Florida Crafts – Up Close and Personal

Metal artist Eric Folsom
photo Florida CraftArt
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Story and Photos by Emily Lee Stehle
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Artists’ Workbench Demonstrations
Show Art from Start to Finish

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Through October 15
Florida CraftArt
Details here

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Now’s a good time to take away the summer doldrums by getting out and enjoying fine craft in air-conditioned comfort at the Florida CraftArt Gallery in downtown St. Petersburg.

FCA’s newest exhibit was announced in early July and opened in mid-August. Somehow, I missed the press release, went out of town and, sorry to say, missed out on the opening and several scheduled artists’ demonstrations. I hope that you’ll take some time over the next month to visit and talk to FCA artists, watch their work process in their “temporary workbench/studio” set up in the Gallery, and peruse completed work on display for sale. It’s a twist on the typical outdoor craft shows where artists demonstrate aspects of their craft practice onsite.

Sixteen Tampa Bay area artists were/are scheduled for demonstrations, 11 am-4 pm on specific days through October 15. You can find the schedule here.

Fiber Artist Elizabeth Neily and Gallery visitor Kathy Rex

The exhibit was conceived by longtime FCA member and collector Perry Everett, says Katie Deits, Florida CraftArt executive director. “Education is part of our mission, and there is no better way to learn about fine craft than by watching an artist at work.”

Artists were selected to exemplify every medium of fine craft carried in the gallery, according to Manager Julia Collver. “The artists get to teach their craft and share their passion in a professional and relatable way. The audience can ask questions while having a firsthand experience learning about the work it takes to complete a work of art.”

Elizabeth Neily weaving home-spun yarn on a 15-inch wide rigid heddle loom.

I did get a chance to chat with Fiber Artist Elizabeth Neily of Gulfport during one of her early demonstration days. She was weaving her handspun yarn on a portable floor rigid heddle loom. The loom itself is narrow, only about 15 inches wide, which means the finished woven piece would only be about 14 inches wide, suitable for a scarf or shawl.

Elizabeth, however, found a way around that.

Elizabeth Neily’s, In the Heat of the Night

Her wall hanging on display in the Gallery, In the Heat of the Night, woven out of hand-spun wool, Angelina (a heat bondable iridescent fiber) and glass beads is actually constructed from two scarves. A fortuitous marriage of two works, so to speak. Someone purchased In the Heat of the Night, then someone ordered a commission.
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Upcoming Artist Demonstrations
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Through September 10, 11 am-4 pm
Joyce Curvin, Sculpture

Joyce Curvin – photo courtesy Florida CraftArt

Joyce was born and raised in St. Petersburg in a family that encourages recycling, creativity and nature, so it’s no wonder that “reuse-recycle-upcycle” is her work ethic.

Joyce Curvin, Lucky Takes a Leap
Joyce Curvin, The Birder

She learned to sew, build and invent with all sorts of tools and materials. They had a lot of animals. She finally settled on papier-mâché and creates a wonderful family of humans, dogs, cats, rabbits, birds and other animals that live in a fantastical, happy and humorous world. She resides in Palm Harbor.

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September 13-17, 11 am-4 pm
Shelly Reale, Ceramic Sculpture

Shelly Reale in studio – photo courtesy Florida CraftArt

A contemporary sculptor and photojournalist, Shelly’s path to art is not typical. Her passion in examining ideas and life led her to a degree in Philosophy from the University of South Florida.

Shelly Reale, Bad Hare Day

She hopes her sculptures, photography and writings encourage viewers and readers to examine the world in a different way. . . and can serve as an impetus for change.

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September 20-21 from 11 am-4 pm
Richard Avery, Ceramics on Wheel

Richard Avery at wheel – photo courtesy Florida CraftArt

Originally from West Babylon NY, Richard moved to St. Petersburg a few years ago, moving his pottery production studio with him. A functional potter, Richard loves the idea of making something homemade that becomes a part of someone’s everyday life.

Richard Avery, Coffee Mugs – photo courtesy Florida CraftArt
Richard Avery, Shine Bowl, wax resist – photo courtesy Florida CraftArt

The clay body he uses primarily fires at mid-range, but he also enjoys the processes of raku, soda firing and gas reduction firing. He is a 2017 Florida CraftArt Emerging Artist and was a featured artist for several years by Trinity Spotlight on the Arts in Atlanta.

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September 22 from 11 am-4 pm
Sue Shapiro, Ceramics, Handbuilt

Sue Shapiro – photo courtesy Florida CraftArt

Sue received a Bachelor’s of Fine Art degree from Massachusetts College of Art and after college apprenticed with Master Potters Michael Cohen and Harriet Goodwin. In 1981, she was awarded an Apprentice Fellowship in Crafts Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

A year later, Sue opened SMS Pottery in St. Petersburg. She is represented by American Craft Galleries throughout the United States and currently shows her clay work at SHAPIRO’S Gallery, her family-owned business in downtown St. Petersburg.

Sue Shapiro, Triangulated Vase

She works with a mid-range red stoneware clay with most of her work handbuilt from slabs of clay or extruded forms. Early inspirations that influence her work are tile work and carvings from ancient cultures, the geometric patterns found in Native American art, stylized art deco designs, mid-century modern designs and contemporary architecture.


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September 23 from 11 am-4 pm
Tyler Jones, Ceramics on Wheel

Tyler Jones throwing pottery – photo courtesy Florida CraftArt

Tyler is a proud sixth-generation Floridian raised in St. Petersburg. With a degree in theater and fine arts from the University of Central Florida, Tyler’s professional background includes creative endeavors as a clay artist, teacher, business development for a renewable energy company and a over a decade as a professional global real estate advisor.

While in college, he took a pottery class. He never let go of his passion for mud. Tyler has served as Program Manager for Creative Clay, Director of Sales and Marketing, and also worked in education at the Morean Arts Center. He has taught children’s art camp, workshops and adult classes at the Morean.

Tyler Jones, PRIDE heART Stacking Bowls

As founder of heARTworks Pottery, Tyler shares his love of art by giving back a portion of every sale to Florida CraftArt. He enjoys creating functional, everyday art because it can be used and appreciated daily.


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September 24 from 11 am-4 pm
Kimberli Cummings, Ceramics

Kimberli Cummings at wheel – photo courtesy Florida CraftArt

Kimberli’s love for pottery began in 1991 at Tampa’s Clay Factory. Every day on her drive home, its sign beckoned – “You know you’ve always wanted this!” Kimberli studied with many local and internationally recognized potters including Robert Pipenberg, Paul Soldner, Peter Voulkos, Scott L. Aubrey and Rudy Autio.

Kimberli Cummings, Food Tower, Tell Me about Birds and Bees

Her Tango Dancer ceramic series was featured on HGTV’s That’s Clever and her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg and the Tampa Museum of Art.

Kimberli Cummings, Find the Queen Plate

Kimberli is a founding member of the Tampa Tour de Clay, a board member of Florida CraftArt, and has served as a three-term past president of Las Damas de Arte, raising money and awareness for emerging artists in Hillsborough County. She is a member of the artist collective Creatives Exchange and resides in Tampa.

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September 27-30 from 11 am-4 pm
Michael Baker, Glass

Michael Baker, stained glass artist – photo courtesy Florida CraftArt

Michael specializes in stained glass and mosaic art, taking inspiration from European cathedrals and castles. He produces stained glass panels in a wide variety of styles and also fashions kiln-formed glass objects d’art.

Michael Baker, Hollyoak Sunrise – photo courtesy Florida CraftArt

His artform is spiritual. “Light shining through colored pieces of glass is like God’s light shining through us,” he says.

Michael Baker, Jungle Geranium – photo courtesy Florida CraftArt

Michael’s use of the Tiffany method allows for intricate glass forms to be incorporated into equally intricate designs. His eye-catching artwork has graced church windows, art galleries, public institutions and private homes. He lives in St. Petersburg.

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October 1 from 11 am-4 pm
Matthew Szidik, Glass

Matthew Szidik – photo courtesy Florida CraftArt

Matthew grew up in Marion IL, surrounded by nature in the Shawnee National Forest. He spent many years exploring the forest and cultivating a curiosity for natural beauty. After graduating high school in 2015, Matthew attended Oglethorpe University, John A. Logan and Southern Illinois University where he studied glassblowing under Nadine Saylor and Jiyoung Lee.

Matthew Szidik, Dragonfly
Matthew Szidik, Dreamscape 3 – photo courtesy Florida CraftArt

Graduating with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree, Matthew moved to St. Petersburg in 2020 to participate in its ever-growing glass community.



October 4-8 from 11 am-4 pm
Laurie Landry, Mosaic

Laurie Landry – photo courtesy Florida CraftArt

A mosaic artist from Minneapolis, Laurie decided that she would be an artist at the young age of four! She attended the Commercial Art program at Hennepin Technical College, worked summers designing and painting signs and, after graduation, worked as an illustrator and then art director at an advertising agency.

But then in 1999, an evening clay class piqued her interested in hand-carved sgraffito. For 20 years she showed her work in the midwest. In 2011, she and her husband moved to Florida. Her ceramic work has been featured in Clay AKAR Yunomi Invitational, Florida CraftArt Gallery, Michael Kohler Gallery, Temple Beth-El and Tour de Clay. She was also a founding member of the Lake Minnetonka Art Tour.

Laurie Landry, Clockwise, Rabbit and Rainbow Carrot Mosaic, Surfboard,
Pink Tea and Pup Mosaic, Pig Corn Barn Mosaic

In 2018 – on a fluke – she made a tile mosaic surfboard shower backer for her community condo pool area. Soon after, she was commissioned to make another. . . her mosaics took off from there. Laurie resides in St. Petersburg.



October 11-15 from 11 am-4 pm
Eric Folsom, Metal

Eric Folsom – photo courtesy Florida CraftArt

Eric left his home in Gulfport in 1973 to undertake an artistic self-education by moving to Washington DC. There, he worked as a bicycle courier and when not working, spent time studying art in museums, galleries and libraries.

Eric Folsom, Anhinga on River
Eric Folsom, Fish Spatula and Hinged Oval Box

He began a metal apprenticeship in Sperryville VA with artist George Anderson in 1977. He learned metal skills – the use of torches, pliers, cutters, grinders and shaping tools to fabricate art from bronze and copper. Eric began exhibiting at art and craft shows in 1979, returned to Pinellas County in 1995 and works from his studio in Gulfport. He recycles bicycle parts to make gates and other sculptural objects using the same techniques he employs in his jewelry. Eric has been exhibiting with Florida CraftArt since 2006.


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You can find the schedule
of upcoming demonstrations here
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A Meet-the-Artists and closing reception
is at 4 pm on Saturday, October 15

Florida CraftArt
501 Central Ave.
St. Petersburg FL 33701
Gallery Hours are 10 am-5:30 pm Monday-Saturday
and noon-5 pm on Sunday.

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