This Weekend Visit Smithsonian’s 35th Annual Juried Craft Show


Jennifer Ivory Butterflies, using paper as her medium

This weekend only, the National Building Museum is taken over by some of the most prestigious designers and crafters in the country.  On display and for sale are works from 120 artists representing all facets of contemporary design and craft– basketry, ceramics, decorative fiber, furniture, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed media, paper, wearable art, and wood. Serious collectors and casual visitors alike will find one-of-a-kind works of art in all price ranges. Admission includes special events on the theme of “Looking Back and Moving Forward” featuring nationally known experts in the field of fine craft and design.

Last night I attended Friend’s Night Out, a bit of a sneak peak at the designs.  I noticed several pieces already gone from their spots in the designers stall, sold just after the preview!  After attending last year’s craft fair, I knew to expect something astounding and far separated from what you might think of as a craft fair.  The items at this craft fair are in the same vein as those (woven baskets, wood furniture), but turned up to 11.

I met a woman who turns wood from trees fallen in city windstorms.  The bowls are much thinner than I thought possible using that technique.  The natural rot or “spalting” is outlined in India ink and turned into a beautiful design, on which her partner draws intricate cityscapes based on the natural design of the wood.  The wood-turner and illustrator duo live in Boston; check out Yelena Synkova and Sean Cummings here.

Another artist I spoke with studied in Japan to learn to make pottery that defied the laws of what should be possible.  I was astounded to see that he had made a giant urn, wide at the middle, with the thinnest of necks, all one piece.  You have to go check it out for yourself, especially if you’ve ever played at making pottery on a wheel like I have, and been frustrated by how finicky the clay can be.

The artists are generally in their stalls and eager to talk to you about their work.  Since the craft show is juried, they have applied and been accepted and seem to be enjoying every moment of it.

The show runs now through Sunday, and tickets are generally $20, and can keep you occupied for quite some time, strolling around perusing the art and learning about new techniques.  So take the Metro to Judiciary Square and be impressed with what humans can do.  It’s a wonderful experience.

$20 Daily Admission, including program

$15 Groups of 10 or more by advance purchase

$17 On-line ticket sales

$30 Two-day pass


Yelena Synkova and Sean Cummings tree turn bowl

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