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Saturday: 10am - 5pm

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Participating artists: Nicole Baxter, Linda Chow, Robin Dupont, Milt Fischbein, Matt Gould, Terry Hildebrand, Brad Keys, Eveline Kolijn, Diane Krys, Darren Petersen, Jean-Claude and Talar Prefontaine, Shona Rae and Simon Wroot.

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Alberta Craft Blog


2018 Robert Jekyll Award Recipients - Congratulations to Tom McFall! 

The Canadian Crafts Federation / Fédération canadienne des métiers d’art is pleased to announce two recipients for this year’s Robert Jekyll Award for Leadership in Craft.  The 2018 award recipients have each spent long careers supporting craft and its makers across the country. Both also played integral roles in forming and developing the CCF into the influential and vibrant organisation that it has become.

Tom McFall and Anne Manuel have both recently retired from long years of service as Executive Directors of provincial craft organisations.  The CCF is delighted to take the opportunity this year to acknowledge and celebrate their stellar contributions to the national craft community.

Tom McFall spent 19 years as the executive director and curator of the Alberta Craft Council, now recognized nationally for having an extensive exhibition program, running innovative marketing projects, initiating and leading national events, and enjoying a high level of member satisfaction.

“Tom was always at the forefront of fine craft on the provincial, national and international stages” says Tara Owen, Chair of the Board, Alberta Craft Council  “The more that I came to know Tom, the more I valued the insight and leadership that he provided to everyone within the craft sector…The craft sector of Canada has benefitted immensely from Tom’s work.”

Tom has already been recognized with many awards, including an Alberta Centennial Medal, the prestigious Rozsa Award for Excellence in Arts Management, a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and the Syncrude Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Arts Management.  The CCF is pleased to add the Robert Jekyll Award for Leadership in Craft to Tom’s extensive list of accolades.

Anne Manuel has been the backbone of the craft community in Newfoundland and Labrador for many decades.  She held the helm of the Craft Council of Newfoundland & Labrador for 33 years of its 47-year history, building and developing a sector in the province while leading the Council through many challenges and changes.

“Anne’s contribution over the years has been vast, varied and instrumental in creating one of the strongest craft communities and industries in Canada.” says Rowena House, Executive Director, Craft Council of Newfoundland & Labrador “The range of her involvement spanned from writing a simple letter to a rural craftsperson with some information relevant to their work, to taking an active role with the Canadian Craft Federation.”

Anne has been instrumental in organising international events including a very successful international Fibre Conference in Newfoundland in 2015, which brought 150 participants from around the world to Gros Morne National Park.

The Robert Jekyll Award for Leadership in Craft celebrates distinguished contributors to the craft sector, and is one of the highest markers of exceptional commitment to the development of the craft community in Canada. Tom McFall and Anne Manuel certainly fit the bill.  

The 2018 awards will be presented on October 12th, 2018 in Halifax, NS, during the Canadian Crafts Federation’s annual conference “Placemaking.”  Join us for the conference, and to celebrate the excellent work of these key figures in Canadian craft.

Original article by the Canadian Crafts Federation / Fédération canadienne des métiers d’art. Link here.


Charles Lewton-Brain: Artist, Goldsmith, Educator, Problem Solver … alchemist 

Charles Lewton-Brain: Artist, Goldsmith, Educator, Problem Solver … alchemist[1]

Written by Jennifer E. Salahub Professor, School Critical and Creative Studies, ACAD & ACC Board Member

Photo by Dwayne Norman

Quiet this metal!
Let the manes put off their terror, let
them put off their aqueous bodies with fire.
Let them assume the milk-white bodies of agate.
Let them draw together the bones of the metal. 

Ezra Pound “The Alchemist:  Chant for the Transmutation of Metal” (1912)

Caveat:  In writing this essay, I simply refuse to use the term retire – for we all know that artists like Charles Lewton-Brain are much too engaged to even consider such an abstract concept.  However, he is “stepping away” from the Alberta College of Art and Design, and given that so many of our makers were taught or mentored by Charles since his arrival in 1985, I am taking this opportunity to consider how his presence has helped shape our identity as an engaged craft community.   

Charles Lewton-Brain has been described as an internationally renowned artist, goldsmith, educator, author, and tireless innovator.  Alongside an active studio practice and full teaching load, he has lectured and taught workshops internationally, created his own publishing company (1994), and co-founded the world’s largest educational internet site for the jewelry, gemology and the metals field – (1995).  His craftsmanship has been recognized by his peers – an elected member of the Royal Canadian Academy, a distinguished Fellow of the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG), a Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain.  In 2005 he received the Alberta Craft Council’s Honour Award and in 2012 we all celebrated when he was awarded the prestigious Saidye Bronfman Award for fine crafts (Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts) which spoke to his studio practice (from performance-oriented body art to fine jewellery), his role as an educator (ACAD and worldwide), and his staunch belief in Canadian craft (his work with the Canadian Crafts Federation and the Alberta Craft Council (five years as Board Director).[2]  

Charles’s work ethic is a daunting model for students – and colleagues for that matter – it was developed in Pforzheim Germany where he trained to be a master goldsmith with Klaus Ullrich, himself a celebrated designer, master goldsmith, and master silversmith. Not surprisingly, what motivated him as a student continues to inform his practice and motivates his students.  In his words,

What Ullrich and his contemporaries did was say that an accidental effect could be controlled and in fact utilized in a design and compositional element. This was against all the traditions in the field in Europe and was possibly a reflection of Pollock and other painters who chose the marks of process as compositional elements. (…)  This approach was a revelation for me; to listen to the material; to use the marks of working the material as conscious choices in design; to let nature show in the work.[3] 

Charles is an inspiring maker and teacher, his students have gone on to be recognized nationally and internationally as makers, as educators, as innovators, and as creative thinkers.  A former undergraduate called him the “absolute Guru of metalsmithing” while another declared, “I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who knows so much about anything/everything.”  He has served not only as a teacher but as a mentor for many ACC members, from makers like the Chairman of the ACC Board, Tara Owen to myself – a craft historian.  Charles is a passionate advocate for craft in Alberta and Canada – and his passion, contagious.

He is indeed a multifaceted individual –  a creator, a performer, a problem solver, and arguably an alchemist.  Anyone who has watched Charles fold forming – the innovative process he introduced to the world – will attest to the latter identity.  For there is no doubt when he sets to work that he has mastered alchemy as described in “The Alchemist:  Chant for the Transmutation of Metal” by Ezra Pound or defined by the OED as the “seemingly magical power of transmutation or extraction.”   On fold forming, Alan Revere, the American goldsmith confirms that, “As amazing as it may seem, nobody ever worked with metal this way in the more-than-10,000-year history of the craft.”  Revere explains the magnitude of the process as,

[A] series of techniques that allow rapid development of three- dimensional surfaces and structures. The dynamic and fascinating shapes created through this system are unachievable by any other method. The technique can be used to create complex high-relief forms and to resemble chased, constructed and soldered forms. All are produced from single sheets of almost any metal in a matter of minutes.[4]

In 2012, Robert Sirman, then director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts suggested that, “Artists are alchemists and [these] laureates are masters at transforming everyday experience into gold.”  Just consider the implications, both figurative and literal, when one of those laureates was Charles!  

In his renowned Cage series, Charles Lewton-Brain (goldsmith and conceptual artist) sets out to question the genre.  What is jewellery?  From the concept to the finished product he relies on his skills as a craftsman and an innovator.  Each work begins as a meticulously constructed framework of welded/fused stainless steel wire that is then electroformed, literally grown in a copper-acid bath, and finally dressed in heavy gold electroplating.  Alchemy indeed.  The irregularly shaped gold cages vary in size and scope.  For his larger performative works it is the body of the wearer that is confined yet on display.  And, while these cages might frame an ear or even a neck, one hesitates to label them earrings or necklaces.  At the same time, in the more traditionally scaled works (necklaces, bracelets, brooches, rings) Lewton-Brain continues to challenge expectations; for instance, here we see him redefining the meaning of precious. The treasured stones that are being held captive in these gold cages are not what one expects to find in fine jewellery – for these are raw rubies, polished river rocks, and even frosted sea glass.   

Charles Lewton-Brain may be stepping away from ACAD, but he is neither leaving his studio nor the craft community. In fact, he will have more time to focus on what he loves.  The ACC Board of Directors want to thank Charles for all that he has done to promote fine craft, from serving on boards, organising symposia, speaking for us nationally and internationally, and finally I, as a craft historian want to thank him for his ability to recognize the importance of documentation – for without a history we are unable to move forward.  At the same time, we all look forward to seeing how Charles will transform his new everyday experiences into gold!

[1] An earlier form of this essay was published in the ACADFA Journal.  Spring 2018

[2] Should you be curious about these or his other achievements you might want to check out

[3] Charles Lewton Brain. The Origins of Fold Forming. Brain Press, 2008

[4] Alan Revere, Professional Jeweler Magazine, June 1998


Pamma FitzGerald - #Aguest 

An initiative by the Canadian Crafts Federation, the #Aguest series aims to present different types of creators talking about advice, current projects, inspiration, the role of craft artists in society and more!

Read about Pamma FitzGerald's work, creative process, and wild tales here. 



The Non-Toxic Way to Clean Your Silver Jewellery

Many factors affect how fast your silver jewellery will tarnish, and unless you're wearing argentium silver (this should be another blog post), chances are you have beautiful pieces of jewellery seating in a drawer waiting to see shinier days. Today though, Melanie (our awesome Gallery Assistant in Calgary) is sharing a very effective, non-toxic way to get through this task. 

The best part about this method? You can do it right at home with very (very!) simple ingredients.

This method is specially great for: medium-heavy tarnish or items that can’t be cleaned with a polishing cloth ie. chains, heavily textured/intricate pieces, etc. This method will also save your life if you have lots of items to clean at once - So, let's begin! 

*** Important note: Do not use for pearls, opals or other porous stones. 

What you'll need:
         -Heat proof bowl (pyrex is a always a good choice)
         -Sheet of aluminum foil doubled over
         -Baking powder or salt
         -A spoon for stirring

1.    Start by boiling the water. You'll need to wait 5 minutes after it boils. 
2.    While you wait for the water to boil, line the bowl with the foil -remember to have a double layer. 
2.    Add 1 - 2 tablespoons of baking soda or salt.
3.    Add water, enough to fill the bowl. Stir to dissolve.
4.    Add jewellery - let it soak for 10 to 15 min.
 ***The science behind it: Aluminum has a stronger attraction to silver sulfide (tarnish) than silver itself. When aluminum is placed in an electrolyte solution and it comes into contact with the silver, a small electric current is produced, transferring the sulfur atoms (the tarnish) from the silver to the aluminum, leaving your silver sparkling clean! 

5.     Check your jewellery.  Is it still tarnished? Leave soaking for another 5 min.
        If tarnish remains, repeat process with fresh solution.
6.     Remove pieces. Rinse well under running water.
7.     Dry thoroughly with a soft, lint-free cloth.
8.     The best step - Wear and enjoy your tarnish free, good-as-new silver jewellery!

Melanie Archer is our Gallery Assistant at the Alberta Craft Gallery - Calgary. She is also a goldsmith and designer. She graduated with distinction from the Alberta College of Art + Design in 2015 and she currently shares her passion for fine craft with the Alberta Craft Gallery while continuing to work at ACC Professional Member Shona Rae’s Blackboard Gallery.

Jewellery: Milt Fischbein (Calgary, AB) and Soma Mo (Edmonton, AB) Photos: Corinne Cowell. 


First Edition of Gifted

Gifted is an annual collection of Edmonton Made products that makes it easy to shop local, whether you are an Edmonton resident, visitor, or business. ACC Members featured include Matt Heide (Concrete Cat) and Terry Hildebrand. Alberta Craft Gallery - Edmonton is a featured retailer.

Find out more here.


Tyler Rock Participating in Hot Matter Exhibition

Exhibition Dates: September 28 - November 25, 2017
Location: La Guilde, Montreal, QC

HOT MATTER | MATIÈRE INCANDESCENTE is a collective exhibition highlighting the work of contemporary Canadian glass artists. Above and beyond each artist’s exceptional skill and creative process, this more than necessary exhibition will underline the artists’ work which goes far beyond the usual functionality of the object. Exhibition includes work by ACC Professional Member Tyler Rock.

Find out more here.


Christine Pedersen Featured in Narrative Jewelry Tales From The Toolbox

ACC professional member Christine Pedersen has one of her ReFind jewellery collection pieces featured in the book: Pull necklace is made from the plastic seals, or pulls, found inside soy milk and juice cartons. Components were cast in bronze and linked together.

Narrative Jewelry Tales From The Toolbox
will be released on October 28, 2017.

Find out more here.