If you can’t crisscross the country touring new museum wings and exhibitions, immerse yourself in Makers: A History of American Studio Craft (University of North Carolina Press, $65). This heavyweight starts with the Industrial Revolution and works its way to personal histories of studio craft artists through the end of the 20th century.
Authors Janet Koplos and Bruce Metcalf position Makers as a comprehensive review of the history of craft “told in human terms.” The focus is on the artists, not simply criticism of the objects they produce—and covers clay, fiber, glass, metal and wood, with mediums clumped together in each chapter.
“Craft is not a neat package with defined edges,” the authors explain in the preface. “It overlaps with design, fashion, art and industrial and folk practices.” To flesh out the history, short biographies of designers are included among longer treatments for lifetime studio craft artists.
Highlights include the greats like furniture masters George Nakashima and Sam Maloof, glass masters Harvey Littleton and Dominick Labino, and ceramists Vivika and Otto Heino and Patti Warashina. But don’t miss the last two chapters—that’s where the authors really dig in with detailed biographies, and where you’ll find the anchors of the craft community we know today.