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American Craft Council Goes Modern With Hip Pop Showcase


Ceramics by Ben Fiess at the American Craft Council Show

Courtesy American Craft Council

Though the maker movement is a relatively recent happening, handmade crafts have a lengthy heritage in the United States. One of its longest-running proponents has been the American Craft Council, which was founded in 1943 to promote education in and appreciation of crafts. In 2000, it introduced its annual American Craft Council Show in seven U.S. cities including St. Paul, and in 2010, the council moved its headquarters from New York to Minneapolis.

This month marks the St. Paul edition of the show, which highlights 225 top U.S. craft artists spanning jewelry, clothing, furniture, home décor, and interior design—much like a Pinterest board come to life. Among the Minnesota artists represented are Jennifer Merchant—known for her innovative, hand-cut acrylic-and-magazine jewelry—jewelers Elizabeth Novak and George Sawyer, fiber artist Susan Bradley, and artisan handbag designer Christina Hankins.

Returning is its Make Room, Modern Design Meets Craft exhibition, which has been featured by the ACC since 2012 as a way to put craft into context. It encompasses four rooms, styled with American-made crafts, designed by four top local interior designers—Karen Soojian, Lucy Penfield, Debra Herdman, and Jaque Bethke—exploring the four elements of earth, wind, fire, and water.

A new addition to this year’s show, dubbed Hip Pop, recognizes the modern maker movement. Craft Council publicist Lynn Nelson tells me the emerging artist program is made up of about 80 percent Minnesota makers, including ceramists Ben Fiess and Elizabeth Pechacek, jewelers Betty Jäger and East Fourth Street's Susan Crow, textile and knitwear artist Lauren Mayhew. It also includes a booth hosted by Minneapolis home goods store and maker hub Forage Modern Workshop featuring local makers Lauren Neal of NEAL Jewelry, woodworker William Dohman of Oh Dier, ceramicist Adam Gruetzmacher, tabletop artist Brittany Pool, and jeweler Lindsay Locatelli of Wazo Designs.

Apr. 10–12, Saint Paul RiverCentre, craftcouncil.org/stpaul

Here's a selection of goods from Minnesota-based makers appearing at this year's show:

Brittany Pool ceramic plate

Elizabeth Pechacek tumblers

East Fourth Street rings

Jennifer Merchant Design acrylic bracelet

NEAL Jewelry rings and bracelet

White Lodge Knitwear hats by Lauren Mayhew

Adam Gruetzmacher pitcher

Oh Dier ring boxes

Wazo Designs necklace

[Photos courtesy the designers]

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