35th Annual Smithsonian Craft Show Showcases Members of the League: April 27th – 30th


Mark your calendars for the 35th Annual Smithsonian Craft Show at the National Building Museum, Washington DC, April 27th – 30th, 2017. This show features 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. See exhibits of stunning quilts by Visionary Artist, Faith Ringgold, noted for her narrative quilts. The Smithsonian Craft Show, produced by the Smithsonian Women’s Committee, supports yearly grants to the Smithsonian’s 19 museums and galleries, nine research facilities, traveling exhibits and the National Zoo. Over $11.5 million in grants and endowments have been awarded since 1966.

Here are the League of NH Craftsmen juried members participating in this year’s show:

Kathleen Dustin:

KDustinWorking2017People often ask me, “Where do your ideas come from?” I feel that part of my job as an artist is to pay attention, and so for lots of years I have been paying attention to the stages in my life and those of women around me, to the material culture of women in the exotic places where I’ve lived, and now to my quiet life and the natural world around me. The imagery of my work comes from taking a deep look at my life, responding to it, and reinterpreting it within jewelry and handbags.

People have also occasionally asked me, “Why don’t you make sculpture?” In my mind, sculpture just sits there collecting dust – you aren’t supposed to touch it. But a purse is personal: you engage with it. Every time you open your handbag to pull out your lipstick or phone, your life is enhanced by this exquisite, finely crafted container. Plus, it shows others what a marvelous person you are.

You may find out more about Kathleen and her work on her website, kathleendustin.com.

This is Kathleen’s 11th Smithsonian Craft Show. Kathleen has been a Juried member of the League for many years, is one of our League jurors, and may be found in booth 538 at the Annual Craftsmen’s Fair.

Molly Grant:

MollyGrantOxfordOption-4I began leatherworking in my early 20’s, first by working on my own and then by apprenticing at the Black Swan Leather shop in Portsmouth, NH, where I learned the basic skills of traditional leatherworking. I first saw Cordwainer Shoes when I was ten years old at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Fair, known nationally as the oldest craft fair in the nation. I became a juried member in 1989, and participated by showing my line of handbags. There, I had the opportunity to meet Paul Mathews, owner of the Cordwainer Shop. Within a few months’ time I was traveling to craft shows nationally with Paul and learning the Cordwainer art. I still makes handbags, but my main business is footwear and teaching shoemaking workshops at the shop and at craft schools across the country.

More information about her work may be found at cordwainershop.com.

This is Molly’s 4th Smithsonian Craft Show. She has been a Juried member of the League for many years.

Zachary Jonas:

Zach Jonas-2I draw much of my inspiration from a global variety of rich and long-standing traditions of bladecraft. I am intrigued by the mystique and technical perfection of the samurai blade, by the sinuous curves of the Persian and Indian armory, and by the hardheaded pragmatism of Western pieces. It is not only the aesthetics that I seek to draw from these traditions, but also the beauty of function; without function, a knife is only an ornament, and without beauty, it is only a means to an end. Each of my blades is capable of performing to a very exacting standard.

The art of the bladesmith is a deeply satisfying experience. It is both challenging and elemental in nature, requiring intense heat, considerable strength and focus, and an acute personal bond with the materials at hand. Without any one of these, there can be no knife. As such, the craft both offers and demands a reverence for the history and tradition of making and using edged implements. I hope to write my own small chapter into this history, to continue and expand the ancient art of knife making, and to produce exceptional blades in the process.

You may find out more about Zach and his process on his website, jonasblade.wpengine.com.

This is Zach’s 2nd Smithsonian Craft Show. He has been a Juried member of the League since 2012, is a League Juror, and will be in booth 625 at the Annual Craftsmen’s Fair.

Blair LaBella:

Blair 1My beach stone jewelry series is, in a sense, a coming full circle for me. With my upbringing in an old New England coastal community and all my adult years of living and raising my boys on the coast in southern Maine, as well as the gravitational pull that the ocean and coastline have on me, it’s no wonder I have landed where I am. Working with the beach stones is second nature for me from the collecting and composition of the design layouts for each piece to the clean and unadorned metalsmithing that I incorporate.

My connection to the LNHC is broad and with longevity. I was originally juried into the League in 1991 in Ceramics, which is what I have a BFA in from RISD. After a short while, I shifted gears into making ceramic jewelry and was juried into the Non Metals jewelry category. Over time I evolved into becoming a Metalsmith jeweler and juried into the Metals category where am now entrenched. The League has been there throughout this journey. I could easily say that the League and the juried members have been an integral part of my career. I consider all of the juried members of the League to be parts of an extended family. Regardless of the medium that we work within, we connect, collaborate, inspire, encourage and critique one another. I remain steadily involved with the League as I am on the Standards Committee and the Fair Committee. I am also a juror within the Metals category and have taken on the organization for music at the Fair. I was honored and humbled when awarded the Blackstone Volunteer Award for 2016. The League is an organization like no other that I am aware of; I feel the possibilities are endless when the inspirations, enthusiasm and energy of its membership, volunteers, leadership and staff converge.

You will find more details of Blair’s design philosophy on her website, blairlabella.com.

This is Blair’s 1st Smithsonian Craft show, and she will be in booth 518 at the Annual Craftsmen’s Fair. Blair’s work may also be found in the League’s Littleton, Meredith, Nashua and North Conway Fine Craft Galleries.

Hideaki Miyamura:

Hideaki vase with blue waves glazeI was born in Japan and lived there for much of my early life. While there, I studied and apprenticed with a master potter for six years. At first, my studies focused on form. I made thousands of sake cups, then thousands of tea cups, then, eventually, vases and other forms, until my hands and body could create without the intervention of my conscious mind.

I performed thousands of experiments with glazes, seeking always to find the mix of materials and temperatures that would produce the iridescent effect I desired. The Chinese tea bowl that first captivated me was a variation on the yohen tenmoku, a dark and mysterious glaze that reminded me of a clear night’s endless sky (in Japanese, in fact, yohen means “stars glistening in a night sky”). Through my years of research and experiment my passion for particular glazes broadened, but I never lost the first desire to find forms and colors that would give infinite life to the light.

You will find out more about Hideaki’s work on his website, miyamurastudio.com.

This is Hideaki’s 11th Smithsonian Craft Show. Hideaki has been a Juried member of the League since 1994, and will be in booth 802 at the Annual Craftsmen’s Fair.

Irina Okula:

Okula_Irina_photoI am a ceramic artist who continuously experiments with pattern and texture with unflagging curiosity. My shard pots are like crazy quilts where the quilter designs and weaves the fabric as well. Each pot begins on the potter’s wheel, and is trimmed, dried, sanded, and hand burnished. After a bisque firing, the form is broken into several pieces, taped back together, and sketched. I create a one of a kind design and decorate each piece. Then those decorated pieces are packed into an enclosed clay container, a saggar, packed with combustible materials, and fired again. Once cool, the pieces are reassembled and glued together, yielding a beautiful melding of patterns, designs, textures and colors.

Honored for Excellence in Ceramics at the 2015 Smithsonian Craft Show, Irina Okula is one of 120 of America’s finest craft artists selected for the 35th Annual Smithsonian Craft Show in 2017.

For a closer look at Okula’s saggar shards and other one-of-a-kind ceramics, check out clayshards.com or iokula.zenfolio.com.

This is Irina’s 2nd Smithsonian Craft Show. Irina Okula is a long-time member of the League of NH Craftsmen, has her work in all of the League’s eight fine craft galleries, and will be at the annual League of NH Craftsmen’s fair in booth 702.