American Craft Exposition comes to Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe

Nearly 100 artisans will showcase their creations at the highly competitive 38th Annual American Craft Exposition Sept. 30-Oct. 10. 2 at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe.

Opening hours are Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; and 10am-5pm Sunday. There will also be a benefit preview party on September 29th from 6pm to 9pm which will include hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and an opportunity to preview the work and speak with the artists.

Artists will be selected by “an equal panel of fellow craftspeople and two exhibition curators,” said Leslie Sevcik of Evanston, co-chair with Gayle Stellas and organizer of the American Craft Exposition.

She noted that this year’s diverse selection of artworks includes fine and contemporary jewellery, fiber wearables, fiber decorative items, baskets, ceramics and wooden furniture, as well as items made from glass, paper, metal and mixed media.

“I am very proud that we have two new artists with physical disabilities. We look forward to welcoming them,” said Sevcik. “Plus we have a really fun mix of returning favorites and exciting new people.”

Evanston-based jewelry designer Jonathan Rutledge has attended the show every year since 2004 with one exception. “It’s one of the top shows in the country,” observed Rutledge. “Only one or two more have this caliber of artists. Something that sets it apart from other shows is that there’s a thing behind it.”

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Rutledge generally works with 22k gold, although he sometimes uses 18k gold to create his signature jewelry.

“What makes my jewelry unique is the attention to detail I put into it,” said Rutledge. “With that detail comes a lot of time that I put into each piece. All designs and patterns are made from tiny grains of gold. They are applied individually. The Etruscans were masters of granulation. The ancient Greeks used it and the Tunisians used it.”

Rutledge will bring earrings, bracelets, necklaces and cufflinks to the show. Its pieces start at $1,500.

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Chicago metal artist Darlys Ewoldt has participated in the American Craft Exposition several times. “I like that it raises money for a good cause,” she says. “The quality of work on the show is exceptional and the audience that comes to the show knows exactly what they are seeing. The committee is doing a great job organizing it.”

Ewoldt started metalsmithing when she was in college. “We had a tour of all the different art studios and there was one with jewelry and metalsmiths that I never knew existed,” Ewoldt said. “I liked the process of working with metal.”

Although the artist works with hard materials, her pieces appear rather delicate. “I use a lot of chemical patinas to color my work,” she explained.

Ewoldt noted that her plays are very labor intensive. “I don’t do it as a production process,” she said. “I do the work because it makes me happy and thrives in life.”

She will bring murals and sculptural vessels to the exhibition. Their work ranges from $100 to $6,000.

Morton Grove jewelry artist Aaron Macsai has been a part of the show for 30 years. “There’s no show like it in the Midwest,” he explained. “My goal is to get on the show every year. It’s a great honor. It’s the only show where all the money they raise goes towards medical research.”

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Macsai started making jewelry when he was in high school. He then earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Metalsmithing from Southern Illinois University.

“I work with different colors of gold and gemstones,” Macsai said. “A lot of the work that people will see is tIny 18k gold beads I have been working on for years. I combine them with different gemstones and diamonds. Since the pandemic, I’ve got a whole bunch of new work – bracelets, earrings, necklaces.”

His pieces cost between $300 and $4,200.

There will be a preview benefit party on September 29 at 6:00 p.m. Tickets cost $200.

The annual event is produced by the Auxiliary of NorthShore University HealthSystem. This year’s fundraiser will benefit SAVE MOMS, a NorthShore program dedicated to maintaining maternal health before, during and after childbirth.

American Craft Show

When: 30 Sept-Oct 2

Where: Chicago Botanical Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe

Tickets: $32 for adults; free for children under 12 years; Parking is $8


Myrna Petlicki is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.

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