Art & Design Magazine

Five Questions with Handi-hour Coordinator Katie Crooks

By Americanart

Katie Crooks coordinates the quarterly craft program Handi-hour at the American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery. The Renwick Gallery will close for renovation in December, so we thought now was a good time to catch up with Katie about the popular program and find out what will happen to it while the Renwick is closed. Before the Renwick closes we have one more Handi-hour coming up this coming Wednesday, November 6.


Eye Level: So, what's Handi-hour all about?

Katie Crooks: Handi-hour is the combination of "handicraft" and a "happy hour". It is an event open to anyone 21 and older who enjoys sitting down to craft and socialize with a cold drink (beer or soda). Guests pay an entry fee for two drink tickets, snacks, live music, and all they can craft. Handi-hour is about getting your hands dirty, getting creative, making new friends, learning new skills, and having a great time.

EL: Where did you originally get the idea?

KC: We had been searching for a way to serve younger audiences through our programs and learned about a popular program then being offered by the Museum of Craft and Folk Art (now closed) in San Francisco, called "Craft Bar." We carefully looked at their program model and adjusted it, putting our own unique spin on the event. And that's how Handi-hour started.

EL: You do different crafts at each event. Which has been your favorite and why?

KC: That is a really tough question! I spend a lot of time searching for crafts that are just right for Handi-hour, and I spend hours practicing them so that I can generate the tutorials that visitors use during the event. Looking back, I think the Handi-hours featuring hoop-art ornaments and needle felting were two favorites. Especially seeing our holiday tree fully decorated by ornaments made by our Handi-hour attendees —that was awesome!

EL: Tell us about the Handi-hour that's coming up on November 6.

KC: Our next Handi-hour will feature basket-making. I've been looking forward to this Handi-hour since the museum announced that we'd be exhibiting A Measure of the Earth: The Cole-Ware Collection of American Baskets, the generous gift of 79 baskets to the museum by the noted collectors Steven R. Cole and Martha G. Ware. I've always loved baskets for their beauty and function, and this exhibition finally gave me a reason to learn how to craft them. We are going to try to have a variety of different types of basket forms to choose from (reed, paper, yarn, etc.), so I'm excited to see what our attendees will create!

EL: And finally, what is going to happen to Handi-hour when the Renwick closes for renovations at the end of this year?

KC: Luckily, the Renwick Gallery is part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and we're going to keep on crafting at the museum's main building at 8th and F Streets, N.W. The Luce Foundation Center for American Art on the third floor of the museum will become Handi-hour's home until the Renwick Gallery reopens. The first Handi-hour in our temporary location will be on March 6, 2014. I'm going to miss the Renwick's Grand Salon, but the Luce Center is an awesome and inspiring space to create in. We will also be offering "Pop-up Handi-hours" in various locations during the Renwick renovation. You'll find free crafting stations during this winter's Take 5! jazz concerts held in the Kogod Courtyard, so keep a look out for us!

In preparation for our next Handi-hour on November 6, watch videos of Katie demonstrating how to make paper and reed baskets!

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog