Frank Lloyd Wright - Taliesin West

Submitted by: Stephanie Canning, Education and Exhibitions Coordinator

While in Scottsdale, AZ in March I had the incredible opportunity to go on a tour at Taliesin West, American architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and studio. The plot for Taliesin West was purchased in 1937 with the commission Mr. Wright earned from the design of Fallingwater house in rural Pennsylvania. Upon arriving, I was struck with how well Taliesin West fit in with the landscape. The walls are constructed with desert rocks and concrete and the entire structure is situated low along the base of the foothills of the McDowell Mountains.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater House (
I went on the 90 minute Insights Tour that takes you through Frank Lloyd Wright’s office, front gardens, cabaret theatre, music pavilion and into the Wrights' living quarters, including the Taliesin West Garden Room and their personal bedrooms. 
Entering into the rooms at Taliesin West is an unusual experience; Frank Lloyd Wright designed the doorways of his structures to be small and narrow, as a way to discourage people from lingering in the entryway and therefore coming into the spaces quickly. As a relatively short person, a cramped doorway is something I rarely experience. 

Throughout the tour it became apparent that Frank Lloyd Wright was an uncompromising designer. For example, the origami chair designed by Frank Lloyd Wright that I sat in the Garden Room was very aesthetically pleasing, but very uncomfortable. 

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Origami Chair (
Every aspect of Taliesin West was thought out and carefully crafted; everything has a place and a reason. At first, the multiple pools and fountains on the property seem out of place in the desert setting. However, given that when Taliesin West was built it was much further away from Scottsdale’s emergency services, the pools serve as an emergency source of water in the event of a fire. Something that would have been on the forefront of Frank Lloyd Wright’s mind, as Taliesin East (his summer home and studio in Wisconsin) was set on fire at the hands of a disgruntled employee.
Taliesin West (Wikipedia

Frank Lloyd Wright lived at Taliesin West until his death in 1959. Today Taliesin West is home to the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and is a National Historic Landmark. If you ever find yourself in Scottsdale, Arizona take the time to go on a tour at Taliesin West, it is well worth it.

For more information about Frank Lloyd Wright and Taliesin West visit

Craft Market Tips and Tricks

Submitted by: Maia Stark, Gallery Assistant

As someone who has only recently begun to be a vendor at local craft markets, I scoured the internet for ideas and tips for my first market experience! I was terrified of forgetting something simple but crucial. In this post, I’d like to list some of the valuable advice I’ve discovered!

Tip #1: Emphasize the hand-made quality of your work.
The first time I bought handmade goods online I was struck and charmed by the special touches the merchant had added: a handwritten “thank you!” note, a cute sticker, colourful string around the interior package. It may be worth thinking about some kind of unique wrapping or nice packaging. When customers feel special and take their purchase home in a way that’s markedly different from a typical retail purchase, they remember that experience. Buying local and handmade products is a special moment in a mass produced retail world—help people remember why buying local is great!

Tip #2: Have works that reflect a range of prices.
Though it doesn’t work for every craftsperson, this is a tip that I’m slowly becoming convinced is very useful. Not only does this mean that everyone who attends the market can afford to buy something at your stall, but shoppers tend to look at prices and objects comparatively. When a browser sees something small and simply made for $10.00, and then looks around the table to see a large complex piece for $65.00, and the even more complex, absolutely stunning piece for $200.00, math is happening. The customer will quickly relate and compare the price to the handiwork, size, and labour which is reflected. Shoppers will (hopefully) understand that your prices are not arbitrary numbers, but each price reflects time, experience, skill, and materials. Shoppers new to craft and new to markets may quickly dismiss items as “too expensive.” By finding a way to have a range of prices which reflect the quality and breadth of your skill, you are assuring customers that you are pricing considerately and according to quality.

Tip #3: Price everything visibly.
This seems like a simple act, but this small tip will keep people looking longer. Shy customers or ones that are reluctant to get involved with the merchant right away will leave preemptively if they are faced with the choice of asking “how much is that? … and that? and this one?” Not only should everything be priced but have the price visible. Pricing with stickers on the bottom of pieces is fine, but if you have delicate or large works, customers will hesitate to pick objects up to check the price themselves. If you think that lots of price tags will make for a messy display, try having small signs set up in sections that say “20-30 dollars” or “50 and up,” so that customers know your price range and you get to keep a minimalist display.

Tip #4: Be present.
At my first craft market my feet were killing me. My partner-in-crime and I had to sit down several times. However, while I sat, I noticed that people didn't seem to talk to us as much. Perhaps the height hierarchy made people feel uncomfortable. Perhaps they think “Oh, she’s taking a break, I’ll come back.” There is something about sitting a lot which I think can prevent people from spending time at your table. Similarly, I think that if a vendor looks bored or tired, people are less likely to approach. This makes for an exhausting day, of course. Smiling and interacting all day, for hours, all while trying not to seem to pander for attention! As well, I fully support that if someone wants to be a crabcake, they should be a crabcake without judgement! Sometimes you just need to humor a bad mood and let yourself feel what you feel. Nevertheless, during a craft market a friendly and open atmosphere could easily increase your sales.

Tip #5: Offer different payment options.
Many people just don’t carry cash anymore! This can certainly be frustrating for vendors. Perhaps you or someone else you know has been in the situation when a customer is really excited by your product and then they say,  dunn dunn dunnnnn: “Do you take visa?” Your face falls. You want to say, “Are you kidding? I made my display out of old lumber, nails, and discount gold spray paint. I don’t have a debit/credit machine!” Luckily there have been developments in the last few years— new ways of accepting cards which don’t let credit card companies charge you extraordinary percentages after you spend upwards of $400.00 on a wireless machine! One such new method is “Square Up,” which is a system that only requires an account (free to sign up for), and a small card reader (also free). All that you require is a smart phone with access to the internet. Square Up takes only 2.75% of each swiped sale, and you have free access to their entire digital inventory system which can also help you track your sales. Being able to take credit cards will certainly increase your sales—customers who don’t make the trip to the ATM will be able to buy product from you!
Square Up lets multiple users access inventory and make sales, depositing sales overnight directly into your bank account. Customers can even request an emailed or texted receipt (Squareup).

For more tips and lots of display ideas, check out these other blogs and websites!

A Look at Precious Metal Clay

Submitted by: Sydney Luther, Gallery Assistant

Many of the craft mediums which are employed by SCC members are ancient art forms that have evolved as technology has changed. Some techniques have not changed for hundreds of years. However, one of the newest craft art mediums is silver clay and precious metal clay. Silver clay was developed in Japan in 1990, which makes it just 24 years old! Considering ceramic pottery dates back to almost 30,000 years ago, this is an extremely new medium.

These earrings are an example of precious metal clay, created by Tara Duckworth.
Precious metal clay jewellery looks like other silver jewellery and is just as durable, but its process is very different than traditional metalsmithing. Metal clay consists of very small particles of precious metal such as gold, silver, and bronze within a moldable binder, which can be shaped similarly to polymer or modelling clay. However, once fired in a kiln, the binder burns away and the pure metal is left behind to create a dense metal object. Firing causes the object to shrink anywhere between 8 and 35% depending on the specific product used.

Earrings by Tara Duckworth.
"Lasting Impressions" by Tara Duckworth.
The pliability of this clay makes it ideal for creating patterns, stamping images, sculpting words, casting leaves, and carving intricate designs. When the clay hardens, one is left with a beautiful solid piece of metal which can be polished just like any other piece of precious metal jewellery. The medium allows for a huge range of possibilities, some of which are different than traditional metalsmithed jewellery. 

In our SCC Fine Craft Boutique we feature the work of artist Tara Duckworth, who creates jewellery using silver clay. On top of her own work, Tara owns an art, craft and gift shop located in Regina called Solitude & Soul. She also does individualized jewellery by special order, such as her “Lasting Impressions,” which are pendants featuring the fingerprints of important family members or anyone one wishes to remember. This is just one of the many interesting uses of silver clay.

Pendants by Tara Duckworth.
To see more of the above mentioned precious metal clay pieces, as well as beautiful work in many other mediums, please come visit our SCC Fine Craft Boutique, located within the Affinity Gallery at the Saskatchewan Craft Council!

Craft in America - Messages

Submitted by: Vivian Orr, Communications and Publications Coordinator

Part two of a
 glimpse of one of the videos in the Craft in America Series. 
For those of you who do not subscribe to cable PBS channels, or if you are like me, you don't even have rabbit ears on your TV, these wonderful videos are available through the public library. 
Craft in America is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the exploration, preservation and celebration of craft and its impact on America's cultural heritage.

Messages: Explore how artists go beyond skill to personal and political expression
copyright 2011

Beth Lipman is a glass artist working in Wisconsin. Her work explores the symbolism of 17th century still life paintings through glimmering creations made of clear glass, symbolizing wealth and consumerism. 

Charles M. Carrillo is an artist, author, and archeologist known particularly for creating art using Spanish colonial techniques that reflect 18th century Spanish New Mexico. Carrillo has blended craft, conservation, and innovation throughout his career as a santero, a carver and painter of images of saints.

Joyce J. Scott is a versatile artist from Baltimore, Maryland. She is a printmaker, weaver, sculptor, performance artist, and educator, but she is probably most well known for her work in jewelry, beadwork, and glass. Her art, in whatever form, reflects her take on all aspects of American popular culture, her ancestry, and the immediate world of her neighborhood.

"It's important to imbue the work with something that will resonate and follow someone home."

"Art can be a tool that can change peoples' lives."

"I'm listening to my Mom tell me stories, and they are not just stories that talk about my family history but they are primers on how to start making artwork that matters."

Thomas Mann is an artist who works in the mediums of jewelry and sculpture. The primary design vocabulary which he employs in the making of jewelry objects combines industrial aesthetics and materials and with evocative romantic themes and imagery. He calls this design system Techno Romantic. Though it is not the only design mode in which he works, it is the one for which he and his work is best known.

"When you have a successful professional career as a craft artist there will come a moment where you making the thing becomes less important than you imagineering the thing. In order for it to benefit other people around you, you kinda have to move on to the point where you train people to make things the way you make them."

"I hardly ever use the word craft artist to describe myself. I just use the word artist. To me being an artist is about expressing yourself and manifesting objects out of your creativity that other people acknowledge as being important to them in some form or fashion and are willing to support your efforts to continue making them."