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CraftBoston 2012

The CraftBoston show was at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston this weekend. Similar to the Paradise City Art Festival, it is a venue for artists and artisans of contemporary arts and crafts to showcase their work. We have heard about this show, but have never been to it. We were glad we had a chance to stop by and check it out.

This is CraftBoston’s 11th year. The show had over 200 artists from across the country. Some of them have exhibited before, but many of them were new to the show. Besides the exhibits, there were daily talks, presentations, and demonstrations.

When we visit these shows, it can be overwhelming to see so much talent concentrated in one place. Still, it is incredibly enjoyable to be surrounded by all that positive energy. While it is difficult to single out particular artists, here are a few artists we found particularly noteworthy. We encourage readers to visit their sites to learn more:

Be it textilesceramics, or kinetic sculptures, we try to look for things which are in some way unique or that we have never seen before. Patty Sgrecci‘s kinetic sculptures were mesmerizing, and the POTTERY BOWL COLLECTIONS set one’s mind to work imagining how many chip types and how many dip types one could put out in a single, all-bowl-use blowout.

As huge fans of the Golden Compass, we were immediately fascinated by the sculptures in the Insect Lab booth. Mike Libby, creator of INSECT LAB, is a multi-disciplinary artist who makes sculptures, models, collages and drawings using diverse materials. Like our RainyDayIntern, Mike is a graduate of RISD. Originally from central Maine, he currently resides and works in South Portland.

Meeting and speaking with the artists is one of reasons why we like going to these shows. We spent a bit of time chatting with Bonnie Bishoff from Syron & Bishoff. The piece which caught our eye was a credenza made from ash and japanese tamo. The doors of the piece had a veneer with an interesting multi-colored wave pattern. We thought it was paint, but discovered it was polymer clay. We didn’t know anything about the material so were eager to hear more about it.

As it turns out, polymer clay is not really a clay, but more like a plastic. It is soft, easy to work with, and cures at room temperature. Many artists, including Ms. Bishoff, actually use a pasta machine to extrude even layers for veneering and other uses. The variety of patterns and colors which can be created is quite amazing.

We were first introduced to the SteamPunk movement in 2007. Steampunk is a design movement which takes its styling cues from the Victorian era and combines it with mechanical themes to create Jules Verne-ish contraptions and gadgets. Steampunk’s popularity has been growing, especially amongst a sub-population of fantasy and science fiction enthusiasts. We have never seen any Steampunk designs close up so we were pleasantly surprised to find a section at the show completely devoted to the Steampunk-related creations.

Steampunk constructions are often decorated with gears, copper piping, dials, and gauges. There are also creative uses of nixie tubes, bulbs, and things that glow. While some Steampunk items are fictional (ray guns), many of them are quite functional (clocks, bicycles, etc…), if sometimes in unexpected ways.

A lot of Steampunk stuff has no purpose other than to be decorative, cool-looking, or just plain weird 🙂 However, some artists have taken working state-of-the-art tech and reinterpreted its exterior with a Steampunk eye.

The Steampunk computer screen and keyboard is one such example. The setup may appear at first glance to be a turn-of-the-century typewriter, but it is actually a Macintosh computer in disguise.

Those in Boston interested in the whole Steampunk phenomenon should mark their calendar for the upcoming Watch City Festival in May. The festival will be held in Waltham, the Original Steampunk city. There will be vendors, live music and theatrical performances, dirigible races, and lots of other activities.

This was our first CraftBoston show and we came away impressed. The show was well organized and the artists were all first rate. We look forward to coming back next year.

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