Of all of the ways to support craft and craft artists, one of the most personal ways is through collecting. Personal because, not only are you directly supporting a working artist, but you are also choosing an item to bring into your home and therefore into your day-to-day life. And while collecting can seem like a daunting process to start, it can quickly become a rewarding way to enjoy and celebrate craft.
To help inspire you to think about craft and collecting, we want to share the stories of collectors who inspire us. So, this week, we’re very excited to have craft collector and CC Board Chair Lisa Krieg joining us on the blog! She gives us an exclusive peek into her expansive collection, shares how she got started collecting, and offers some advice for new collectors.
We hope you enjoy the following interview with Lisa as much as we do!
What was your introduction to craft art?
Growing up, my mom and maternal grandma both had an eye for beautiful 3-D hand-crafted items. In my grandma’s case, she dried and arranged flowers from her own garden into complex pyramid shapes displayed under glass domes and she collected delicate porcelains. My mom was gifted – from a house guest in the 1970s – a contemporary bowl by Swedish glass artist Bertil Verllian; that gift sparked a lifelong contemporary glass collecting passion for my mom.
When did you decide to start collecting craft and what was the first piece you acquired?
Collecting hand-crafted items wasn’t really a formal decision. When I started traveling in my teens, I sought out easy-to-pack (and sometimes NOT easy to pack, lol!) items to remind me of the trip experience including textiles, dolls, small vessels, and clever little animals made from local materials. Early on, ceramics were a go-to; they are affordable, useful and complement home-cooked food. One of the first pieces I bought at Contemporary Craft is an almost 3-foot tall wooden vessel by Michael Bauermeister; even years later, I find that piece interesting and beautiful.
What types of craft do you collect?
Many people know me by my jewelry and wearable fiber art. For example, I have a Lego bracelet purchased at CC that always gets a comment, particularly from men, interestingly! I’ve never been afraid of wearing big pieces, and I keep an eye out for unusual necklaces, bracelets and pins wherever I go. My collection covers the whole craft range – glass, metal, ceramic, fiber and wood! Ha! I’ve never thought of it that way until just now.
What is your favorite piece and why?
My Calvin Ma ceramic Not Out There (2014) brings tears of joy for a lot of complicated reasons; it was gifted to me for a significant-decade birthday. The construction is beautiful and highly-skilled – plus the images are mysterious. I love my Bird in the Hand by local ceramist Laura Jean McLaughlin, an amazing green Gary Pletsch dragon-fly bowl gifted by fiber artist and former SCC board chair Julia Sawyer, and a small abstract wooden sculpture on loan from my dear friend, Duncan MacDiarmid, president of Pittsburgh’s Society of Sculptors. A collection of wooden trays and bowls by master woodworker Tadao Arimoto warms my heart as well as spaces all around my home. But honestly, every piece has a story – the human stories are what make each piece special and the collecting so rewarding!
How has being on the board of CC and involved with the organization affected your collecting – has it given you an even greater appreciation for craft? Have you found new artists you might not have found otherwise?
Starting with my CC involvement in the 2000s, the education from the artists about materials and process has been a big draw; the creative process and the intellectual exploration that results in these works is captivating and stimulating. Speaking of appreciation – when I take a class at CC, I learn so much – including how challenging it is to do these things well! Serving on the CC board and now as board chair is incredibly rewarding; first of all, volunteer board work is a positive way to give back into the community, plus I meet interesting, like-minded people who would not otherwise cross my path. Volunteer board work is vital to the success of our city and our communities.
Any advice for people who are interested in starting a collection?
It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy – though I’m not against either! 😉 Support artists with your dollars, your respect, your interest, and your social media “likes” and follows. And, to close where I started – when you are fortunate enough to be a houseguest, take along a locally crafted item to say “thanks!” to your host. You never know where it may lead….