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Rare Craft Fellowship Award

Rare Craft Fellowship Award

The American Craft Council and The Balvenie Raise a Dram to Craftsmanship

Between 2013 and 2017, the American Craft Council Rare Craft Fellowship Award in association with The Balvenie was presented in recognition and support of contributions to the maintenance and revival of traditional or rare crafts in America. Each year, one winner and four finalists were honored. To be considered for the Fellowship, candidates needed to demonstrate the use of traditional and rare craft techniques and processes and meet a quality criterion. 

ACC solicited nominations for the Rare Craft Fellowship Award from a select body of artists, scholars, educators, critics, curators, and collectors. From those nominations, artists were invited to submit materials for consideration by the jurors. Invitation, material submission, and review typically occur during the fall, with the award winner and finalists being announced the following spring.

The Balvenie awarded nearly $100,000 to Fellowship nominees for the continuation of their crafts. Fellows included hatmaker Graham Thompson (2013), boatbuilder Douglas Brooks (2014); bladesmith Bob Kramer (2015, paper folders Martin and Erik Demaine (2016), and shoemaker Amara Hark-Weber (2017).

With more than 200 years of combined experience, the partnership between ACC and The Balvenie was formed on the basis of shared values. By honoring tradition while simultaneously bringing exciting innovations to their fields, each organization continues to support the important act of creating with the simple use of hands, materials, tools, and passion.

The Balvenie is a unique range of single malt Scotch whisky created by seasoned malt master David Stewart, who is dedicated to the five rare crafts that create The Balvenie’s distinctive taste. It is the only distillery that still grows its own barley, uses traditional floor maltings, and keeps both coppersmiths and coopers on-site – making The Balvenie the most handcrafted Scotch. The Balvenie is produced by William Grant & Sons Ltd., an award-winning, independent, family-owned distillery founded by William Grant in 1886 and run today by his direct descendants, and it features one of the fastest growing spirits portfolios in the US.

Recipients and finalists


2017 Rare Craft Fellowship Award


Winner: Amara Hark-Weber, shoemaker
Finalists: Ali Sandifer (Abir Ali and Andre Sandifer), furniture makers; Janice Arnold, textile/felt artist; Martinez Studio (Wence and Sandra Martinez); Emily Nachison, glass and installation artist

Read the press release. Read the feature in American Craft magazine, complete with videos of the winner and finalists.


2016 Rare Craft Fellowship Award


Winner: Martin and Erik Demaine, paper folders
Finalists: Stephen D. Bradway, coppersmith; Teri Greeves, beadworker; David McDonald, ceramist; Erik Noren, bicycle builder

Watch videos, read the blog post, and read the press release.


2015 Rare Craft Fellowship Award


Winner: Bob Kramer, knifemaker
Finalists: Elizabeth Brim, blacksmith; Rocky Carroll, bootmaker; Mark Hewitt, potter; Mary Jackson, basketweaver

Watch videos, read the blog post, read the press release.


2014 Rare Craft Fellowship Award


Winner: Douglas Brooks, boatbuilder
Finalists: Scott Baxendale, luthier; Stephen Bilenky, bike builder; Luisa Fernanda Garcia-Gomez & Crystal Quinn, shoemakers; Ubaldo Vitali, silversmith