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Marblehead —

Even after 90 years, there’s a first time for everything. Marblehead Arts Association (MAA) falls into this category as it readies for its first exhibit entirely of craft. The “Fine Art of Craft,” a juried exhibit, will open March 16 to display a world of wonderful designs. An opening reception is scheduled for Sunday, March 17, 2-4 p.m. The exhibit runs through April 16.

Contemporary craft can be “challenging, beautiful, sometimes useful, tactile, artistic and extraordinary,” as described in the MAA press release, “and to understand and enjoy the care which has gone into their making” is to appreciate these forms of art.

The various types of crafts in the exhibit vary from woodwork to quilts to pottery to jewelry and glass, and pretty much the gamut of anything handcrafted.

The criterion behind the submitted works on display is that they must be original, available for sale, and not previously exhibited in an MAA show. Ceramic artist Kirsten Bassion and artist/actor Ursina Amsler served as judges for the juried exhibit.

“Craft has become such a thing,” says Joyce Mayer Clark of Marblehead. “It’s always been around, but today it’s become very popular.”

Clark is one of the exhibiting artists whose work may be found in the Artisan’s Shop inside the MAA. She feels this is a good time to exhibit craft items because people are looking for something new at the monthly exhibits. Plus, she says, you can purchase artisanal art for little money.

Beginning her career as a graphic designer, Clark’s segue into jewelry making evolved over time. Over the years, she painted furniture, took up knitting, made clothing and learned the art of bookbinding. In between, she parented twins Lily and Aubrey, now 15 years old. Lily is following in her mother’s artful footsteps and is involved in the Marblehead High School arts studio.

From knitting, Clark says, “one thing led to another, and I combined a number of skills into jewelry design.”

Her jewelry designs are actually needlework, a time-consuming process using seed beads to create cuffs and fairly high-end designs. Big statement custom cuffs run in price from $250 to $400 for work that takes Clark 15 to 30 hours to finish. She incorporates an off-loom peyote stitch, basic to Indian jewelry, embroidered with a needle and thread on a backing. She sells her bead weaving pieces where she works — in the Artisan Shop at the MAA. You can also find her work at the Marblehead Festival of Arts in the artisan’s area to the left of Abbot Hall, and possibly at Marblehead Farmers Market this summer. In April, she’ll join forces with Dawn LiVigne, Sonja Grondstra and Sandra Golbert to present a trunk show at the MAA.

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