Why the Directory exists and what it does
How We Judge
You are here.
A look at Directories past
Directory tags assure historical accuracy and quality
The artists selected for the 2016 Directory of Traditional American Crafts.
Crafts by Type
See who has been selected as best in America in making specific crafts.
Artists by Name
Find out more about an artist selected for the Directory.
Directory by Year
A look at Directories past
What’s going on in the artist community
View and download the 2018 Directory application
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See the best traditional artists in America
For those who read or want to write for the magazine
How We Judge
do not award selection for the Directory lightly. A jury of museum curators, university
professors, antiques dealers and collectors screens each entrant's work. The
work is reviewed and rated by experts working in the area of a particular
craft (furniture experts judge furniture, textile experts judge textiles),
and the cumulative judgment of each of these jurors leads to the selection
of a particular artist's work to be included in the Directory. The work is
judged anonymously. The judges identify work by number and are not told
whose work they are evaluating. In the last few years, our board of
jurors has numbered about twenty.
evaluate each work using a five-point scale.
The highest rating is Museum
Quality, which indicates the artist has achieved or surpassed the
highest standards and the work is suitable for display in a museum now and
undoubtedly will find its way there in the future.
One step down is rated Master,
indicating the artist has achieved a full mastery of his medium, technique,
and skills. His work is the same quality as the best available in early
At the midpoint of the scale is Journeyman, indicating now
as in days gone by the work of one who is competent at his craft and
produces work acceptable in fit, feel, and finish for general commerce of
the day. The journeyman will likely hone his skills and one day become a
The Apprentice level reflects the talents of one who is new
to a craft and has not yet learned its intricacies.
At the bottom, we rate
as Does not belong in this competition the work that does not make
the minimum standard for grading, often because of a misinterpretation of
our goals and requirements.
In general, jurors rate the work we include in
the Directory at the Master level or higher. Because the jurying is
inevitably subjective, one juror's Journeyman is another's Master, so we
combine the results of multiple jurors to minimize the effects of personal
pay a fee to participate. This ensures that artists are serious about their
participation as well as helps to pay the expenses of this
almost-overwhelming project. We use this fee to pay for solicitation (the
mailing out of entry forms to those who request them), the clerical and
administrative costs associated with processing the applications and
preparing the entries for judging, costs involved in jurying (including
honoraria, mailing and telephone expenses, and the like), arrangement of a
site for and the photography of selected pieces of the work for inclusion in
Early American Life magazine, and the cost of return of those works
lent to us for photography.
Or call 440-543-8566 to subscribe or buy back issues.
2019 Directory Participants
The deadline is past for applying to enter the 2019 Directory of Traditional American Crafts. Applications are now in the hands of the jury, who will select the best artistry to include in the Directory. When the judges have completed their selections, we will individually notify each participant whether he had been selected. Please refrain from contacting us during the jurying process. It will only slow things down.
We've mailed the
April 2019 issue of Early American Life to all of our current subscribers. The postal service advises you should allow up to three weeks for delivery,
so subscribers should have their copies of our new April issue by the beginning of March.
All new web subscriptions will start with the June 2019 issue. Call us at 440-543-8566 if you have other subscription requirements.
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