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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Alaska Crafter meets Craft in America

Every year about this time the urge to settle in settles in. The dent in my couch gets a little deeper; the reality shows actually start looking interesting; even the sewing machine appears to revolt out of laziness. This usually means the TV gets perma-tuned into a mix of football and nature shows by the other members of my house as I let it ride. At least it's educational, right?

Let me tell you, crafters, I discovered a secret in my mailbox shrouded in a sassy red envelope that made me realize we can have our cake and eat it too, or at least we can have our TV and love it too. I know, I know, you're thinking HGTV, or the Food Network, but this is even better. Aptly named Craft in America, this five-part series is my answer to darkening days and freezing nights and is brought to us by my childhood television love, PBS.

 At first glance, the program looked a little too educational, but after the first five minutes the entire house (even football man) was hooked. Broken into five episodes, the series tracks the topics Memory, Landscape, Community, Origins and Process through in-depth interviews with artists/crafters. The variety of crafters is as wide as the pieces they create. Traditional basket-weavers are followed by jewelry made from trashed needles and furniture fashioned from fallen wood. Each story is as intriguing as the last. More than educational, the pieces and people are inspirational. So much so that I found the energy to extract myself from the cozy couch and research a bit more (of course, after I wrestled with the sewing machine and kicked it back into gear).

The series is merely one outlet of Craft in America, which is "a nonprofit organization dedicated to the exploration, preservation and celebration of craft and its impact on our nation's cultural heritage." A book, online exhibitions, a study center and art displays are a few of the other programs Craft in America has created. And, lucky for us, their next show is right here in Alaska.

American Craft Week, held Oct. 1 through 10 is "a craft festival that extends across 50 states: By uniting hundreds of artisans, retailers and institutions in a coast-to-coast celebration of all things handmade." Not bad, and you too can participate. As of now, no Alaskan factions have sprung up to celebrate, so now is the perfect moment to seize the opportunity and "introduce the public to artisans for whom crafting is a business. Together, participating groups will celebrate the enduring value, cultural importance and quality of craft artisans' creations."

First Friday in Juneau immediately springs to mind. As this is the first annual event of this kind, Craft in America is asking crafters, artisans, gallery owners, vendors and more to sign up on their site in exchange for camaraderie and advertising assistance. To get involved, check out AmericanCraftWeek.com.

Whether your style of participation is passive, active, creative, or collective, Craft in America has something for you. Pull the knitting needles out, sit back and check out the series (or watch it online for free at CraftInAmerica.org). Get off your comfy duff, get a group together and join American Craft Week. If nothing else get a little inspiration that will last you through the winter until Wearable Art comes around and we crafters get fired up again.

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