Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Focus on Heritage Crafts Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival Opens Friday

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Focus on Heritage Crafts Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival Opens Friday

Article excerpt

Barbara Grossman wants people who come to the inaugural Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival to "leave with this feeling of 'Wow, this was great!' " It will take place Friday and Saturday at the Four Points by Sheraton in Mars.

If her name sounds familiar, it's because she's the founding force behind the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival, the 11th iteration of which will be held March 27 to 29 at The Westin Convention Center Pittsburgh. Now, with her sister Ann Szilagyi, she's launching a new venture that will offer classes, workshops, hands-on demonstrations and a marketplace in a variety of heritage craft media.

After a few years, Ms. Grossman began introducing classes on crafts such as spinning and lace-making at her original festival, and "they filled instantly," she said. "We had requests for alternative classes to knitting and crocheting and at the same time for more knitting and crocheting classes." That inspired her to try a more expansive event.

One of the exhibitors this weekend, for example, is The Stencil Co., a Natrona Heights-based web business that sells quilting stencils and pre-printed wholecloth products to crafters around the globe. "There are not many countries we haven't sold to," said Aasta Deth, whose mother, Cynthia Turnbow, is founder/owner of the company. "Australia is a big customer, and we had an order from Dubai the other day."

Ms. Turnbow started the business in 1985 "with the help of her father who had also been in the industry," Ms. Deth said. While some of the traditional stencil designs they carry are in the public domain, Ms. Deth and her grandfather also create new designs. About 90 percent of their customers work within the fiber arts, but they also have quite a few woodworkers. "There are also some leathercrafters and papercrafters," Ms. Deth said, "and a tattoo parlor called recently."

Ms. Deth said that quilting became more experimental and machine based in the last decades of the 20th century, but of late, she's been "seeing more interest in craft and a resurgence in people wanting to make things by hand again. …

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