The International Show is taking place at the Park Avenue Armory this week but the art fair that you really want to know about is the American Fine Craft Show. Just one month away, the American Fine Craft Show is set to take place on November 21-22 at the Brooklyn Museum and close to one hundred artists and designers will be there to introduce their art. If you want to attend an art fair that is welcoming – and affordable – this is the one you want to attend. Examiner spoke to some of the artists to learn more about the best of crafts in New York. Here is the first article of many.
Michael and Michelle LaLonde are artisans and fashion designers who craft one-of-a-kind handbags and accessories, working together for 31 years. Made of leather, fabric, cork and exotic skins, their handbags have been popular buys at the AFCS for over two decades now.
Meg Branzetti and Vicky Kokolski of MeKo Designs are glass artists who have been working together for the past 20 years, and showing with AFCS for almost as long. Natives of Brooklyn, the two love showing at the museum and have been a part of AFCS shows all around the nation.
Both artist duos are excited to be a part of this November’s fair – and we are just as excited to see them! They each answered a few questions for us:
Examiner: Explain your creative process.
LaLonde: First, let me say, we love what we do. We usually work 10-12 hours a day and usually 7 days a week. Michelle designs the handbags and makes the patterns, which Michael cuts out of leather. He hand cuts the handbag stays, “turns” the leather onto them and attaches the hardware. Michelle then sews the handbags.
MeKo: Our medium is Fused Glass. When we begin a piece we may have a concept. During the creative process it may change completely. As we work on a piece the glass art takes on a life of its own. We use hand made art glass, frits of all sizes and include metals that interact with the glass to give it another dimension. After the piece is done it is fired in a kiln that can take up to 3 days depending on the size of the work.
Examiner: What makes this show different from other art/craft fairs out there?
LaLonde: The Rothbards [AFCS founders Richard and JoAnn] really care about the artists who participate in their shows. Richard is a wood artist and exhibits as well … and that makes all the difference. He knows what it is like to design and craft an item, promote the piece and then sell it. Because of that, he spends a lot of time searching for locations that will appreciate his artists’ work. When he plans a show, he advertises and promotes it well. The Rothbard shows are always organized and well planned.
Examiner: What are you working on this year for the craft show?
MeKo: Intwined is a piece that depicts the pure emotions and the inner workings of city life. The metal ladder represents accession into confusion and then the way out. It was created by cutting neutral tones of art glass, outlined with powdered frit then fused multiple times to achieve the desired effect. A person who is drawn to works that intrigue will be drawn to this work.
LaLonde: This season we are doing a lot with mixing the prints…using prints that compliment each other. Decorative techniques such as beading, applique and trapunto are also important this year…adding to contrasting textures. Laser cut leathers are a new technique we are experimenting with right now…very exciting!
Examiner: Is there anything visitors should know before attending the American Fine Craft Show this year?
LaLonde: Plan to spend as much time as possible at the show. We artists love to talk with you about our work – what inspires us, our process making the art, and more. The artists participating in this show are some of the best in the USA. We feel honored to be part of this show and be exhibiting in the Brooklyn Museum.