Every year at the American Craft Council Show in Baltimore, rows and rows of handmade material sit in booths for on-lookers to gaze at and admire. And behind the uniquely crafted jewelry and perfectly glazed ceramic pieces sits an artist, whose work on each piece is extensive. The artists spend hours designing their collections, carving their materials and sewing their pieces together.
The show returns to the Baltimore Convention Center this weekend to showcase more 650 craft artists from all over the country. The artists show works that range from jewelry and glass to woodwork.
"We've been working diligently to make the show more experiential and engaging for multiple age groups and for different aesthetics. We are really accomplishing that now," said Pamela Diamond, director of marketing and communications for the American Craft Council. "The artists are excellent at challenging themselves to do something better and different every year. It's what makes a show like this continue every year. … The caliber [and] quality is amazing."
Beyond the arts and crafts, visitors can enjoy a free Scotch tasting and two on-site exhibitions. One of the exhibits, "Make Room, Modern Design Meets Craft — Let's Entertain," will incorporate various works from the show, such as furniture, sculptures and light fixtures, put together by local interior designers, to form small staged rooms. The other exhibit, "American Craft Charm Collection," features specially crafted charms created by American Craft Council artists.
Of the 650 participating artists this year, 13 live and work in Baltimore. We talked to four of those artists, each working in different areas of the craft world, to learn more about what inspires their work and discuss what they plan to show at the convention center.
Sweet Pepita, clothing
When Shannon Delanoy's daughter Alice started crawling around her Woodberry rowhouse, Delanoy realized that it was time to put away her jewelry-making material and start working on something more kid-friendly.
Six years ago, Delanoy started making clothes for her daughter out of old T-shirts that she and her husband could not get rid of. Friends and strangers quickly caught on to the trend and started bringing Delanoy their sentimental clothing to be cut and remade for their children.
"People loved [the idea] because everybody has T-shirts that they are never going to wear again [but are still] sentimental," said Delanoy, 37. "It's nice that there's history in kids clothing."
Delanoy has continued with the theme of history through her most recent venture: making dresses out of vintage textiles ranging from the 1920s and 1930s to the 1970s. The mother of two also makes dresses out of brightly colored recycled T-shirts and enjoys searching through old shirts with unique patterns and prints.
In addition to accepting personal T-shirts to be made for a customer's child, Delanoy plans to feature dresses and hats in her booth this weekend. She will also display some of the unique vintage T-shirts and patterns for customers to choose and custom-make a garment for their child.
But perhaps her most noticeable pieces are her organic cotton pixie hats.
"My customers tell me that they will get thumbs up from strangers [because of the hat]," Delanoy said. "One man was so happy to see my daughter wearing it because it's so damn cute. It sounds so silly but people remember [the hat] and get a good feeling."
Lisa Cimino's handmade jewelry collections are inspired by nature. Her collections (roots, color, creatures, lines and pearls), depict her interpretations of animals, barnacles and sea life.
"Even though they are different collections, they all stem from nature and are inspired from the world that we live in," said Cimino, 43.
The designer began making jewelry 13 years ago when she started taking classes at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
"I took a class and I just really loved working with my hands," Cimino said. "It's very cool to have an idea on paper and to actually make that piece … [into] what you wanted it to be. It's funny how jewelry just brings such joy to people."