CraftNOW is the craft and DIY dream that Philadelphia needs


At only three years old as an organization, CraftNOW Philadelphia has done a great job of uniting the local handmade community and making the public aware of this city’s history of the art of craft, as well as its currency as a contemporary craft scene for arts-based in wood, clay, fiber, metal and glass. Why not celebrate that with a party? CraftNOW’s 2018 fundraising event, at Bahdeebahdu (located at 1522 North American St.) on September 25. Also not to be missed is a series of fall programs that lead and feed into the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show (visit for more information) which takes place November 2-4.

Leila Cartier, Executive Director of CraftNOW, estimates that roughly forty Philadelphia institutions, galleries and maker-spaces form the massive crowd that populates her organization. CraftNOW regularly communicates with these groups to discuss collaborative opportunities and partnerships. “There are many individuals that are working in support of CraftNOW behind the scenes as well,” said Cartier. “Each of the institutions I just counted has their own director, curator, marketing and/or education personnel involved plus their network of artists and makers. Therefore, that number expands dramatically when you factor in these individuals and their contributions to the craft community.”

CraftNOW is a DIY dream

CraftNOW then provides the groundwork and platform to bring all in the handmaking community together to create opportunities that might not be achievable single-handedly. They’re also looking to develop a network among craft collectors, galleries, well-known scholars, emerging talent and aspiring craft makers of all ages to join in on educational and vocational opportunities. “Filling a gap in the cultural landscape, CraftNOW cultivates citywide collaboration and programmatic activity to showcase Philadelphia’s remarkable resources in the field and reinforce the city’s “civic brand” as the nation’s leading urban center for craft and making in the 21st century,” said Cartier.

The mission then of CraftNOW, now, between the opening September soiree and the Philadelphia Museum of Art Contemporary Craft Show is to offer additional craft-related activities such as studio tours (on Oct. 13). CraftNOW is also offering a “Making a Difference” symposium with pottery master Roberto Lugo. In doing so, CraftNOW hopes to drive peoples’ awareness to their organization. What better way to start than a party at Philly’s house of lights – Bahdeebahdu, Philly’s Due North when it comes to craft – with light sculptor-designer Warren Muller. “Bahdeebahdu is just an incredible gem and stunning space to enter,” noted CraftNOW’s director “You can often find Warren working on his pieces or RJ Thornburg drafting beautiful interiors to be realized elsewhere. Their willingness to host our special fundraising event this fall is evidence of the generosity in this community and everyone uniting in support of one another. That generous and creative spirit is what drives CraftNOW’s mission.”

Then there is this year’s theme, “Making a Difference .” The theme plays into how craft, in general, promotes positive change, social cohesion and meaningful dialogue. “Making a Difference” creates a cocoon around CraftNOW’s upcoming events and activities. It all comes down to the CraftNOW organizers’ belief in the possibilities of craft as a community convener in a divisive age. “People from all walks of life, all ethnicities, age groups, neighborhoods and political viewpoints can and do participate in making things,” said Cartier. “Our events are free and open to the public. CraftNOW Create, for example, provides an introduction to hands-on activity and showcases our partners with educational programming year-round. Through this, CraftNOW is equally invested in promoting the city’s exceptional craft offerings as it is bolstering the quality of life for all Philadelphians. Ultimately, we want everyone to experience what makes Philadelphia the recognized leader in the field of craft. Our goal is to make Philadelphia known as the premier destination for craft in the world.”

If you go:

Sept. 25, 6 p.m., Bahdeebahdu, 1522 North American St., Philadelphia, 

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