Smithsonian Craft Show Announces 100 Artists Selected for Craft Optimism

By Editorial Team on March 22, 2021

Craft Optimism is a curated online marketplace featuring beautifully made, handcrafted American goods that educate the public about climate change or inspire or model a sustainable response to climate change. The Smithsonian Women’s Committee has announced the 100 participating artists selected for Craft Optimism.

Bench by Colin Selig.

Colin Selig
Colin Selig creates eco-friendly outdoor seating and biomorphic sculpture repurposed from scrap steel propane tanks. Colin’s patented process has a minimal carbon footprint and produces durable objects that contain 99% post-consumer reused content. He hopes his works will inspire others to consider new possibilities for reusing materials.

Kathleen Tesnakis / ekologic
Kathleen Tesnakis saves terrain from over grazing by recycling cashmere, conserves water by using post-consumer materials (eliminating the scouring, washing and dye process), and reduces emissions by recycling and ending dependence on new materials. Ekologic recycling design studio creates brand new sustainable fashion for men and women.

Leila Cartier
Originally rom Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains – once considered the heart of the coal industry and isolated by vast expanses of nature, Leila Cartier’s current collage work is constructed using hand-cut images of jewelry found in magazines and adhered to paper made from stone. The result suggests a disparity between the expectation of permanence and value versus fragility and worthlessness. Recent press

Nisha Blackwell / Knotzland
Nisha Blackwell designs and produces bowties using reclaimed materials. To date, Knotzland has diverted 3,427 pounds of fabric and offset 11,994 pounds of CO2 from landfills. Knotzland trains and pays women with barriers to traditional employment to sew products that lead to conversations on sustainability and the effects of traditional manufacturing on our planet and on climate change. Recent Press

Carlos Montanaro
Carlo’s jewelry utilizes found objects and fabrication to show that sustainability is as much about recycling as it is about innovation. Marrying the two, he creates narrative jewelry with new applications of old material and shows the value of something pre-existing and how it can be transformed into something modern and new.

Fabric remnants from fashion industry that would have been discarded is expertly pieced together to create home goods.

Bicycle Glass
100% post-consumer recycled glass lighting fixtures! From packaging to product, Bicycle Glass makes artisan glasswork with minimal environmental impact.

Christina Roselle
Handbags made from recycled interior designer fabrics and leather samples that would otherwise be discarded.

Kristin DeSantis Contemporary Jewelry
Most people ask “What is it made of? It’s so light!” The material is old aluminum tubes collected from scrap and surplus yards. Kristin saws the shapes to size, fills them with hand-pigmented resins, and creates colorful shapes and a new life for the discarded aluminum.

Jenae Michelle
Jenae Michelle uses nearly 100% post-consumer recycled materials, which usually include women’s wool coats from the 50’s and recycled tablecloths or drapery from the same era. Each bag is one of a kind, a retreat from the chaos of modern life.

Lilian Asterfield by Nicole Deponte
Nicole Deponte creates wearable sculptural accessories with vintage necktie fabrics. Upcycling transforms one product into another, elevating its purpose to create something new. This process continues her participation in and support of a circular economy.

Francesca Vitali
All my work is made using repurposed paper. One of the major ideas behind my work is indeed to give a second life to a humble material such as paper and to carry on its history through modifying and transforming the paper into a wearable object.

BeeZ by Scranton
Kathleen Scranton saves books from becoming landfill by creating book purses, eReader and other accessories from the covers. She rebinds the original book pages as a paperback to be read again. Books are national treasures and vintage printing a work of art.

Kate Cusack Zipper Jewelry
Kate Cusack works with repurposed zippers. Her artwork encourages the wearer to see beauty and potential in the world around them. Using zippers discarded from the fashion industry, she gives life to innovative, elegant new jewelry that celebrates imagination and promotes recycling.

Heidi Paul
Reclaimed. Recycled. Redesigned. Heidi Paul finds beauty in making something new from something discarded. She hopes to encourage others to reduce and reuse.

Janice Kissinger
Repurposed sari silk textiles from India is joined with hand-dyed silks and wool fibers with traditional hand felting technique to create an elegant new garment.

Elisabethan by Elizabeth Delehaunty
Up-cycled post consumer and vintage fabrics given a new life without wasting water and other resources.

MPR Jewelry | Meghan Patrice Riley
Meghan sources from ballchain suppliers in NY and use upcycled parts from discarded jewelry manufacturing to create my woven textile chain pieces.

Mary Jaeger
Repurposing studio textile and garments transforms them into fresh and desirable new garments while reducing domestic and third-world landfills.

Lula Castillo
Lula creates a collection of accessories using sustainable materials, such as nuts, rare beans and some other seeds collected in the Amazon rainforest.