In Good Taste

In Good Taste

Published on Monday, November 16, 2015. This article appears in the December/January 2016 issue of American Craft Magazine.
Author Staff
Tile Makes the Room: Good Design from Heath Ceramics

Tile Makes the Room: Good Design from Heath Ceramics

Mark LaFavor

Tile Makes the Room: Good Design from Heath Ceramics
By Robin Petravic and Catherine Bailey
Ten Speed Press, $40

The humble tile has been used as a material for thousands of years, but once you escape into the pages of Tile Makes the Room, you’ll come to see and appreciate it with new eyes. Authors Robin Petravic and Catherine Bailey became the co-owners of the storied Heath Ceramics in 2003. Their exploration of the material they love most starts with a host of gorgeous interior and architectural spaces that have inspired the duo – from São Paulo to Sausalito, from Sorrento to Sydney – and ends with a concise primer on the process of making and installing tile. Throughout, the book is laced with their thoughtful commentary and considerations on design, along with examples of how tile can transform a space. 

Here at the Craft Council, a colleague who picked up the book said she had to put it down because she was tempted to lick the luscious pages – and there may be no better endorsement than that. It is, simply put, delicious. ~Elizabeth Ryan

Little Dreams in Glass and Metal: Enameling in America 1920 to the Present
By Bernard N. Jazzar and Harold B. Nelson
University of North Carolina Press, $65

There is something bewitching about enameling: the way that glass is fused to an opaque surface, resulting in haphazardly illuminated forms, often in the most vivid of colors. While this alluring technique has been part of American artistic vernacular for nearly a century, it has been inexplicably underrepresented in the world of craft. Now, the Enamel Arts Foundation is shedding light on it in a big way with Little Dreams in Glass and Metal, an examination of the field, accompanying a 122-object exhibition of the same name. Featuring striking images of jewelry, objects, and sculptures, including several foldouts, Little Dreams ranges from early masters of the medium, including Karl Drerup and June Schwarcz, to contemporary artists such as Jessica Calderwood and Andrew Kuebeck, who use the medium to explore sexuality, gender, and relationships. It is a gratifyingly comprehensive survey – with a bonus: More than half of the artists featured are women. ~Jessica Shaykett

Nation Building: Craft and Contemporary American Culture
Edited by Nicholas R. Bell
Bloomsbury Academic, $30

In 2012, for its 40th anniversary, the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery hosted a symposium; the essays in this volume of the same name are adaptations of papers presented. While the book, admittedly, is a snapshot in time (preserved here is Glenn Adamson’s piece “Goodbye Craft,” composed before he became director of the Museum of Arts and Design), Nation Building nonetheless remains a diverse assembly of voices in craft scholarship, as well as perspectives the discipline has grown to include – from previously unexamined critical histories of studio craft to a response to the still-escalating effects of digital fabrication. The intervening years have failed to diminish the consequence of this collection; Nation Building delivers on its promise to position craft scholarship within the whole of American culture. ~Perry A. Price