ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Meeting the Artists at The Smithsonian Craft Show

Updated on April 27, 2013
The grand atrium of the National Building Museum (upper two stories).
The grand atrium of the National Building Museum (upper two stories). | Source

The Smithsonian Craft Show

The Smithsonian Craft Show, one of the nation’s most prestigious juried shows, attracts skilled artists and craftsman in glass, fiber, paper, wood, ceramics, metal and many other media from around the country. This year it runs from April 25-28 in the grand main atrium of the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. The show is produced annually by the Smithsonian’s Women’s Committee, which for 47 years has used the proceeds to fund over 10 million dollars in grants to different projects within the Smithsonian for research, education and outreach. This year there were over 1200 applicants to exhibit; a jury reviews the applications and there were only 121 selectees, making the show both intimate and extremely high quality. The artists staff their booths themselves, answering questions about their work. For the casual attendee the prices of the artwork may be out of reach, but the opportunity to chat in person with artists about what they do is priceless.

Landscapes in Paper

Sherri McDonald of Paper Mountain Studio came all the way from Southeast Alaska for her first ever exhibit at the Smithsonian Craft show. Not only is this her first exhibit at this show it is her first outside Alaska. She is staying with a friend in Maryland and taking the metro to and from the show each day. Ms. McDonald creates intricate, painterly collages of landscapes seen in her home state. Her work is richly colored and softly textured. The colors blend so smoothly you have to examine her work closely to realize it is paper collage. Ms. McDonald states it takes her between 3 and five months to complete most of her collages. She laughingly stated her best year ever was 5 collages. During the day she works teaching art to disabled persons, and then after her children are in bed she works until midnight in her studio. She admitted she gets tired but has gotten used to getting by on 5 hours of sleep. She started out working in bookbinding, and when she moved to Alaska she was creating her own, handbound blank books. She began doing collages as a way to create cover art for her books. Over time she began to exhibit and sell the collages themselves, although she admits she hates to sell her work and has kept many of her favorite pieces as well as selling work to family members to keep them in the family. Her work is available through her online marketplace

Jewelry, baskets and hats are among the many intriguing crafts found at the Smithsonian Craft Show.
Jewelry, baskets and hats are among the many intriguing crafts found at the Smithsonian Craft Show. | Source
Friends trying on wearable art at the Smithsonian Craft Show.
Friends trying on wearable art at the Smithsonian Craft Show. | Source

Fabulous Quilts

Liz Jaff, from New York, is another first time exhibitor at the Smithsonian Craft Show, which is also her first exhibit of her beautiful quilted fabrics. She features bedcovers, pillows and notecards with quilted designs. She has been quilting for 4 years and sees it as a natural outgrowth of her work as a sculptor and painter. She taught herself sewing because quilting and fabric art allows her to work in color. Her centerpiece of the Smithsonian Craft Show exhibit is a full size red and white quilt using vintage Japanese and French fabrics as well as modern fashion fabric. The quilt is fully reversible, with different patterns on each side. The main panel of the displayed side is a banner from a Shinto temple that had been retired from the shrine. The panel is red with white Japanese kanji of the word “Inari,” the fox-god the shrine was dedicated to. It also has the names of the couple who initially gave it to the shrine. Ms. Jaff is upbeat and outgoing. She states that anyone can learn to sew; it’s just a question of how much you want to learn. She encourages taking sewing classes to learn basic technique. You can find her online at

Weavings with Spirit

Also from Wisconsin, Wence and Sandra Martinez are a husband and wife team who are also exhibiting for the first time at the Smithsonian Craft Show. Their corner booth displays amazing weavings done by Wence in the traditional style of his Zapotec heritage. He uses churro wool which is handspun and which he then hand dyes. The designs on the weavings are drawn by Sandra, who has been doing primitive drawing for 30 years. Her inspirations are Haitian metal work and automatic writing. Sandra is a warm, engaging friendly woman who talks readily about her work and her life, laughing as she recounts a visit to a country music festival where they went incognito by wearing cowboy hats. Her drawing does not begin with a particular concept but instead she calms herself and lets her work flow. She uses her drawings to honor nature and spirit. Lately, because of her concerns about genetically modified corn in Oaxaca, where she and Wence have spent large amounts of time, she has been paying tribute to plants in her work. However she encourages visitors to their booth to describe what they see in her work, appreciating the differing interpretations. Their website at offers further work and details about their process.

Bring the Forest Home

Bill Perkins creates sturdy furniture using twigs and stones that brings the outdoors inside. His comfortable sturdy rocking chairs look as though they grew out of the forest floor. When asked why rocks and twigs he laughed and commented that they go together because they are rustic. He obtains his rocks from Lake MI and applies varnish to make them more attractive. He developed a technique of creating a basket for rocks under the surface of his tables by accident; he was creating a mirror panel when the mirror broke. He decided to turn the project into a table and instead of filling the hole in with a wood panel he wove a basket to hold some rocks and covered the surface with glass. He says people loved it and he has continued to create them. You can find his furniture online at


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Rose Anne Karesh profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Anne Karesh 

      6 years ago from Virginia

      Hi Natashahl, I hope you make it there someday! If you do let me know so I can stop by your booth.

    • Natashalh profile image


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      As an artisan, I can't even imagine what an amazing opportunity it must be to attend this show as a participant. Wow! It would probably be the coolest thing in my life ever if I were to attend.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)