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May 2011

A Plethora of Information at Your Finger Tips.

The last few days have been a whirlwind of information at the SNAG Conference.

ASKHarrietePINS72Today's post will share information already available online. Stay tuned for more information and blog posts about issues raised at the SNAG Conference, along with podcasts and PowerPoints from the actual conference content from the SNAG Professional Development Seminar.

Here are the links for today.

There was LIVE BLOGGING by Tara Brannigan of:
A Smaller Conference Experience lunch discussion with Glenn Adamson and Lola Brooks


The Professional Development Seminar. This includes three hours of programming and the lunch discussion.

Tarabrannigantype Tara asked me to tell you that she did her best to ensure the content was accurate, but her fingers were flying fast and furious. She was typing the entire time!!!!!!!  She says, "Some sections are paraphrased or perhaps lacking a bit of context, just due to the limitations on how fast I can actually type."

IF you have any questions about what was said, leave a comment on ASK Harriete. I will do my best to contact the speakers directly.

The Professional Guidelines on my website offers two documents that are also very helpful and related to this information:

Blogtalkradio A Blog Talk Radio interview with Niche Marketing speaker Emiko Oye and me, Harriete Estel Berman, can be found on Jay Whaley Blog Talk radio. (The very beginning is a little garbled for about a minute....keep listening.)

This post was updated on February 3, 2022.

Copy of DigitalImageGR

A Smaller Conference Experience

An opportunity for you to meet Glenn Adamson!

GlennAdamsonwhitebackground If you are going to the SNAG Conference in Seattle you can meet Glenn Adamson at a discussion called "A Smaller Conference Experience." Glenn Adamson, Conference Keynote Speaker, and Lola Brooks, a conference presenter, will be guests during the informal “Brown Bag Lunch Discussion” on Friday during the Conference.

Lola brooks Bring your lunch and join us for a fascinating exchange with Lola and Glenn in a relaxed environment. (Box lunches will be available out in the lobby to provide you with speedy food without going out into the Seattle rain.)

Lunch-bag Ask questions, voice concerns, and dive deeper into the issues of making. This is your chance to make connections that last the entire conference -- and beyond. If you aren't coming to the Conference, friend me on Facebook, find me on Twitter, or leave a comment on this blog. Tell me what you want to know. What are the pressing issues in the future of craft?
Brigitte Martin from Crafthaus and I will host the lunch discussion.  Everyone is welcome to join us.


Read the following books to prepare for this conversation or if you just want heavy intellectual content to help you sleep at night.
51ttLEmm8XL._SL500_AA300_ Thinking Through Craft by Glenn Adamson.

The craft reader The Craft Reader by Glenn Adamson is supposed to be much easier to read. Bring your book and get it signed by Glenn Adamson. That is what I am going to do!


The Metalsmith article about Lola Brooks is informative.

This post was updated on February 3, 2022.

The Professional Development Seminar is "GRRREAT!"



I've just finished organizing the Professional Development Seminar handouts and PowerPoints from our speakers. I get a sneak preview and they are "Grrrrrreat"!!!!!!!!

The handouts are available early for people who would like to print their copy before, during, or after the SNAG Conference. We are printing 500 copies, but expect our audience to be much larger!

The handouts are available online even if you aren't going to the Conference for those who would like to prepare for the live blogging during the Professional Development Seminar.

Tony-the-TigerFULL One of the handouts is a Step by Step Tutorial for Adding a Drop Shadow in PhotoShop. This handout, prepared by Christopher Conrad, has over 80 images showing how to create your own fabulous images.

Photographer Doug Yaple created a three-page handout, Guidelines, and Tips for Working with Photographers. This is just the frosting, with no flakes, and the beginning of the "Grrrrrreat" information that will be happening at the PDS.

Tony_the_tiger shouldershead-lg Photographer Rober Schreiber and our Niche Marketing speakers emiko oye, Hilary Pfeiffer, and Deb Stoner have prepared informative PowerPoints that are also a "Grrrrrreat" visual feast. I can't wait to hear what each one of the speakers has to say.

Suzanne Ramljak, the editor of Metalsmith Magazine, asked for more time for her lecture! Marthe Le Van from Lark Books will give us the inside scoop behind the scenes of art and craft book publishing.


P.S. I leave early Thursday. See you in Seattle, or stay tuned to Twitter, Facebook, ASK Harriete for updates.

Listen to Jay Whaley Blog Talk radio on Saturday from 3:00-3:15 for a live interview between me and Jay Whaley.

Funky revelation below:

Quilt dress1975
Here I am in 1975 kissing my Grandfather. He is wearing a classic 1975 leisure suit during a party for my sister. I will be wearing this same dress and earring (I can only find one) at the 2011 SNAG Conference 1970's party in Seattle. Imagine that. A sight not to be missed!

This post was updated on February 3, 2022.

RGB or CMYK, web or print? Get ready for the Professional Development Seminar!

Get ready for the Professional Development Seminar this Saturday.

NBC-1956-logo One of the topics is Photography in Flux: Technical Issues, Media and Style. The issues are complicated.


The world of photography for art and craft is changing rapidly. Is your photography up to date? Does it represent your work effectively?

Alphabet_soup-2350Just to be sure that there is no confusion (before we hear the opinions of three photographers and two editors), I am giving a short tutorial on digital images. Did you read the last post on Digital Image (extensions) - Or alphabet soup? A quick tutorial.

Do you know the difference between RGB and CMYK?

Both RGB and CMYK define the specific color space of a document. By assigning, or tagging, a document with a color profile, the application provides a definition of actual color appearances in the document.

Rgb LCD-MonitorHB RGB is for web/screen viewing.

RGB is a digital camera’s original format.

RGB stands for the colors of light: red, green, and blue.

RGB is for web/screen viewing
but some digital printers use RGB, so it is always best to ask which format they prefer.



                                                        Photo Credit: Emiko Oye

PrintercartridegeCMYK is for print. 

CMYK stands for the ink colors cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black).

Don’t convert your images to CMYK unless instructed to do so by the printer.

Converting to CMYK results in lost data unless your Photoshop Layers are flattened first.

Stay tuned for live blogging from the PDS on Twitter:

You can print your own copy of the Handout early.  ASK Harriete will post an announcement. (The handouts are amazing, by the way, with lots of good information from our speakers.)

Learn more about the Professional Development Seminar this Saturday with our photographers Douglas Yaple, Roger Schreiber, and Christopher Conrad along with editors Marthe Le Van of Lark Book and Suzanne Ramljak, Metalsmith Magazine.

Topics include:
• Are you being judged by the style of your images?
• How much post-production is acceptable and who should do the work?
• Current trends in background and composition.
• The model or the pedestal?
• And much more...

More information about WORKING WITH DIGITAL IMAGES EFFECTIVELY and GUIDE TO PROFESSIONAL QUALITY IMAGES is available online from the Professional Guidelines.



LIFE Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman 

This post was updated on February 3, 2022.


Digital Image (extensions) - Or alphabet soup? A quick tutorial.

I have a feeling that many artists and makers are confused about the different digital images.

DigitalImageGR Are you confused about:

  • RAW
  • PSD
  • TIFF
  • JPG
  • GIF
  • PNG


Does it seem like alphabet soup?

Believe me, I understand, it took me years to get it straight.

Here is a slide presentation on YouTube with audio. Below is a text version on ASK Harriete & a handout. Download DIGITALTIPSfinalRGBCMYK





To create RAW files, you need to set your camera to save files in its own RAW file format.
RAW creates the largest possible file for an image
in your camera.

Cameraraw A camera RAW image files contain the most complete actual data captured by the sensor without any in-camera processing; these are the only files containing “pure” data. Working with camera RAW files gives you maximum control; you can set the white balance, tonal range, contrast, color saturation, and sharpening.

Think of camera RAW files as your photo negative or original slide.
You can reprocess this file at any time to achieve the results you want. 

Book publishers often ask for RAW files to avoid amateur quality Photoshop modifications.








PSD is a file extension for images used only in Photoshop.

PSDs are uncompressed image files.
PSDs can contain multiple layers.
PSDs can contain millions of colors.







TIFs are uncompressed image files.
TIFs can contain millions of colors.
Your photographer should send you TIFF as a "master image".

DIGITAL image of JPG





JPEG is a file extension used specifically for images.
JPEGs are compressed image (and smaller) files.
JPEGs can contain millions of colors.
CREATE JPGs from your PSD or TIFF images.
Do not open and resave JPGs as they progressively reduce quality.









GIFs are compressed image files.
GIFs contain only 256 colors.
GIFs support transparent backgrounds.
GIF is the only extension that supports animated images which may include multiple or automated imagery. This is an animated GIF going very fast, but they can be set for any speed.






PNG is short for Portable Network Graphics
A great alternative to GIF as a compressed image.

PNGs can contain millions of colors, so great alternative to GIF
PNGs support transparent backgrounds.
PNGs are widely supported and growing in popularity, GIF is still the most popular.

Find more information in the Professional Guidelines document Working With Digital Images Effectively.


This post was updated on February 3, 2022, to provide current links.

LIVE BLOGGING for the Professional Development Seminar in Seattle, WA

FOR OVER A YEAR Andy Cooperman, Brigitte Martin, and I (Harriete Estel Berman) have worked on planning for the
Professional Development Seminar...
and it is almost here!

This is scheduled for Saturday, May 28, 2011

We will cover two topics:
Niche Marketing

Photography in Flux with three photographers and two editors:

  • Christopher Conrad
  • Robert Schreiber
  • Doug Yaple
  • Marthe Le Van, Lark Books
  • Suzanne Ramljak, Metalsmith Magazine

ASKHarrietePINS72 The Professional Development Seminar is part of the SNAG Conference, but it is also open to the public.

This year we're trying something new with the Professional Development Seminar!

We know everyone can't all be there in person, so we're bringing the PDS to you! 

Tara Brannigan will be blogging live during the Professional Development Seminar with quotes, links, photos, and more on Twitter at:
Check it out and stay tuned as we kick off this year's PDS. 

In the next few days, I will be offering background and information about the upcoming  Professional Development Seminar.

Wait till you see the handouts! They are fantastic!

Wait till you see the PowerPoint presentations from our speakers. I am working on putting them together now! The information is fabulous.

Stay tuned for sneak previews!

 Did you miss the previous posts about photography. ASK Harriete worked through some of the challenging photography issues for artists and craftspeople? Scroll through the long list of posts. Quality photographic images are the #1 most important issue for artists and makers.

The PDS is sponsored byNEA logo the NEA and MJSA.

This post was updated on February 3, 2022.

MJSA logo

Craft Forward Symposium 2011 - Critique, Critical Comments and Questions


The recently published book, Makers: A History of American Studio Craft provides an interesting perspective on the past century of craft.   It will surely be a comprehensive reference for craft education.  Then comes along the Craft Forward Symposium, with a provocative title alluding to the future of craft.  I was genuinely anticipating learning about all the emerging trends and where they will lead us.

web site for Harriete EStel Berman on her phone Without any doubt, craft is being reinvented.  The rise and impact of movements such as D.I.Y., Internet marketing, and interdisciplinary approaches are shifting how makers participate in craft.

So what is the future of craft?  Where is craft going? What does Craft Forward really mean?

Catmazzaart Unfortunately, Craft Forward sidestepped the difficult issues and kept to "safe" topics like knitting, community, craft activism and easily inclusive group think. Where is the "risk" as touched on by the keynote speaker Glenn Adamson?

My concern is not a judgment of the speakers or lectures,
but hunger for an exchange of insights about where Craft Forward should have taken us.  I have observed craft in the first decade of the 21st century and it is precariously balanced. Word.craft.72 Where is the conversation about the survival (or elimination) of craft curriculum in academia, the disappearance of so many high-end galleries that specialized in craft media, the redefinition of the marketplace with the influence of the Internet, the aging audience for craft replaced with D.I.Y. crafty night happenings?

Theaster Gates asks a question

Theaster Gates asked one of the most penetrating questions after the Mimi Robinson lecture. (The impact was lost because he was much too polite, his observation requires a bit of contemplative thinking, and there was no time to expand upon the issue.) GATES was referring to Mimi Robinson going to Third World countries to develop those craft traditions for the international market. He said, "We have our own traditions. Why go to the third world? We are persons of color, our story is here."

This ties right into his lecture and the lecture by Bridget Cooks. Both lectures address the craft artist without power. No economic power, no financial power, no political power.

John Rose commented on Crafthaus: "We love the idea of "craftivism" at the same time feeling disappointed that we in the craft world have not applied these principles towards our own well-being. Perhaps we should be discussing how to save ourselves first, then the world.

Rose continues...."Nothing we do will have any impact without a political voice. As far as we can tell, NO ONE speaks for craft. We have many national organizations, not one of whom is tackling a single issue that is substantive to the financial/political interests of their constituents."

NEA logo "We, as a group, are increasingly marginalized in American society. Witness the effect on arts and craft curriculum funding. Witness the public demonizing of funding for the NEA and NPR in the budget debates. Witness our own First Lady Michelle Obama who apologetically wears and promotes a British jewelry designer."

51ttLEmm8XL._SL500_AA300_ When a symposium brings together an audience of 400 with the title of Craft Forward, it should bring out more substantive issues than the minor difficulties of knitting a "Rainbow Flag" that runs out of pink or turquoise.

Balance-scale-unbalanced There was something glaringly absent at Craft Forward (with a few exceptions) - a discussion about money. Somehow we are conditioned to perceive as inauthentic or impolite any talk about art, craft, money, and power in the same paragraph.  But the fact is that economy and power are major factors affecting art and craft.  We need to discuss the whole of the issues, not politely ignore the elephant in the room. CupConv12

Over and over this undercurrent remained unspoken, almost actively overlooked.


Dollars in hand Power and money go hand in hand.  We should not conclude that we will lose artistic or craft authenticity if we talk about money.  We can't continue to ignore these facts or stick our heads in the sand. If our work doesn't have relevance to the marketplace, we might want to ask, Why? or we will never have money.  And will craft play a less significant role in the 21st century? This is not because we can't or won't make our work. It will be because our day job prevents us from investing as much time into our work.Dollargr  

If the marketplace can sell "pet rocks" and if a company like Skype (which has never made a profit) can sell for $8.5 billion, then maybe we need to think about how our work can be more relevant. Ten years ago we could not have anticipated the impact of Etsy, Facebook, YouTube, or Internet TV. PET ROCKS  

We need to think, talk or anticipate how the structure of craft is changing.

Theaster Gates shoe shine stands Theaster Gates owns four buildings on his block. He talks with his neighbors, they fix the buildings themselves, they have a block club, there is black ownership of the block which they rent to white students, sell to faculty and create a land trust, or non-profit. The point is that taking ownership of the idea and entrepreneurship is an important step.

Lola Pettway  We listened to Bridget Cooks talk about the collectors, Tinwood Alliance, the museums, and for-profit companies who all made money from the Gee's Bend Quiltmakers. We were appalled at the disproportionate greediness...those who "marketed" the work made lots of money, while the quilters labored for a few extra dollars.  The quilters loved what they crafted with the skill of their hands and the pureness of their heart.  They are certainly authentic.  But if they had received a larger share of all the money made, would they be less authentic?  Somehow we have been conditioned to think that making money contaminates the craft.

Jeff-koons-balloon-dog-magenta-1994-2000 In contrast, we don't seem to view the art world with those same judgmental eyes.  Jeff Koons can make a purple balloon dog* as his art that is fabricated, dare we say, "crafted" by an anonymous worker.  And he is celebrated for his "art"  and paid millions of dollars should we talk about that?

Here is just one suggestion.  Several lecturers used video to document their work. How can video and YouTube expand the craft market? This could be a path to being more relevant to the new craft audience. Should we expand the focus beyond the unique object itself, and document the making or some other characteristics, activities, or attributes of the object?

Longtail Another suggestion: I believe that every artist and maker should have a website or blog. Not a static website that you never touch, but an ongoing reflection and insight into your work. The future of the craft is riding the Long Tail.

 These aren't easy issues and there likely are no easy answers, but what does Craft Forward mean to you? 


A list of all Craft Forward lecture commentary by ASK Harriete can be found in the previous post.


*Photo of the Jeff Koons Balloon Dog by Kathleen Anderson
 This post was updated on February 3, 2022.


Craft Forward Symposium 2011 - An index for all lectures.

Game Board summary  for Craft Forward SymposiumGR

Advance  2  Go  Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman
  Advance to Go© 2011
   Post-consumer recycled tin cans
   Artist: Harriete Estel Berman

Craft Forward is an amazing title that attracted my attention when first announced.

I wouldn't have missed this symposium -- and only an hour from my house. 


$$$ Money Game Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman
 $$$ Money Game Free Parking © 2011
  Post-consumer recycled tin cans
  Artist: Harriete Estel Berman

A symposium about CRAFT moving Forward.  Despite the upheavals and economic struggles for all artists and makers, I anticipated a symposium that could give direction to the future of craft.


$$$ Money Game Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman
 $$$Money Gamer Free Parking © 2011
 Post-consumer recycled tin cans
 Artist: Harriete Estel Berman




Before the symposium, I was so excited and asked, "What is Craft Forward?" 

The topic was prescient and
I committed ASK Harriete to share this information with a wider circle.

Isn't that the value and benefit of the Internet?


  Hot button topics on ASK Harriete






Lydia Matthews in her closing remarks at Craft Forward asked us:

"How can we continue this conversation?"

"How do you move Craft Forward?"

"What do you want to move forward?"

"What do you leave behind?"

Can we "Carry the banner of craft forward?"

Lydia Mathews was supposed to sum up the Conference. A really tough job, but her contribution was worthless, full of hot air while she fussed with her computer to make a word cloud show up.

I dedicated more than a month after the Craft Forward Conference to writing about the lectures on ASK Harriete. The links are provided below. Lydia Matthews did not write one comment on ASK Harriete or anywhere else (that I could find). 

I'll stop talking so you can read...

Craft Forward BANNER  Flag

Life Flower Brooch by Harriete EStel Berman is constructed from post consumer recycled tin cans.

Life is Game Flower Brooch © 2011
Post-consumer recycled tin cans
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman

In retrospect, after attending the symposium, I have indeed learned a lot. Taking time to read and reread my notes, I remember the lectures.

In writing about each speaker and their presentation (condensed to one post), it is hard to do justice to the great effort invested in their talks. I hope reading my posts has provided some insights for everyone whether they attended the symposium or not.

Life is a Game Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman by Harriete Estel Berman

Life is Game Flower Brooch © 2011
Post-consumer recycled tin cans
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman

I am sure the organizers had great plans.  The original description of the Craft Forward Symposium is linked here as a PDF. Download CraftForward letter (just in case you want to read the stated premise of the symposium).

The sessions were well defined and covered a spectrum of craft (or not craft, as you can decide whether the speakers addressed the topic or not.)

The Sessions are listed below with links to the respective posts covering each and every lecture. You can find all the posts about Craft Forward here. General questions and comments raised by the readers of ASK Harriete and my overall critique of the symposium will be the topic of the next and final post on Craft Forward.

Day One  MANUFRACTURED Exhibition at CCA

Exhibition Manufractured Clips, Capsules, Confiscated, and Commentary

Glenn Adamson (a quick preview)

Keynote Address- Keynote Critical Point, the Risk of Craft


Day Two

Session 1:
Sensory Craft The hand book

Sensory Craft with David Howes and Frank Wilson


Session 2:
Body Craft
How Does Craft Shape Bodies? with Lauren Kalman and Allyson Mitchell


Session 3:
Identity Craft
Identity Craft by Bridget Cooks

"Crafting the Politics of Identity" with Nancy Hernandez


Session 4:
Digital Craft artwork with NIKE image
Digital Craft Presented in Hyper Mode, but Lost Opportunity


Day Three

Session 5: Theaster Gates with WHITE hand
Mass Craft 
Mass Craft, Free Market, or Inverted Market

Mass Craft, Theaster Gates Constructs Context with Added Value


Session 6: Making It
Material Craft 
Material Craft with Chris Lefteri Materials Expert

Material Craft with Chris Taylor Blowing Glass (Floating in a Boat, Upside Down or Inside Out)




Session 7: Word.craft.72
Word Craft 
Word Craft - by Patricia Powell and Paul S. Flores



Session 8:
Resistance Craft
Resistance Craft with High Voltage and Low Resonance includes Otto von Busch, Liz Collins, Teddy Cruz

Resistor's Used to create graphic for Resistance Craft  craftcopy

The next post will include comments from the readers and myself, Harriete Estel Berman. It will be the last post about Craft Forward.

This post was updated on February 3, 2022.

Craft Forward Symposium 2011 - Resistance Craft with High Voltage and Low Resonance includes Otto von Busch, Liz Collins, Teddy Cruz

Resistance Craft was the last session of Craft Forward. Faster, FASTER, FASTER.  Read this post at a frenetic pace to feel the increasing speed of delivery of the next three speakers.


SymbiosisOtto von Busch opened his remarks with a video from YouTube about the Flood of a Fire Ant Colony. In the beginners Reverse engineering This was followed by additional images of TROPHALLAXIS ants and butterflies all serving as metaphors for various subgroups of the craft community and more specifically the social structure of the web. 

His lecture was fast and confusing. We were trying to hold on to a rambling train of thought from one idea to the next.  As entertaining and irreverent as it was, I was somewhat disappointed. Share

Instead of conveying a few cohesive thoughts for us to take home, I found about twenty partially filled thought bubbles in my notes. Having met Otto von Busch on the first night, I had higher seemed he could be one of the lecturers who would really talk about craft going forward in the 21st century.


Lizcollinsfashion Liz Collins started her lecture with background about her professional foray into knit fashion.  Ultimately, after a few years, the pressures of the industry (listed below) proved to be too much.

  • Building a brand
  • Producing collections
  • Fashion roller coaster
  • Developing prototypes
  • Demands of buyers
  • Demands of multiples
  • Production schedules
  • Seasonal demands
  • Economic problems

LizCollins1eo While looking for a job as a designer, she started teaching, which then opened yet another new range of opportunities, perhaps most significantly, KNITTING Nation.

LizCollins3eo This was another example of community, craftivism and knitting at the Craft Forward Symposium. I wonder how hard it was for Liz Collins to acknowledge to herself and then to this audience, that the project amounted to making the maker into a machine.  More people, more noise, more management of physically demanding and repetitive work sitting at knitting machines. (Read more about Knitting Nation if you're interested.)


The final speaker Teddy Cruz spoke even faster (think the FED Ex commercial shown below).  Craft Forward was at full throttle right to the finish line. Yet another example of a 45-minute lecture squeezed into 30 minutes.

Teddy Cruz who is an architect, designer, anthropologist, and urban planner, explained how the discards of over-abundance from the United States crosses the border into Mexico. Bdiscarded-tires The issues of reuse, urban plight, ingenuity, zoning problems, and weak government are all intertwined as truckloads of shipping pallets, garage doors, and used tires are hauled across the border.

Cruz3Teddy Cruz expressed one point of view for a complex social, economic, political, zoning, environmental & immigration issue. The topic is not a one-liner or 20-minute summary.

Bpallet-house I appreciated the information and would consider it a fascinating topic for a documentary or PBS special, but it was not craft, nor craft forward.

TeddyCruzMEXICOurban2 Watch the video below, A City Made of Waste, as it includes images and information very similar to his presentation at the Craft Forward Symposium. You will get the idea right away even without "Teddy Cruz" commentary. It shows construction in Mexico using re-purposed materials transformed into houses, workshops, and retaining walls.

Btire-wall Teddy Cruz has a very idealistic vision of urban planning that doesn't fit with the current reality.  While I agree that more planning, zoning, and coordinated communities would be better for everyone, the Mexican urban poor have desperately, sometimes ingeniously, utilized low-cost building solutions. Bigger issues include lack of government oversight, clean water distribution, the absence of sewage systems, and waste management.

What were the thought-provoking issues raised? The underlying theme of community at Craft Forward seemed to view "craft" with a particularly skewed perspective.  A perspective that community-making is somehow the true essence of craft.  This perspective does not jive with the craft realities that I see at academic institutions, the craft marketplace, or pressing economic issues raised by artists and makers in their studios or on the Internet.


Background about the speakers (below).

I could not find a current website for Otto von Busch. 

LizCollins5eo Liz Collins has an interesting website about her work as an artist and designer. It is evident by the background of knitted fabric that this is an important theme.  She is recognized internationally for her use of machine knitting to create groundbreaking clothing, textiles, and installations.


Cruz.ouro.583 Teddy Cruz has a Ted Talk with more information about his urban planning objectives.  It is definitely worth reading if you're interested in these issues.

TeddyCruz5 There are two additional videos with Teddy Cruz on YouTube offering information about the issues he presented at Craft Forward. The videos and the information is interesting.

Listen to Border Cities: Tactics of Encroachment  56:53 minutes

Creative Time Summit: Revolutions in Public Practice 6:52 minutes

Special Thanks to emiko oye for supplying many images in this blog post.

This post was updated on February 2, 2022, to provide current links.




Craft Forward Symposium 2011 - Word Craft - by Patricia Powell and Paul S. Flores

"Word Craft"
was the seventh session at Craft Forward. At this point, we had listened to 13 lectures plus the nine or ten introductions (depending on how you count).

Keys.72 After lunch on the 2nd day, my brain was spinning from the fast-paced intake of information, but my note-taking methodology was improving with fingertips ready for speedy typing.

100 wordsGR At best, the inclusion of "Word Craft" in Craft Forward is a conceptual stretch, but possible.  Unfortunately, neither speaker tied the content of their presentations to the audience of makers or the theme Craft Forward.  It could have been great, to make words relevant to an art and craft audience -- an opportunity lost.  Nevertheless, Paul S. Flores was a discovery worth finding, . . .  keep reading.

Me Dying Trial Patricia Powell is an author. Her lecture titled, "Language and Desire and the Discipline of Art" was the first speaker in Session 7, Word Craft. She professed in her short introduction that she wants her text to be healing by combining the study of energy, medicine, and shamanism. This lecture completely missed the mark.

After describing the characters in her book, "Me Dying Trial,"  she proceeded to read directly from the book. It may be a common practice for authors to read from their books, but I think it is a TERRIBLE IDEA unless the author has a magical voice to craft her words. It didn't happen.

Below are her other books.

PaulFlores The next speaker was Paul S. Flores. He was much more entertaining. In fact, that is what he is - an entertainer. Enjoy the video excerpts below, they are well worth the time to listen carefully to his use of words. 

He opened his lecture by stepping away from the podium and speaking from a standing mike. That one footstep changes the speaker's relationship with the audience.  It was an amazing relief. Most of the speakers at Craft Forward hung onto that podium like it was a life raft.

The video above is provided by emiko oye. Filmed at Craft Forward Symposium.

Below is another video of Paul S. Flores recorded by emiko oye at Craft Forward about "Spanglish".

A large part of his poetry and style is influenced by his Hispanic background. You can learn more about him on his website.


Senatorpodiumgr What did I learn? 
Speakers should not use podiums as a crutch to hide behind. I knew this before, but Paul S. Flores proved it by example without a doubt. Step out and share the power of your message.

Background about the speakers (below).

Powell Patricia Powell is an associate professor of English at Mills College and author of "Me Dying Trial" and "A Small Gathering of Bones" (Beacon Press, 2003), "The Pagoda" (Harcourt, 1999), and "The Fullness of Everything" (Peepal Tree Press, 2009).
Excerpts from her novels have been widely anthologized and she has lectured and led creative writing workshops in literary venues both nationally and internationally.

Below are her other books which are affiliate links.
The Fullness of Everything Agathering of bones The_Pagoda- 

Paul_flores Paul S. Flores is local to the San Francisco Bay Area.  It would definitely be interesting to go to one of his performances. Here is a link to his website so you can find out if he is performing in your area. There is another video on his website showing him performing "Brown Dream."

This post was updated on February 2, 2022, to provide current links.

Craft Forward Symposium 2011 - Material Craft with Chris Taylor Blowing Glass (Floating in a Boat, Upside Down or Inside Out)

BoatwithKiln Chris Taylor is an expert in one material - glass.

During his lecture at Craft Forward, in the session titled "Material Craft",  he showed us image after image of his objects fabricated with glass in the most extraordinary circumstances (and a testimony to his skill).

 This included blowing glass in a small boat (with a custom-made kiln) 25 miles offshore in the ocean (shown in the video below),

or blowing glass while hanging upside down from the ceiling. (This gave him a terrible headache, but it looks like the whole studio had a good time.)

CTaylor_glassbubblewrapHe has created glass that looks like sheets of bubble wrap.





Or a glass cup that looks like Styrofoam. These are playful, irreverent examples of his skill with glass. Chris Taylor tricks the viewer by making glass look like common everyday materials -- an ironic interpretation of "material craft."


CTaylor_glassreplica His tour de force was a reproduction of a 16th-century Venetian glass goblet. He then sneaked his reproduction into a museum and placed his glass side by side with the original. The Chris Taylor glass is faithful to the original and becomes elevated as even the museum staff can’t tell the difference. You can read the story below in an image from his lecture (below).

What did I learn?
Chris Taylor tests boundaries. It seems that he never wanted to have a glass blowing kiln of his own so he teaches or goes places to experiment with glass, redefining how glass is used or made. He is interested in the edge of failure. 

Taylor felt strongly that his art practice doesn't start or stop. His expertise is only because he is so thorough, practicing every day. Practice was described as a dance, with frequency and wave length finely tuned. He wasn't trying to hit us over the head with his virtuosity, it was more like he was offering his most valuable lesson - study and develop your repertoire of skill without promiscuity with other mediums.

What were the thought provoking issues raised?
Usually when I hear people profess their levels of expertise in my media (metal), I am bored. I don't really think it is all that interesting to see ancient techniques brought to 21st century. Pure technical expertise usually doesn't advance the field. In addition, I would not define reviving a five hundred year old technical expertise as Craft Forward.

On the other hand, making glass look like Styrofoam or bubble wrap or a Spalding Basketball is irreverent and playful. This is the polar opposite of the high priced glass "goop", layered, shiny prisms and dazzling light facets shown at SOFA or hotel lobbies.

But I also wonder, Is glass always about a tour de force? Is there glass with social commentary and authenticity of a personal statement?

What do you think?

Background about the speaker Chris Taylor (below).

CTpicture-4It is hard to find information about Chris Taylor. He does not appear to have a website. I am sorry to say that his common name is lost in the search results.  The overwhelming search results are deluged with athletes and musicians of the same name. He is on Instagram as @christaylored.

HINT 1: If you have a common name, use your middle name to create a more unique identity online.

HINT 2: In this day and age, I think a functional website is a necessity. Sharing your work one class or workshop at a time may be great for the moment, but it isn't Craft Forward when the most powerful medium at your disposal, the Internet, is unable to share your work with a wider audience.

I'll go one step further. Craft will never gain momentum in our culture when the leaders in the field think they don't have a responsibility to share with a wider audience. For example, Taylor should put that glass Spalding Basketball out there for all the basketball lovers of the world to fall in love with craft.

The glass cups that look like Styrofoam by Chris Taylor (below) were found on Flickr. Photo by Brian Dennison.StyrofOAMcups

Above photos of glass bubble wrap, Styrofoam cup (close-up), Venetian Goblet copy, and text were by emiko oye taken during the lecture by Chris Taylor.


This post was updated on February 2, 2022, to provide current links.