Monday, February 29, 2016

Artful Home Artists at the Baltimore American Craft Council Show

We have been talking about attending the American Craft Council Show in Baltimore for several years, and this year we finally made it, thanks to an invitation we received from Lisa Bayne to cover the show on behalf of Artful Home.

You have to stock up on energy drinks before undertaking this show - there are more than five hundred vendors, and the show runs for five days (first two for wholesale buyers; the remainder for retail buyers).  It is impossible to see everyone, so the Council thoughtfully provides a catalogue, and aficionados of individually made, one of a kind pieces can tailor their trip by marking their catalogues.  It took us two days to see around forty artists. We have posted more than two dozen Instagram posts about the show, the artists we saw and the people we met in Baltimore. To learn more about each of the Artful Home artists featured in today's blog and to see more of their work, please click on each's name, which we have linked to the Artful Home website.

One of our first stops was the booth of Janine Decresenzo.  On a visit to Italy, Janine found some white coral on a beach, and incorporated it into her work.  The coral fan on the necklace, on a sterling base, also boasts a small diamond.  The bracelet features a smaller piece of white coral.  They work perfectly with Valerie's Carousel dress, by Spirithouse, also on Artful Home.

Steven Ford and David Forlano, who also exhibit at the PMA's Craft Show, design jewelry in polymer clay. While many are made of colorful round beads (as in the necklace hanging on the wall behind Jean) or reversible flat discs, this particular piece is is constructed of black and white squiggles.  The dress Jean is wearing in the opening shot and below is black knit with grey sketched circles called the  Kati Dot Dress by Comfy USA from Artful Home's website.

We also visited Giselle Kolb, who works with enamel in beautiful colors, and sterling.

Long term fans of Christy Klug and her jewelry from the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Craft Show, we loved to run into her at the Baltimore show.  Jean shows off several of her metiulously crafted silver pieces: a disc on neck wire, round earrings and large, concave disc rings.

Some of Julie Powell's work reminds Valerie of the intricate beadwork produced by the Wiener Werkstatte in the early 20th century.  We asked Julie to show us some of the pieces currently available on Artful Home, and Julie showed us the Boogie-Woogie Cuff (lower left of photo), the Trampoline Cuff (lower right of photo, partially hidden), and the Tumbling Beaded Beads Necklace (with multiple large beaded beads), to which we added another not currently on the website (with beaded beads interspersed with beaded dashes) for still more color and contrast.

Loretta Lam's large, colorful beads on thick neck wires were beautiful.  Here are two of our favorites.

Yuh Okano, who works out of trendy Brooklyn (as do many other Artful Home artists), has long been known for her shaped shibori, and is still making gorgeous shibori products.  (We were both drawn to the brightly colored three dimensional shibori pillows on her table.)  Now she is also hand painting lightweight and generously sized silk scarves in bold colors.   The one below makes a great contrast with a black background.

We visited Nicolette Absil, who works in enamel on precious metals.  Her work is so delicate and intricate that only a close-up will do it justice.  This floral necklace looks like an heirloom that has been handed down for generations.

One of our favorite felt artists, Danielle Gori-Montanelli, whom we've seen at the Philadelphia Craft Show at at LOOT at the Museum of Art and Design, was at the show.  Valerie modeled a black and white pin while Jean put her red felt pencil pin on her hat and grey felt necklace around her neck for the photo.  A highlight was meeting her mom, who was helping out in the booth.

Martha Sullivan brought with her a large and irresistible selection of sterling rings, many of them U shaped with designs on each end of the U.  Here Valerie takes a page out of Jean's book, and loads up with as wide a variety of rings, large and small, as her fingers can handle.

Jean tried on this stylish and eco-friendly jacket at Deborah Murphy Textiles of pieces of black and grey wool sewn to create intersecting patterns. It looked great with her black and grey dress.

Thomas Mann's jewelry  seems like the stuff that dreams are made of.   Mann himself describes his work as "incorporating 20th century collage and assemblage techniques", a perfect description based on the two pieces below.  These are two separate pieces, combined for the photo.  Note the tiny fish skeleton in the cat's transparent belly, and the tiny Milkbone in the dog's tummy, among other notes of interest.  All of Mann's pieces are similarly constructed.  Mann has also had a book published about his work, Thomas Mann: Metal Artist.

Among our favorite pieces in Ayesha Mayadas' booth were her necklaces on which a  variety of hammered silver and semi-precious stones were suspended from chains woven of oxidized silver.

When we came to Christine MacKellar's booth, we found her wearing her own work, and asked her to model for us.  (Doesn't she have gorgeous hair?)  Christine also works in precious metals and stones, so much of her work is intricate, as you can see by the photographs behind her.

Valerie and Hatmaker Tess McGuire model two of her designs in felted wool.  You can see some of the other color combinations displayed on the wall behind them.

Aleksandra Vali, an immigrant from Siberia, has been here for ten years, and shifted her focus from ceramics to metalsmithing following her arrival in the United States.  At her booth, we found a wonderful variety of organic, mid-century style designs in coral and oxidized silver (see Valerie's rings and necklace).

Here, Jean wears sterling earrings with matching rings and necklace by Desiree Delong.  This series, which also has a very organic look, is called calcified blossom.  Desiree and Christine MacKellar are two more artists who have found a home in Brooklyn.

This intricately woven sterling silver bracelet with cubit zirconia by Samantha Freeman feels very comfortable and looks quite smart on the wrist.

It was fascinating to see the infinite number of ways artists worked with sterling silver.  This is some of the work of Rachel Atherley.  Made of openwork, Rachel refers to this as "snakeskin pattern".  All of these - the earrings, rings, single and triple cuffs - are currently on the Artful Home website.  An added bonus of openwork is that it is light and easy to wear.

Shauna Burke's primary material is precious metal (gold and sterling), but she also adds discreet precious stones to surprise and delight the eye.  On the left side of the photograph, a ring and bracelet in gold and oxidized silver.  On the right side of the photograph, another ring and bracelet each with small stones embedded.  The necklace also has a stone, as well as a large pearl.  (Double click for a closer view.)

When we ran into our friends Harriet and Jackie, both were wearing jewelry by Dahlia Kanner, so we were very intrigued before we even entered her booth. Her chunky rings caught our eye. Jean is wearing two of her rings on the ring and index fingers on the left of the photo and on her middle, ring and pinky fingers on the right.

Louise Fischer Cozzi wears several of her necklaces, while Valerie dons a polymer necklae and a stack of colorful silver and enamel bracelets.  Some of Louise's other designs are on display in the background.

Heather Guidero's necklace and earrings feature green chrysoprase stones set in oxidized sterling and the chrysoprase ring comes in sterling and 18k and 22k gold.

Maria Eife's 3-D nylon jewelry comes in primary colors and ranges from a flexible red nylon fabric choker  (on Valerie),  multi-colored wide woven nylon cuffs (Valerie & Jean) and a white necklace (on Jean) with lightweight white almost pod-like shapes.

Ashka Dymel's color-blocked enamel and silver jewelry collection includes multiple versions of earrings, necklaces, bracelets and ring. Both of us liked the look and feel of her pieces.

We couldn't resist trying on the cheery felted wool neck-pieces by Kristin Gereau of KGT Textiles.

Jean models a fistful of Lisa Crowder's large red enamel and silver rings (index and ring fingers of the hand on the left of the picture and the middle and ring fingers on the hand on the right of the photo.

Valerie tried on a large oval brooch made of sterling silver from Theresa Kwong of TK Metal Works.

Below, Valerie is wearing the Tomorrow dress by Heydari, as well as the silvered leather Caracal sandals by Cydwoq, both available on Artful Home.  The Carousel dress, Tomorrow dress and Caracal sandals, all thoughtfully provided by Artful Home, were amazingly comfortable to wear all day.

Jean is wearing a long, black Matte Jersey Ruched Tank Dress by Planet, also available on the Artful Home website, which she wore with her own accessories: a black long-sleeved tee shirt, a black and white felt brooch from Danielle Gori-Montanelli on her hat and black and white necklaces, earrings and knit scarf.

We thoroughly enjoyed our adventure and the opportunity to meet and talk to so many of the Artful Home artists.  Although we had a terrific time in Baltimore, we were exhausted at the end of the second day and both fell asleep on our AMTRAK train back to NYC.

Thursday, February 25, 2016


Imagine two grown women - and two grown women of a certain age, at that - jumping up and down with delight like children one tenth our age about to get candy, and that's us when, only hours before the show began, we were invited to see The Blonds at trendy Milk Studios in the Meatpacking District.  Don't know The Blonds - David and Phillipe?  Read an interview with them here, see gorgeous photos of them here, and see selections from the Autumn/Winter 2016 show, as well as some of their fabulous guests, below.

The theme of the show was Alice in Wonderland, as evidenced by the names of some of the outfits ("Cheshire Catsuit", "Unbirthday Suit", "I'm late", "Off with Your Head").

The show started with a bang, with Phillipe himself strutting into the audience in a pink outfit that Mattel might have dreamed up for Barbie during the years Diana Rigg starred as the jaw-droppingly gorgeous Mrs. Peel in The Avengers.   (No relation to the current Avengers.)

Echoing the inflatable prop flowers, all the designs featured riotous color and a sense of over-the-top-ness.  Here, the model wears a tiny bright blue dress whose frothy black crinoline is an important part of the design.

In a complete about-face, this outfit is very sleek and feline, and encrusted with jewels.  The materials that swept past us were gorgeous and sumptuous.  We were given a list of all the outfits, but the materials weren't named, so we're not sure if we were seeing silk or polyester or cotton or nylon, but everything made the viewer want to reach out and touch.  All the vertiginous shoes were by Louboutin. Check out the little flourishes on the ankles.

Super tough!  Here, really tight striped pants are matched with a puffer jacket in the same material.  Wigs are a big part of the show.  All the models had long blond (of course!) braids cascading from great heights.  The matching hair works to unify the evening's look, but also helps keep the focus on the clothes - no one will be distracted wondering how a particular model does her 'do.

Super feminine!  The 1950s party look updated for the new millennium. The very full skirt is cut to show the very full crinoline underneath. This is a dress to sashay in. Note the little wings on the shoes!

A suit to blow bubble gum in! Playful and insouciant, with the nutty joie de vivre of Fiorucci or Betsey Johnson. Not for the faint of heart or the indecisive.

There was nothing in the show that didn't make a grand splash. Under a sparkling black flowing coat, another show-stopper in vivid candy colors.

Something in a similar vein - short and sleek, but this time the color of a flower shop in spring, offset with a tempting veil, naughty fishnet stockings, and more winged stilettos.

Uncannily reminiscent of Martha Graham's sparkling black sheath in Strike, this would not be a Blonds dress without great bursts of color, which here accentuate the shoulders while framing the face.

Here's a short video of the finale:

As always, click here to watch it full size.

Of course, you know the people attending the show were nearly as astonishing and as colorful as the fashions that went down the runway. Here are just a few.

Two ladies rocking great looks in the lobby at Milk Studios.

More great looks in the elevator on the way up to the show.

And in the studio itself was the dandified Robert W. Richards in a Jean Paul Gaultier vintage couture coat.

Check out the gent in an Andy Warhol-themed jacket (it's actually a formal evening coat with tails) and braided top knot.

This striking couple's looks featured an illustrated jacket on the gent and an illustrated body on the lady.

Dandies on parade:  The ultimate Dandy of New York, Patrick McDonald, returned to his old stomping grounds after a brief stint on the West Coast. Isn't he just the cat's meow? With him was James Aguilar, National Fashion Director for Modern Luxury Magazine, in a black couture suit with embroidered, beaded bees.  Swoon.                                                                          

Susanne Bartsch and Diane Brill share a moment.

Fashion week and nightclub fixture Amanda Lepore ignored the chilly weather. And why not? She's got her platinum wig to keep her warm!

Wearers of wigmaker Stephen Perfidia Kirkham's creations stood out in the crowd. Case in point, this retro-glam raven-haired beauty.

We'd last seen the gentleman in the derby and face paint in the Lexus Lounge at the Chromat show. Loved the young woman's round, white glasses.

Performer and night life denizen Joey Arias joined Diane Brill in the front row. While chatting, they checked out the crowd.

Doorman to the stars, Markus Kelle looked like a sleek black panther on the prowl. He coyly reminded us that the Easter Parade is just around the corner.

Mauricio Padhila and his MAO-PR public relations firm ran the show. His companion is our favorite Glamazon.

Brazilian Gazelle Paulo made the scene, toned down in business striped Moschino (with pink hearts and flowers) offset by a glittering pink baseball cap. We've been reveling in his Instagram coverage of his trip to Rio and Carnival.

Running into Corey Grant Tippen at runway shows and parties is a highlight of New York Fashion Week. His understated, impeccable style knocks it out of the park. As Forest City Fashionista says: "... love a man who can tie a scarf"!

Of course, model & Instagrammer Jillian Mercado was there. She's at all the best NYFW events. Although she was a blond last fashion week, she's has switched to a sleek layered cut in a deep brunette shade.

There were so many permutations of blond that night. And lots and lots of corsets. These two ladies looked a-maz-ing.

Loved the jacket on this young man who was sitting next to us.

Dr. "Wang" Newton was definitely one of the most unique individuals we met this year. With his/her sweeping dyed black pompador, pencil thin mustache and metalic embroidered dinner jacket in homage to Vegas impresario Wayne Newton, Wang takes impromptu videos and does on-the-fly interviews with runway show attendees. His/her boundless energy and positive attitude make Wang the perfect candidate to end this post.

Is it true The Blonds have more fun?
You BET it is!*

* With thanks to Clairol, circa 1965, from whom we upcycle this advertising nugget.  And for the record, greys have a whole lot of fun, too.  Just ask us!