Piedmont Craftsmen celebrates its 60th annual fair this weekend in Winston-Salem. Nearly 100 artists will showcase their work in a multitude of mediums including clay, fiber, glass and mixed media. President and CEO Jane Doub recently spoke with WFDD’s David Ford, and shared a look back at the fair and a sneak peek at what lies ahead this weekend.
On Piedmont Craftsmen Fair’s earliest beginnings in a former Krispy Kreme location in Old Salem:
"There was nobody in that building. Somebody who was working with a group knew the owners and somehow got us into the building. I think everyone was so hungry to have access to crafts, that it was a big success that first year. They had thousands of people who came to shop — just a handful of artists, and a handful meaning maybe 20. And they were there I believe for three days. And because of the success of that first show, that's when they said we've got to continue this ... I mean, who would think an organization that started around the kitchen table would still be around now at 60 years. You know, I think for that first group of artists I mean, it was pretty makeshift from what I can remember, you know, lots of little tables covered with white tablecloth. The thing I find interesting about the early photographs is how they were all in suits. All the men were in suits and looking very dapper. And the women of course had on dresses. And they were looking so different than the artists that you think about from the 60s. They were very professional-looking. It was almost on that level where you go, wait, are they artists or are they businesspeople?"
On community support:
"It does take a lot from the community level. We actually started as a very small little group of artists and also of art lovers. That was the main thing. It was the supporters who really wanted to have a craft fair in the area. And that little group, I mean, it was a small group — started out maybe 10 people — and it grew to 20 within the first year. And so that has always been the two pillars of our organization. It has always taken the artists to make the most amazing, wonderful pieces. But it's got to have the supporters who are also going to be there to be your champions, and to keep the organization going in so many other ways. The creative side, we've got, you know, with the artists, not a problem. It's the business side, and that's where it comes in very handy to have that community level of support."
On the growth of Piedmont Craftsmen:
"We have almost 300 artists from across the United States. A number of years ago, we decided — you know, we were southeastern — and we decided that our artists were moving ... some of them were going back to school, some were taking jobs at other places to teach. And so we were like, ‘We don't want to lose these talented individuals.’ So, the organization became a national group. We now have artists all over the country."
On Piedmont Craftsmen Fair 2023:
"Since it's our 60th, of course, we want to make it like a party. And so everything is going to look refreshed I think as far as the show goes. We have I believe 90 artists that are coming this year. And the range of crafts is everything from amazing, hand-blown Christmas ornaments, coffee mugs, beautiful handwoven clothing. I mean, we have a number of woodworkers coming this year, many of them doing furniture…amazing handmade furniture, one-of-a-kind type pieces — to me, it's mind blowing, I guess, because I don't do woodworking. ... And the variety of jewelry is incredible. Everything from very funky and unique to amazing high-end stones, as well as gold pieces. ... One of the biggest categories...is mixed media."
In addition to art shopping, visitors can enjoy a number of artisan demonstrations that will be going on throughout the two-day event. Piedmont Craftsmen’s 60th Anniversary Fair begins Saturday at the Benton Convention Center in downtown Winston-Salem.