Fashion & Beauty

5 Must-See Artists at Smithsonian Craft2Wear Show

September 29, 2015

Tags: ,

DON’T KNOW ABOUT you, but for me the term “craft show” has always conjured images of macramé, sock puppets, folkloric skirts and strange coffee tables made from tree stumps. So I was pleased to learn that the Smithsonian sponsors a fall show that is way different. For one thing, it features top craft artists from around the country, all previously juried into the renowned spring Smithsonian Craft Shows. Plus–-fashionista alert–the fall show is all about art you can wear. One-of-a-kind jewelry, clothes and accessories, and not a gauze-print maxi skirt among them. The show starts Thursday evening Oct. 1 and continues Friday and Saturday at the National Building Museum.

I discovered Craft2Wear last fall and it immediately sold me. Actually, Starr Hagenbring sold me, with an amazing jacket—silk moire-lined, with stitched faces on the front and back panels (see inset picture from my closet). Turns out she’ll be here again this year, so I called to see what she’d be bringing.

Hagenbring shared her inspiration for this fall’s collection–“I love insects.” Fascinated with the line and form of these often maligned creatures, she says she hopes her work will make people take a closer look at them. Her newest pieces feature silhouettes in different patterns with lace that she paints and then sews on. “Some of the lace montaged with paint gets almost Escher-like, some are more like shadows,” she says. “Each item is like a puzzle, with so many pieces I don’t really know how it will all work together till it’s done.”  I swear I see gold bugs in my future.  New Orleans boutique Art and Eyes features Hagenbring’s work; her “independent other” Paul Wilcox is responsible for the eye part. He carries more than 17,000(!) different eyeglass frames, all from small independent lines.

My eyes will also be focused on the wares from these four artists:

Aaron Macsai
Macsai is a goldsmith so captivated by the different hues gold can take on that he actually makes his own alloys in 17-, 18-, 19- or 22-karat gold. “I found an old ‘recipe book’ a few years ago,” he explains, “and just started experimenting. Gold can be rose, even greenish, and the colors blend in subtle ways.” For Craft2Wear he plans to feature his most current work, combining 18-karat beads with muted-color raw diamonds and other dark stones that contrast well with the yellow gold. These pieces are so new he doesn’t even have pictures yet, so we’ll just have to see them at the show. Until then, see some of his older pieces here.

Ignatius Cretan and Rod Givens
Well known for their fanciful one-of-a-kind straw hats, Cretan and Givens are featuring berets and canvas hats for fall. “The canvas offers a good fall transition,” Ignatius points out. “It’s not too hot and not too warm–and you don’t have to worry if you get rained on.” They may also be showing a few historic hats. The two are creating costume hats for Colonial Williamsburg and Monticello, as well as hats for a new civil war TV series, “Mercy Street,” scheduled for this fall.

Reiko Ishiyama
Ishiyama started as a sculptor, and her necklaces retain a sculptor’s three-dimensional sense of form. A tiny woman herself, she also understands that not all of us want Really Big Jewelry, so her smaller silver earrings are well worth a look. Check out her website for a truly poetic description of the influence of light and shadow on her work.

Harvey Greenwald
Greenwald has been working with leather for 48 years. He started at Woodstock–yes, that Woodstock–in 1969. And although he’s not doing headbands and fringe bags any more, he’ll have pictures of his Woodstock days at the booth. His bags are all one-of-a-kind, and he should have a representative sample of his classic purses, handled zipper totes, briefcases and his latest carrier category, backpacks.

There will be more than 50 other artists at the show, with great things to see and stories to tell. Prefer your shopping with drinks and hors d’oeuvre? If you go to the show’s website, you can buy tickets to the Thursday, Oct. 1 Advance Chance Party, 5:30-9 p.m. (Tickets $75, reservations required). Or come for the Artful Happy Hour on Friday, Oct. 2, 5:30-8 p.m. There will be a cash bar and–what else?–craft brews.

The show and sale continue throughout Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m, and Sat., 10 a.m.– 5 p.m. Tickets are $10, cash only, payable at the door. The National Building Museum is located at 4th and F streets NW, Washington D.C., on Metro’s Red Line.

Entrance fees and a portion of your purchases will help the Smithsonian Women’s Committee fund grants for the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, nine research centers and the National Zoo.

— Kamer Davis
Kamer Davis advises federal agencies on communication, but her weekend beat is any boutique, antiques show, gallery, street fair or flea market where she’s likely to find interesting and unusual stuff.

2 thoughts on “5 Must-See Artists at Smithsonian Craft2Wear Show

  1. Juan Manuel Sotelo says:

    Great article, most informative and artfully written. I would suggest to get some inspiration from the ants in Brazil, well organized and spaced by major colonies.


    Juan Manuel

    1. Kamer Davis says:

      I am afraid, given the number of anthills in that large country, that only a size Extra Large would work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *