Craft Council show features charms for Charm City

Christina Goodman's hand-painted raven faces left in strict profile, and despite the miniature scale carries the flavor of Renaissance portraiture in the sober expression and fine detail. It's one of her contributions to a small collection of handmade jewelry celebrating Baltimore and Maryland icons.

The ravens, crabs, white oaks, orioles, black-eyed Susans and Edgar Allan Poes were on view this weekend as thousands of browsers and buyers strolled through the Baltimore Convention Center for the American Craft Council Show, its 38th year in the city. The three-day event ending Sunday features 650 artisans from across the country working in wood, glass, metal, leather, fabrics, ceramics and jewelry. The show includes a presentation of what the organization is calling the Charm Collection.

With charms, bracelets, pendants and pins, the collection is meant to highlight Baltimore as a destination for jewelry buyers, said Pamela Diamond, marketing and communications director for the American Craft Council, which is based in Minneapolis.

"We've been here 38 years, and you are the Charm City," said Diamond. Artisans were encouraged to make pieces inspired by Baltimore and Maryland, she said, and a few took on the challenge.

Lori Meg Gottlieb, a jewelry maker in Owings Mills, used gold and silver to create an array of pendants about the size and shape of Scrabble tiles: a white oak leaf, black-eyed Susan and Maryland's state butterfly, the Baltimore checkerspot, ranging in price from $70 to $150 apiece.

She didn't try a raven or a Poe, preferring to stick with images that were already in her line and make them into charm-sized pieces.

Gabrielle Gould of St. Augustine, Fla., made a raven pin out of oxidized sterling silver painted with enamel — more modern in appearance than Goodman's design, and with one movable wing. Her oriole also has a wing that opens to reveal a tiny silver sand crab. Her crab charm is painted in shades of red and blue enamel.

Beadweaver Thea Fine of Ellicott City made an image of Edgar Allan Poe etched into copper — a large square pin with the word "Nevermore" at the bottom going for $325, and smaller round pendants showing a familiar portrait of the writer in moody black and off-white surrounded by a corona of gold and purple beads that sell for $125 apiece.

She'd sold one small Poe, and was planning further Maryland creations. A pink flamingo in honor of Hampden, perhaps, an image of the Patterson Park pagoda and her own raven.

Goodman, who lived in Bethesda as a little girl but now lives outside Oakland, Calif., specializes in painting miniatures. She created several Maryland-inspired designs using resin, gold leaf and acrylic paint applied with a brush that comes to a point no bigger than the thickness of a single bristle.

She made a charm of an oriole, a white oak, Maryland's state tree, and a portrait of a black-eyed Susan about the size of a shirt button. The raven is the largest of the group, postage-stamp size and selling for $300, a portrait that shows Goodman's enthusiasm for Renaissance painting and the centuries-old tradition of religious icons.

She said she studied photographs of ravens to get the details just right.

"Visually, the feathers are incredible, the patterns," said Goodman. Her version has "a little bit of a mischievous quality. … I guess they look a little bit proud."

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