Friday, October 16, 2009


A 7-state craft fair happens to be here in Asheville so I headed off this morning to see it and found that, like most craft fairs, 80% of the crafts are pretty common, 20% is vibrant and exciting and a handful of artists are truly exceptional. (Of course my 20% and someone else's are seldom the same so probably every craftsperson there is part of someone's 20%.) I started to pay particular attention to what called to me and sometimes stopped me in my tracks to see what I could learn about attention ... or at least my attention. Here are some things I found that stopped me...
  • Frames within frames, different treatments of the edges
  • Texture, especially when created by a mixture of media that normally doesn't go together
  • Color, sparkle and anything shiny
  • Oversized or anything bigger than normal ... smaller than normal didn't usually call to me.
  • Themes or a sense of connection to the artist's passion
  • Juxtaposition or surprising combinations ... a series of blue wine bottles with words such as "gratitude," "misery," or "pity" etched onto them with a warning not to open under pressure.
Anyway, my find for the day was Alan Daigre, a woodworker who makes some of the most beautiful chairs I've seen ... and amazingly enough they are exceptionally comfortable. Daigre calls them "rope chairs" (we need to think of a new name for them) and I was fascinated by the thinking behind them so we struck up a conversation. It turns out he was looking for a way to make a chair "universally comfortable" and started with the idea of articulation so that the chair could conform to any body type. He says he went through a lot of failed experiments before getting to the current model and only then did he start working on the aesthetics. As you can see from the picture, the chairs are incredibly lovely and unique. He uses a mix of indigenous Tennessee hardwoods, often from his own property. (You can see more at his website ...

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