Sunday, September 12, 2010

The "C" Word

(Please note: As a cancer survivor myself, I am far too aware of an alternate, more common use of the phrase "the C-word" in that dreadful association. This blog in no way means to celebrate that virulent disease.)

Next month is the first celebration of "American Craft Week," an ambitious endeavor with the sole mission of raising awareness of craft and its makers across America. This celebration rings close to our hearts at Artful Home, since it is work in traditional craft media and techniques, such as ceramics, glass, fiber, metal, and wood, that have been part of the foundation of our business since we launched our website and catalog just over 10 years ago. We salute this occasion, and are helping sponsor it with a celebration of our own. Just last month I had a party with 65 artists, serving handmade food on the most beautiful plates, all created by Artful Home artists. What a glorious celebration it was!

As a lover and buyer of beautiful things, I find it both interesting and discouraging that arguments and discussions abound about the differences between art and craft, about the relevancy of craft in our modern world, and about the meanings of the words "artist," "maker," and "crafter." Two weeks ago I was speaking at a conference in Scotland, where this discussion was so lively that they organized a show and film called "The C-Word." While the Museum of Art and Design in New York removed the word "Craft" from its former name as if it was a stigma, other, bolder museums such as the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design, the Portland Museum of Contemporary Crafts, and the Fuller Craft Museum outside Boston proudly use the name in their respective identities. My alma mater, formerly known as the California College of Arts and Crafts changed its name, too, removing "Craft" as if it was that same stigma. In my opinion, the issue that most needs attention is preserving, supporting, and encouraging the making by hand of original work, regardless of medium or name.

There is going to be an exciting, free 2-day conference, "Crafting A Nation" at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C. on October 8 and 9. I will be speaking there, and I hope some of you can make it. More info is at If you are interested in local celebrations of American Craft Week close to your home, please visit and feel free to send me any pictures or accounts of celebrations you create.

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