by Ivy Gilbert
For those unfamiliar with high-end craft culture, the term “craft” can conjure up images of wince-inducing crocheted photo album covers or tacky chair cushions in dull fabrics with over-exuberant ruffles.
Be forewarned: The 30th Annual Germantown Friends School Craft Show is entirely different, and the crafts featured are created by real artisans. And, for the first time in its 30-year history, the GFS Craft Show will feature a designer who uses 3-D printing to make much of her jewelry.
Philadelphia-based Maria Eife is one of the Emerging Local Artists in the show, and she will display an array of jewelry, including rings, bracelets, and necklaces, made using a 3-D printer. Her contemporary designs are geometric elements combined into transcendent architectural pieces. Some form symmetrical patterns; other versions break out of obedient geometrical forms into more unexpected swirls.
Eife’s silver Cage Ring, for example, harnesses the curves of simple circles, combining these with straight silver post supports to produce a ring with the feel of an airy, arched truss bridge. Soaring and sculptural, her work would be at home in any serious art museum shop or gallery.
The most popular items within Eife’s line are her earrings – made when she’s not in the room, via a 3-D printer.
“It’s a very strange and wobbly line” that separates art from craft, Eife admits. She concedes that, yes, it is somewhat unorthodox within the world of fine crafts to use a CAD program combined with a 3-D machine to design and produce much of her jewelry, yet she also believes that her artistry is enabled by both her formal college education in jewelry making and her many years of crafting jewelry by hand.
Eife believes that the finesse of her earrings “comes from the experience of building something in real life. “Because I’ve made it in real life, I know how things fit on the body” she said.” I have experience doing that in the actual world, and that helps me a lot in the virtual world.”
Eife is one of 22 new craft artists accepted to this year’s GFS show; nearly a third of the show’s 71 craft artisans from across the country are new. She joins artists producing fine crafts in categories including wood, glass, wearable fabric, decorative fabric, and mixed media, but the categories belie the diversity of goods.
There is everything in between: bull hide and ostrich leather ottomans and bags; jackets made from hand-dyed silk yarn; wood purses; modern barstools with seats that appear to float above the stool; handmade skirts with appliqued layers of bright color; chrome and wood pens; felt cloches, and much more. Visitors will also find jewelry for every specific taste: earrings, necklaces, bracelets in styles chunky, bold, and modern to demure and dainty.
The show, which Eife touts as “locally, one of the best” with “lots of high-caliber artists”– many of whom also attend the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Craft Show in the fall – has something for everyone.
The Germantown Friends School’s Annual Juried Craft Show benefits the GFS Community Scholars Program and the General Scholarship Fund. Hours: Friday, Feb.28, Preview Party, 6-9 p.m. ($40 in advance, $45 at the door); Saturday, March 1, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Sunday, March 2, 12-5 p.m.
The entrance fee for adults (Friday & Saturday) is $10 per person; students 18 years of age and younger are free. The show is held in the Scattergood and Field House gyms on the campus of Germantown Friends School, 31 W. Coulter Street, Philadelphia, 19144.