Monday, February 25, 2008

Creativity Infusion

I've been silent for a long time here. No crises prevented me from writing other than the usual small ones that come along under the guise of Life and Aging. No crushing deadlines to blame either, though there have been plenty of semi-crushing ones that seemed like looming dragons at the time. Nope, it's just been a case of too much to do and not enough time. I'm still looking for that "Time Turner" that J.K. Rowling used in one of the Harry Potter books – a lovely necklace with a small hourglass on it, as I recall. Turn it once and you get that hour back so you can be somewhere else and doing something else. Oh, boy, do I want one of those! (TimeTurner from

What's brought me back is an infusion of creativity that I enjoyed on Saturday. Every February, several hundred talented craftspeople descend on Baltimore for the American Craft Council show. For the first few days they see only wholesale buyers, but from Friday through Sunday the rest of us can get in at the massive Convention Center.

There are a few craft shows that draw the best of the best, and this is one of them. In the mid-Atlantic area, the others are the Philadelphia Museum show in November and the Smithsonian show in April, and they both have their charms. For sheer size and variety, though, nothing beats ACC in February.

My friend and I do other things now, but we've both been working artists in the past – she in porcelain, and I in stained glass. So we go to shop, of course, but we also go for the sheer enjoyment of filling our eyes and ears and fingertips with the beauty of finely crafted work presented by the people who created and crafted the work themselves. Her blog about the show is well worth a read.

What a treat it is to spend time talking with fine crafts makers! Just as birders flock to the blogs of Julie and Mary for inspiration, we artists soak ourselves in the colors of creative craft. Mentally I spent thousands, and every dollar well worth it. My finger still itches for an exquisite ring of 18K gold set with a brilliant green tourmaline, and just my size. Reality, of course, is another matter, but I did come home with earrings that have my colors (turquoise, gold, and carnelian), and a bookmark of finely inlaid woods. My friend found a necklace of silk cords with a clever magnetic catch, and a sweater/jacket in her browns, plus a couple of gifts.

We both came away with ideas and designs dancing in our heads, and with that warm glow of confirmation that we still recognize and appreciate fine design and craftsmanship. Back home, I polished my prize from last year's show - a Josh Simpson "Inhabited Vase." Had I unlimited funds, I would be a serious collector of Simpson's work, and I thoroughly enjoy the few small pieces I do have. Amazing what he can do with glass!

For me, the surest proof of the benefit of a day out for art is right here – a new blog article after a very long, very dry spell.


MezzaLuna said...

You singled out some excellent craft shows in the mid-Atlantic region but missed an important one—the Washington Craft Show that comes around in the fall. It's not as well known, but includes original and accomplished craftspeople at the highest level. I've heard artists comment about how beautiful the show is.

Peg Silloway said...

I've heard of that show as well, but have not attended and so didn't feel comfortable recommending it. There are many shows that bill themselves as "high quality" but sometimes it's just hype. A hint: If a show advertises "crafters", don't expect quality or originality.