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The Craft in America Collection, Episodes 1-3
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
What an exceptional series! My daughter, who teaches art, encouraged us to purchase this series of programs because she was deeply inspired by watching one of the programs, so we gave it a try. Wow! What an adventure, visiting amazing, inspiring people from all across the country, and feasting on the rich diversity of gorgeous, works of crafted art! You meet delightful, funny, earthy, courageous people of many different "types" who share their lives and works. You see them doing their work, gathering in communities, struggling to find their way through life... and bearing the mosts beautiful, diverse works! The quality of the creations makes it harder to discern art from craft. But the best part is just delighting in story after story of amazing people, the moving accounts of their life journeys, to communities that sustain them, and their awesome works of art! Another delight is the photography of the people and the environments from which their works arise. The filming and editing are exceptionally beautiful and often powerful!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2013
As a crafts person , I find this series quite uplifting and also rather honest.
Staying true to one's inspiration and passion can be challenging in a world which seems to obsess on efficiency and automation - not to mention a far cheaper labor pool overseas. To me, viewing this series can feel like a reassuring hug when those pressures make you question the very fire that feeds your soul.
It helps to answer the question:
Craft In America - Why do we do this?
We do this because it is important.
These are the very things that make us who we are. The titles of each segment explain it well; It is what connects us to our history, family, our community. It is communication and contemplation. Collectively, it is a distillation of the American spirit. The interviews are a glimpse into the diverse personalities and motivations that bring us back to who we are..
and - bonus! - it is a frequently entertaining, thought provoking, and often inspiring slice of life we are invited to share.

FYI - The DVD set "The Craft In America Collection" includes the following episodes:
Memory
Landscape
Community
Origins
Process
Messages
Family

The two episodes
Threads
and
Crossroads
are currently not in this set and are sold individually.

Enjoy!!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2008
This series came as a wonderful surprise; I had never heard of it and had low expectations. But the consistent high quality of the interviews and the visuals, and the enormous diversity of the featured artists, makes it a stand-out in the art documentary genre. It emphasizes each artist's sense of place, as well as illustrating the way creative traditions are fused with culture and passed down over generations. A must-see for anyone interested in the creative process.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2008
This 3 hour dvd is a wonderful glimpse into skilled artisan/craftspeople that shows their studios, their inspirations, motivations, and technique. Not a "how to" at all, but a "why and how and who". HIGHLY recommend!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 5, 2008
I love this video. I have seen the series on PBS and I have watched the DVD. I continue to draw inspiration from the artists and the rich history of craft in America.

If your creative batteries are running low or if you want to see examples of how people live/think differently through their art, you should watch this DVD.

There are so many talented, dedicated artists in this series, and I love how idiosyncratic and unconventional they are. They live outside the mainstream and yet their work is such a part of who were are as Americans. Potter David Gurney, Jewelry maker Kit Carson and so many others will leave you wanting more out of the way you live your life and interact with the world around you. They may inspire you to live more artfully.

I can't recommend this DVD highly enough.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2011
If you grew up watching the PBS children's program "Reading Rainbow", you may remember the occasional vignette showing brief glimpses into the working lives of people from different professions: railroad engineers, artists, scientists, authors, musicians, etc. These segments were so simple, yet extremely memorable. Levar Burton would take a break from narrating, and you would be left with just the person in their element, speaking to the viewer about their life. It was like getting to meet these people and accompanying them to their workplace for the day.

"Craft in America" feels like an extended, slightly more elaborate version of those "Reading Rainbow" vignettes, focusing on talented craftspeople throughout the United States. The bulk of the footage is simply these artists at work, set to a soundtrack of their own voices describing their history, process, motivations, inspiration, and the quirks of their craft. Again, very simple. But also refreshing in its simplicity in this age of glossy television, manipulated, teased, and edited beyond recognition for maximum drama and suspense.

In many ways, "Craft in America" feels oddly homey and familiar, almost predictable, down to a rendition of the Quaker song "Simple Gifts" in the title sequence. Yet its predictability is more an asset than liability. The filming feels free of gimmick and the interviews feel candid, honest, and low-key. There's no agenda here other than to document American craft. This transparent approach, which could have amounted to a middle-of-the-road insipidity, is saved by the thoughtful artists themselves, who come across as imaginative, dedicated, and quite grounded. Something about working with materials that come straight from the earth (clay, iron, plants), with inspiration drawn from their own personal histories and their own neighborhoods, seems to imbue these people with a humility and plainspoken wisdom.

They all make astute observations about American culture, how we relate to each other and to the objects we use or own, without sounding in any way pretentious or out-of-touch. As a viewer, I was left with a sense of appreciation for the little flourishes in everyday objects around me: a little angular handle on my coffee mug, the clean corners of my work desk, some unusual metal bookends I had lying around. Someone, somewhere, had put thought into the design of these objects. It made me notice and want more of these sorts of things: the work of human hands, so rare in these days of mass-manufactured everything.

Each episode (five in total, about an hour each) showcases three artists, allowing us ample time to get to know each in terms of personality, artistic sensibility, and history. Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I love PBS and this one is no exception. Thoughtful, thought provoking and beautifully filmed. It has it all. I loved seeing the diversity of work being produced and seeing the artists talk about how they see their own work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2013
this CD is totally different from the individual CD's by season. Still is good, but there are Crafts people missing from the original series. I would recommend that you buy each Season.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2011
If you are interested in American crafts this is a wonderful documentary of artists in America. An expansive review including all the handmade arts; wood turning, jewelry making, quilting, ceramics, glass, and many more. It is very moving to have the artists talk about the creative process. A wonderful gift for anyone that loves the arts or is creative.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2011
I teach art, and NEVER show "movies" in class. But after seeing this series on PBS, I have bought seasons 1 and 2, and always make time to show them in my Crafts class. The kids love the stories of each craftsperson, and the irreverant, fun-loving humor of the artists really speaks to the kids. Awesome series!
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