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Tuesday September 9, 2014

It began as a small, grassroots effort to enhance the knowledge and appreciation of handmade craft. Now, entering its fifth year, American Craft Week is a well-established, national event, celebrating the tradition of American craft in artists' studios, galleries, museums, schools, and festivals. This year's official celebration will be Oct. 3 - 12, during which hundreds of diverse events will occur throughout the country.

The state of Virginia has joined the movement in a big way, with more than 15 events already planned, and many more in the works. Representatives from the Artisans Center of Virginia, 'Round the Mountain, and the Virginia Tourism Corporation are working with the national ACW committee to make Virginia's premiere memorable.

"Crafts abound in Southwest Virginia during American Craft week!" says Diana Blackburn, executive director of `Round the Mountain: Southwest Virginia's Artisan Network. "From artisan demonstrations, craft sales, craft beer festivals, vineyard tours, wine tasting, cider making, to craft classes and festivals, there is a little something for everyone."

"October is a perfect time to visit Southwest Virginia," says Blackburn. "Handmade crafts will be for sale at local festivals and shops; the fall harvest will be ripe for picking (and tasting); and the changing leaves will add to the season's festive atmosphere."

"The culture of the Virginia artisans inspires appreciation for its unique works while expressing a distinctive way of life," says Sherri Smith, executive director of the Artisans Center of Virginia. "It invokes a natural order, firmly woven into the daily fabric of an artisan's life, embracing the familiar relationship between the acts of creating and living."

"Virginia artisans, our partnering affiliates and Artisan Trail Network communities all across the Commonwealth are planning activities that showcase the traditional practices and creative innovations which exemplify Virginia craft. Many private studios will be graciously opening their doors during American Craft Week, inviting visitors to personally experience the authentic relationship between "meaning" and "making" first-hand," says Smith.

"American Craft Week has caught the imagination of so many supporters," said Diane Sulg, founder and co-chair of the national initiative. "With the growing appreciation of both artisan products and American-made goods, craft is highly regarded for its strong design, quality materials, expert workmanship and enduring value." Since its inception in 2010, American Craft Week has grown from 240 to more than 1,000 participating events, all inviting the general public to enjoy a wide variety of educational, commercial, charitable and festive ways to celebrate craft.

NOT TOO LATE TO PARTICIPATE IN AMERICAN CRAFT WEEK

It's not too late to join Virginia's premiere of American Craft Week. "The very essence of our event is to bring together everyone who is involved in craft, whether they make, sell, exhibit, celebrate, collect, or just plain love craft, to help put it in the national spotlight," says Diane Sulg. "You can design your own craft-centered event and become part of this national movement."

Tags: Art, Artisan Trails