Craft in America

Use this collection of lessons, video clips, and images to explore America's creative spirit seen through the language and tradition of the handmade. Students will learn about the artists, origins, and techniques of the American craft.

To learn more about this series, visit Craft in America

  • Día de los Muertos: Tradition and Translation | Craft in America

    Día de los Muertos: Tradition and Translation explores the work of Ofelia Esparza in the BORDERS episode. BORDERS explores the connections between Mexico and the United States through craft. Ofelia Esparza, educator and life-long artist, is an altarista, a master altar maker who teaches the meaning and history of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and the altars that commemorate loved ones who have passed away.

    Grades: 9-12
  • A Fellow Human Being | Craft in America

    A Fellow Human Being explores the work of Magdalena Pedro Martínez and Jaime Guerrero in the NEIGHBORS episode. NEIGHBORS explores the connections between Mexico and the United States through craft. Magdalena Pedro Martínez is a barro negro ceramist, specializing in female figures dressed in the traditional costumes of the regions of the state of Oaxaca. Jaime Guerrero is a glass artist who creates life size figures in glass to address issues of social inequality and the need for change, often focusing on urban and Latino culture.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Conversations and Cups | Craft in America

    Conversation and Cups explores the work of Ehren Tool, featured in the SERVICE episode. The SERVICE episode is the story of craft and the military. From the origins of the Army Arts and Crafts Program and the G.I. Bill to contemporary soldiers and veterans, SERVICE documents the power of the handmade to inspire, motivate, and heal. Tool is a ceramic artist and Senior Laboratory Mechanician at the Ceramic Department at University of California, Berkeley, and Marine Veteran of the 1991 Gulf War.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Holiday | Craft in America

    HOLIDAY embraces familiar and new winter celebrations as part of our American experience with the handmade. Featuring ceramic artist Susan Garson, paper artist Kathleen Trenchard, ceramic artist Veronica Castillo, the National Gingerbread House Competition at Grove Park Inn, Biltmore House, and woodcarver Harley Refsal, of the John C. Campbell Folk School.

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Moulthrops: A Family of Woodturners | Craft in America

    The Moulthrops: A Family of Woodturners explores the work of three generations of woodturners in the FAMILY episode. Ed Moulthrop, known as the father of modern woodturning, was an architect who found a passion for creating beautiful large-scale turned wood objects. He single handedly raised national awareness of woodturning as an art while inventing tools used by woodcrafters today. Philip Moulthrop followed a career path similar to his father’s and trained to be a lawyer but found greater satisfaction in making uniquely patterned wood bowls. Matt Moulthrop apprenticed with his father and grandfather and continues the family tradition.

    Grades: 9-12
  • History and Improvisation: Making American Music | Craft in America

    History and Improvisation: Making American Music features the craftspeople and musicians showcased in the MUSIC episode. MUSIC features finely crafted handmade instruments and the world renowned artists who play them. MUSIC features interviews and performances from Joan Baez, Rhiannon Giddens, Director of the Count Basie Orchestra Scotty Barnhart, banjo master Tony Ellis, LA Philharmonic timpanist Joseph Pereira, and virtuoso ukulele player Jake Shimabukuro. Instrument makers featured are Martin Guitar, Hartel Banjos, Monette trumpets, Stelling banjos, and Kamaka ukuleles.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Chloe Darke: Function and Expression in Metalsmithing | Craft in America

    Chloe Darke: Function and Expression in Metalsmithing explores the work of Chloe Darke featured in the FORGE episode. The craft of silversmithing in New England existed even before America's most patriotic silversmith, Paul Revere, made his famous ride. Old Newbury Crafters in Amesbury, Massachusetts was one of the best at the time. Fourteen generations later, it is now in the capable hands of a young metal artist, Chloe Darke. She leads the company in hand forging extraordinary objects and declares "there's a rebirth of craft for people in my generation who are interested in traditional ways of making things."

    Grades: 9-12
  • Terese Agnew: Drawing with Thread | Craft in America

    Terese Agnew: Drawing With Thread explores the work of fiber artist Terese Agnew in the THREADS episode. Agnew's work has evolved from sculpture to densely embroidered quilts by a process she calls “drawing with thread”. Her themes are environmental and social. Her most notable quilt, Portrait of a Textile Worker, is constructed of thousands of clothing labels stitched together, contributed by hundreds of sympathetic individuals worldwide. The resulting image is about the exploitation and abuse of laborers, the by-products of globalization and the insatiable American appetite for goods.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Thomas Mann: Design Vocabulary | Craft in America

    Thomas Mann: Design Vocabulary explores the work of Thomas Mann. Through his series Storm Cycle, Thomas conveys messages and stories related to the events of Hurricane Katrina.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Tanya Aguiñiga: Crossing Borders | Craft in America

    Tanya Aguiñiga: Crossing Borders explores the work of sculptor/fiber artist Tanya Aguiñiga in the CROSSROADS episode. Aguiñiga grew up in both San Diego, CA and Tijuana, Mexico, a bi-cultural artist whose quest is to create a dialogue between two very different cultural experiences in her craft-based artistic expression.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Teri Greeves: Beadworking & Belonging | Craft in America

    Teri Greeves: Beadworking & Belonging | Craft in America explores the work of bead artist Teri Greeves in the ORIGINS episode. Greeves is a beadwork artist who lives in Santa Fe, NM. She is enrolled in the Kiowa Indian Tribe of Oklahoma. Teri follows and updates the Kiowa tradition of beadwork, to tell the story of the American Indian, both contemporary and historical. Her works include beaded books, jewelry, and even high top sneakers!

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Sorrell Family: A Perfect Fit | Craft in America

    The Sorrell Family: A Perfect Fit explores the work of bootmaker Lisa Sorrell in the FAMILY episode. Sorrell began learning to sew at age twelve. At fifteen she was both designing her own clothing and sewing professionally. In 1990, she moved from Missouri to Guthrie, Oklahoma and began looking for work. By chance, she answered an ad for “stitching boot tops”. The bootmaking craft fascinated and challenged her in a way clothing had never done, and she quickly decided she wanted to learn to be a custom bootmaker. Lisa opened her own business, Sorrell Custom Boots, in 1995.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Roberta and David Williamson: Subjective Objects | Craft in America

    Roberta & Dave Williamson: Subjective Objects explore the work of jewelry artists Roberta & Dave Williamson in the PROCESS episode. The Williamsons create jewelry that combines ephemera and found objects, some of which has been passed down in their families, and others found at the many flea markets and antique shows they frequent. Working as true partners in the process, Dave brings the technical skills that complement Roberta's creative combinations of art and design.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Julie Chen: Thinking Outside the Book | Craft in America

    Julie Chen: Thinking Outside the Book explores the work of book artist Julie Chen in the PROCESS episode. After completing a degree in printmaking at the University of California, Berkeley, Chen became intrigued by the language, equipment, and materials of Book Arts and entered the Book Arts program at Mills College. Book Arts encompass binding, letterpress, printing and printmaking, combined with three-dimensional art. The finished products are unique three-dimensional pieces of art that include text.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Apprenticeships: Altering the American Potter | Craft in America

    Apprenticeships: Altering the American Potter examines the work of Clary Illian, Jeff Oestreich, and Warren Mackenzie from the CROSSROADS episode. Connected by their individual experiences as apprentices at Leach Pottery in England, these potters are influenced by the Mingei philosophy of creating hand crafted art for utilitarian, everyday use. They continue to work based on the idea that everyday handmade objects are honest, inexpensive, and functional—and by this virtue, fill one’s life with beauty.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Jim Bassler: Woven in Tradition | Craft in America

    Jim Bassler: Woven in Tradition explores the work of weaver and professor Jim Bassler in the ORIGINS episode. Bassler was introduced to the textile traditions, including the hooking of rugs, at an early age from his father. The Cold War strategies gave him the opportunity to see the world and introduced him to the craft traditions of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. The textiles that inspired him during his travels became the foundation for his work. His weavings also draw inspiration from pre-Columbian, Andean, and Mexican textiles.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Joyce J. Scott: Sharing Memories and Shaking Things Up | Craft in America

    Joyce J. Scott: Sharing Memories and Shaking Things Up explores the work of artist Joyce J. Scott in the MESSAGES episode. Scott is a Baltimore bead artist. Joyce learned quilting and beading from her mother and draws from references as wide-ranging as Africa and comic books to focus on issues such as race and stereotyping.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Gee’s Bend and the Oriole Mill: Time and Textiles | Craft in America

    Gee's Bend and the Oriole Mill: Time and Textiles explores the INDUSTRY episode, focusing on the handmade in the creative economy. In Gee's Bend, Alabama, quilting has brought economic success to women whose remarkable quilts have astonished the world. Quilter Joe Cunningham visits Lucy Mingo and Rita Mae Pettway in Gee's Bend, where quilters learned their skills from generations of women who passed down their expertise. At The Oriole Mill in Hendersonville, North Carolina, American textile manufacturing is thriving and artist Bethanne Knudson is proving, through creativity, expertise, and sheer determination that an industry can revive itself.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Consuelo Jimenez Underwood: Weaving Together Content and Form | Craft in America

    Consuelo Jimenez Underwood: Weaving Together Content and Form explores the work of fiber artist Consuelo Jimenez Underwood in the THREADS episode. Underwood incorporates weaving, sewing, painting, and appliqué to produce a proud political statement, representing her own history as a migrant agricultural worker, signifying her hybrid culture as well as the arbitrary lines that divide. Artistic expression is tied to traditional Huichol weaving, which she incorporates into her large textiles. Borders and barriers are the vocabulary she uses to describe and celebrate the lives of migrant workers and indigenous people.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Sharing Our Stories in School | Craft in America

    SHARING OUR STORIES IN SCHOOL explores the work of Therman Statom in the "Teachers" episode of Craft in America. "Teachers" highlights artists' committed to sharing skills and passion for craft with a new generation. Therman Statom​, sculptor, glass artist, and painter is known as a pioneer of the contemporary glass movement. His life­size glass ladders, chairs, tables, constructed box­like paintings, and small scale houses bewitch with vibrant colors and spontaneous line work. National Arts Education Week, as designated by Congress in 2010, is September 11-17, 2016.

    Grades: 6-12