In our current temporary exhibition Crafting America, craft comes front and center, featuring 120 works in ceramics, textiles, wood, metal, glass, and more unexpected materials.
Every object tells a story, and we know that readers like you have craft stories of your own. Share Your Craft Story is a community-driven project offered by Crystal Bridges in an effort to collect stories about personal connections to craft objects.
Since the project began back in February, we have received countless submissions of fascinating stories tied to beautiful and interesting craft objects. Here, we pulled together five intriguing craft stories that we’ve received from our followers through Share Your Craft Story. Enjoy!
My grandmother was an art teacher in the small town of Cobleskill in upstate New York. She was a potter, weaver, and incredible draftsperson. While not Pennsylvania Dutch herself, she was a big fan of antique Fraktur designs from the Pennsylvania Dutch community and incorporated the style into a lot of her work. She spent much of her time making gifts for family members including vases and painted furniture. When there was a child born in the family, she would make a hook rug to commemorate their birth, using hand-dyed local wool, just a few hand tools, and many many hours. This is the rug she made for me, which sits at the foot of my bed.
My grandmother passed away years ago and my family lives all over the country now, but when any of us visit one another, we are bound to be greeted by her distinct artworks, linking us together and creating an added visual sense of comfort which reminds us of our shared history.
Contributed by: Danny Baskin
Created by: Estelle Weinstein
Origin: Cobleskille NY
I had wished to go to art school when I was a teen, but my parents didn’t think that was a suitable vocation. In the late ‘70s, I learned pottery, but when the guild I belonged to closed, I began to try basketry and loved it.
Having to deal with a chronic fatal disease, I have felt extremely fortunate to have found something exciting to take my mind off the problem. Crafts became a huge part of my life along with a spiritual solution. I did many pieces that included exceptional designs provided by nature. Many wonderful shapes of driftwood and Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick branches, used as handles, have provided inspiration. Although I was able to attend many classes with a variety of folks, I was afraid I would not come up with an original style of my own but I did.
Reed, antlers, fossils, copper pot scrubbers, various types of bark, leaves, yarns, strings, and love were used. Starting out with a basic shape led to designs that were pleasing much of the time.
I am grateful.
Contributed by: Betty Green
Created by: Betty Green
Origin: Created in suburban Chicago area of seagrass, threads, driftwood, and fossils.
My mother convinced my father to buy a very rundown brownstone in Harlem instead of renting another single occupancy kitchenette. It looked abandoned and was never taken care of by the young medical student or his father who put it in his name. He sold it to my parents and they paid the mortgage religiously. It was pretty much uninhabitable and we had little furniture to move in. My father made the beds first, the dining table and chairs, a China cabinet in his spare time, then this 93-inch-tall cabinet for my mother, which was passed down to me. I know I love the line about it, the composition of it, and the simplicity of it. He was an artist.
Contributed by: Sharon Killian
Created by: My father, Wesley George Brown
Origin: Harlem, NYC
2020 was a hard year, but it allowed us to have different perspectives on our lives and to do something we had not done before. We planted flowers in the front yard (as many people did, apparently, during the springtime in 2020!), which turned out to be a wonderful hands-on learning experience for kids. I wanted to remember the first garden we created together; we picked flowers here and there and made pressed flowers over several weeks. At the end of summer, we decided to have a fun craft time and made some collages / pressed flower frames to remember our first little garden, what 2020 was like, and how we spent our quality family time even during a challenging time.
Contributed by: Nami Bagirimvano
Created by: Nami Bagirimvano
Origin: Handmade at home
I’ve designed and built furniture most of my adult life. After retiring at the age of 70, l found retirement to be kind of boring. So, after four years of retirement, I equipped my garden shed with some tools. I found that there were a number of local sources for live edge wood slabs. Always a fan of George Nakashima (an artist whose work is found in Crafting America), l wanted to see what l could do with sequenced pairs of slabs in my tiny “He Shed.” The pictured piece is my first effort. The top is made from two, small walnut slabs that l “flipped” so that the big knots are on opposite ends and corners of the tabletop. Kind of a yin and yang idea. The pedestal is made of stacked, glued pieces of two-inch walnut, shaped by turning each layer ¼-inch counter-clockwise around a centered dowel. Then, the tool-marked sides of the pedestal are hand-carved with gouges. (Curved Chisels)
Contributed by: John Noel
Created by: John Noel
Crafting America is on view now through May 31, 2021. Get your tickets here.