At Pewabic pottery studio in Detroit, Kevin Kwiatkowski presses clay into a mold to create its popular 12 Days of Christmas ornaments. CREDIT: MARK MARKLEY
“Celebration,” part of the ongoing Peabody Award-winning Craft in America series, marks the upcoming holiday season with an all-new hour premiering nationwide on PBS Friday, Dec. 11. The new episode examines the role craft plays in holiday customs.
Celebration starts off in Detroit, a city being revitalized in part by artists building on traditions established by previous generations of Detroit artisans. This rebirth is evident at Pewabic, founded in 1905 and now one of only two active turn-of-the-century pottery studios in the country. It focuses on the creation of Pewabic’s 12 Days of Christmas ornaments, which not only decorate Christmas trees in Detroit but are sought after by families across the country.
In Chicago, artist Babatunde Graves has been making kinaras, the candleholders for Kwanzaa celebrations, for more than 40 years. At Chicago State University, viewers join with people of all ages in the music and dancing of the Kwanzaa festivities, and are given insights into the meaning of the ceremonial table and the traditions of the seven days of Kwanzaa.
Sending holiday greeting cards to friends and family is still a cherished American tradition. In Tacoma, Wash., woodblock artist Yoshiko Yamamoto creates a special Winter Cardinals card for this episode, then shares her design with ceramic artist Nawal Motawi in Ann Arbor, Mich. Nawal and the artists at Motawi Tileworks translate the Winter Cardinals into a ceramic tile, using their signature raised-line technique to produce a simple and elegant work of art.
The episode concludes in San Francisco, where the 150-year-old tradition of celebrating the Chinese New Year with a parade continues to thrive. Artists Corey Chan and Jeff Lee carry on the tradition of the lion dance and dragon-making to a new generation of artists, while Dave Thomas, Stephanie Mufson and Yumei Hou, with a staff of exceptional artists, create more than 20 floats for the parade, estimated to draw over a million spectators.
Check local listings for times on PBS stations of this episode, or view it online at www.pbs.org/craftinamerica