Finding Artisan Works in this Season of Urban Craft Shows

The aroma drifting through the afternoon air might be one of hot Philly cheesesteaks, or the sounds could be those from the boats arriving on the Chesapeake Bay in Baltimore. Artists will be converging on both cities in February for major shows featuring handcrafted décor. A little farther away, on a plane ride to the chilly Midwest, ceramic artists will descend on a third show in Minneapolis. Buckle up, here’s a preview of the roadtrip ahead.

In the midst of a flurry of chocolates and red wine, we’ll be exploring the tastes and talents of Philadelphia. For the first time, our travels will take us to the American Handcrafted show, touted as the largest handmade wholesale show in the U.S. It’s been recommended by artists we already collaborate with, and who will be exhibiting. This event includes juried American and Canadian artists, promoting more than 500 artists in attendance. As luck would have it, we had already booked a weekend in Philadelphia, that same show weekend, to enjoy Valentine’s in the shops and restaurants of Center City. The narrow streets and festive storefronts around City Hall offer a genuine creative vibe, not to mention their proximity to Reading Terminal (Hello! Breakfast pizza!). A lucky twist of fate for us to enjoy two adventures on the same weekend.

We’ve mentioned the American Craft Council show in Baltimore before, an annual event we regularly attend. This show is ever-expanding beyond ceramics and forged metal, with more than 550 artists showcased. We particularly enjoy the shared Hip-Pop booths for emerging artists. We recommend you research who you want to see in advance. It’s a big show, and strolling the aisles to admire and engage with artists takes us close to four hours. The good news is, there’s usually a bourbon tasting right at the perfect rest spot on the conference floor. Even your taste buds will be stimulated!

The Midwest will be home to the NCECA show this year, quite the shift from Pittsburgh where we were lucky enough to drive last year. As an educational event targeting ceramic artists, NCECA is more focused on the skills and tools ceramicists need to enhance their craft. The beauty of this event is the collection of pieces aggregated in regional showcases on the exhibit floor.

We plan to share the fruits of our show travels with you in upcoming newsletters so be sure you’re signed up (see bottom of this page to sign up). A few gems will make it into our home, as is the case every year, and some will be the highlight of future custom gift boxes.

Hit the Switch, Let's Get This Party Started!


That’s what it’s felt like for a long time…us fumbling around in the dark as we searched for the switch, hit the lights and launched this gig. Now here we are, a husband and wife team, starting a new custom gifting experience.

We arrived at this place because we both really enjoy having a creative element in our lives, and it's time for a change (Can anyone else relate to that?!)!  Over the years we’ve visited many small artsy towns and attended plenty of big art shows, a favorite being the American Craft Council,  where we've met folks who are wicked talented. We’ve got a long history of hunting down cool artistic pieces. We love the artists’ work and we recognize we have no gift for throwing pottery or forging metal ourselves.  What we are betting on is our passion for the launch and build and creating beauty from a pile of lumber. As you might guess, this combination has led to many dinner conversations, early morning coffee “what if” discussions, walks around the neighborhood, and drive time talks about what’s next?

Finally, we decided we’d talked enough (we aren’t getting any younger in this process!) and we took the crazy step to start. One can only research and talk for so long before the world – and life – pass you by. Time to put a stake in the ground and our passions to work and hit the “go” button.
We hope you’ll join us on this journey. You can check out more details on who we are in About Us.  Feel free to reach out, follow us on Instagram (@red.rugged) share feedback, and suggest artists we should be considering on the Artists page. This blog will focus on the business side of our efforts and the creative opportunities – and challenges - we face.

If you haven’t already, it’s time for your first look at these hand-crafted gift boxes and artisan pieces!

A scene below from one of our many days talking about launching a business...