want to see another bird graphic on a pillowcase, felted owls, squirrels with mustaches or hair thingy made of dryer lint. Impressed I was by the diversity of ideas as well as the degree of insanity, I mean difficulty in this show’s creations.

Several artists took common mid-century crafts and turned them on their head.
Yan, of Yan’s Design, learned embroidery from her mother in China. As an adult she studied Japanese Art at Kobe University. Her blended technique starts with painting a large image on silk, then accenting with heavy silk thread embroidery. No machines here. Yan’s work can be viewed on the walls of the Lafayette Library and in several East Bay collections.

Check out Jenn Bell’s copper art. Inspired by enamel pins from the 50s, Jenn has super-sized the images along with the degree of difficulty. Here’s the recipe: grind glass finer than sugar, sift onto copper plate, fire in small electric kiln, then make a drawing with copper wire. Once the wire has sunk in, it creates a shape to be filled in with another color of glass. You go girl!

Who hand forges knives anymore? Karl Schroen does. He makes every part of the knives except the scrimshaw. At his studio in Sebastopol he teaches blacksmithing classes. You will learn design, forging, annealing, hardening, and tempering. Karl has authored a highly rated how-to book called “The Hand Forged Knife.”

Hsu Studios, aka the husband and wife team of Carol and Jean-Pier Hsu has been working with light weight anodized aluminum for 35 years. They create mobiles, wall sculpture and jewelry. Located in West Virginia, Hsu Studios participates in the twice yearly Berkeley Springs Studio Tour. Consider a custom order to get the sculpture of your dreams or some clever mobile earrings with plastic pigs. I saw the flying pigs with my own eyes. What was it that happens when pigs fly?

Ann Williamson Designs of Portland, Oregon uses the traditional craft of hand-sewing, beading, appliqué, piecing and embroidery along with vintage Japanese kimono silks to create wearable works of art. Ann’s statement pieces offer instant confidence on stage while accepting your Emmy award for lifetime achievement.