Tuesday, January 24, 2012

From a teacher's perspective

By Leisa Rich, Artist and SCC Instructor

I taught my first art class during the summer of 1975. The school district where I lived was looking for a summer school weaving teacher and I had just learned to weave. As I remember it, my students were around aged 8-88. I was all of 15 years old. I loved every minute as we built frame looms, wound warps and wove traditional tapestries using contemporary approaches.

While I don’t teach weaving anymore, I still teach, and I still love it. When the opportunity came up to teach at the Society for Contemporary Craft, I was thrilled. Of course, new to the SCC, I didn’t know what to expect. What I got was a professional experience teaching creative and interested students in a fantastic setting. Everyone bent over backward to make it positive for myself, and for the students.

I am an engaging teacher. I like to give my students value, so I make sure that I meet as many needs as I possibly can. I set out to make Freeing Motion- a two-day workshop featuring the technique of machine embroidery- about learning a variety of processes, experimentation using new products and materials, and to nurture each student’s personal, artistic discovery. Each student came to class with a different perspective, different ideas, and different approaches. I guided them in how to use their new-found stitching knowledge and apply it to their own works.

We started with some simple stitches:

Added in a variety of products to stiffen, transfer and create 3 dimensional shapes:

And ended up at the end of 2 days with some new ideas…and new friends!

In the book classes I taught, Judge A Book By Its Cover and Beyond A Book’s Boundaries, students were encouraged to stretch the concept of “book” and approach it from a sculptural perspective.

I brought a variety of found objects, materials, samples and templates, as well as techniques that could be accomplished in one day, to help the creative juices flow. The ideas that came out were extraordinary! To accomplish this much in one day is a credit to the talent of the students.

We transferred images onto canvas cloth and heat transfer papers, sliced, diced, folded, built, paint, burnished, stitched, waxed and more!

And made even more new friends!

It was a wonderful experience, and one I sure hope to repeat soon! I love Pittsburgh!

Leisa Rich holds a BFA in fibers from the University of Michigan; a BA in Art Education from the University of Western Ontario; and an MFA in Fibers from the School of Visual Art at the University of North Texas. She has exhibited extensively throughout the US, Canada, and abroad. Currently, Rich lives and teaches in Atlanta, Georgia at the Galloway School and the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Humor in Craft

I'm so excited that we are finally able to talk about this, now that the publisher has officially released it. Crafthaus Editor Brigitte Martin's new book Humor in Craft can now be pre-ordered and will be available in March, 2012. 

Book Description:

"What happens when professional craft artists are allowed to let loose – when they get to explore their mischievous and irreverent sides? Find out in this groundbreaking book, which, for the very first time, reveals an entirely different side of "serious" craft. Hundreds of images and essays from all over the world allow you to gain insight into the creative minds of contemporary artists like never before. A variety of traditional craft media are shown, such as furniture, ceramics, glass, fiber, jewelry, and metal, as well as a number of unique, nontraditional techniques. Even a bus shelter in London gets a creative make-over that's sure to make you smile! The topics range from the playful to the serious, but the message is always most enjoyable. Humor in Craft is a treasure trove for craft aficionados and humor enthusiasts alike."

You might be asking yourself, aside from being awesome in general, what does this mean for SCC? Well, I'm glad you asked — we are currently working with Brigitte to curate an exhibition called Humor in Craft. That's right. It'll make you want to cry...with laughter! Stay tuned for more info as the show gets shaped!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Applications being accepted NOW!

The Judy Cheteyan Summer Internship

This scholarship is dedicated to those undergraduate and graduate students who are currently studying art or arts management. Applications may be downloaded on our website, or requested by emailing kati@contemporarycraft.org or calling 412-261-7003 x12.

The scholarship will be used to pay a $2,500 stipend to the student during the internship. SCC will notify the recipient of the scholarship by letter at least two months prior to the beginning of the internship. Food and housing will not be included but the Society for Contemporary Craft will work with a nearby university or other arts organization to help locate affordable, convenient accommodations, if necessary.


• The applicant must be either an undergraduate or graduate student enrolled full time at a college or university (studying craft, art education or arts management).

• The applicant must provide a copy of their transcript from all colleges or universities attended.

• The applicant must submit a resume or curriculum vitae.

• The applicant must have two (2) letters of recommendation that attest to the applicant's commitment to arts management, or contemporary craft.

• The applicant must write a one-page essay addressing their interest in a career in the arts.

• The applicant must complete the application and include it with other supporting materials.

Applications must be returned to the Society for Contemporary Craft, 2100 Smallman Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or hand delivered to SCC by March 15. The granting of this scholarship will be primarily based upon academic achievement and broad participation in art-related activities.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"The intersection of science, art, and technology..."

2-Layer Center Ring, part of the Cell Cycle Collection

Founded in 2007 by Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg, Nervous System approaches product-design  in a unique way. Using "generative design methods" the team creates organically architectural designs and forms, which they translate into wearable products. 

Cluster Pendant, part of the Xylem Collection. Xylem is based on the process of vein formation in leaves. 

I find their methodology really interesting. They say it best, "Instead of designing a specific form, we craft a system whose result is a myriad of distinct creations. These systems are interactive, responding both to changes in specific variables and to physical inputs. There is no definitive, final product, instead the many designs created allow for mass customization."  By using this type of design, the company and customers are not limited to one designer's concepts. Consumers can create their own pieces using Nervous Systems software, which can then be made into a wearable. By utilizing rapid prototyping and inexpensive materials, Nervous System is able to provide affordable, eco-friendly products that can be customized at no additional cost. 

A striking cellular cuff in stainless steel, inspired by microscopic cellular structures and created using computer simulation and 3d-printing. Part of the Cell Cycle, which was inspired by the intricate mineral forms of Radiolarians.
Read more about this company and their designs at Design Milk, which featured Nervous System a while back. 

Algae Collection. The patterns for these pieces are grown organically through a process that mimics the branching structure of algae and plants.