Thursday, March 20, 2008

School Days, School Days

I want to thank Don Carmen and the students in his Wood 1 and Wood Sculpture classes at San Benito High School for the nice reception and interest in my work.

It was an honor to be able to give talks at both classes and discuss my craft. The students seemed interested and some of their questions were intelligent and thoughtful. I hope I, in some way, inspired some of them that a future in arts and crafts can be an attainable goal.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

New products?

Whistles, nutcrackers, pen and holder. All carved!

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Baulines Craft Guild at the Contemporary Craft Market

Back in the 1970s, I journeyed up to Bolinas to attend one of the most memorable craft shows I've ever attended. It was a small gathering of woodworkers, potters, jewelers, fabric and glass artists in a forest glen on the north side of Bodega Bay. I saw musical instruments of all types by Steve Klein and others. I saw some of the most unique furniture designs I'd ever seen at the time. My eyes were wide with excitement seeing all the wonderful craft creations. This was one of the first Master shows put on by the Baulines Craft Guild.

I envied all those craft artists. At the time I was a blue-collar worker, who had left the minimum/minimal pay job as a professional musician, to go to the steady, well-paying labor of a union carpenter. I had art in my soul. Since grade school, I always drew, wrote, and created "things" that I thought of as art. Fortunately, my parents were supportive of anything I attempted, and always told me that I should learn from my mistakes or failures so I'd be better next time. In the 1970s, I was still trying to bring out the art or craft that I knew was inside me. Shortly after seeing the beautiful works of those early Baulines Craft Guild members, I did find my craft: stringed musical instruments.

Jump ahead around 30 years or so. In October of 2006 I was voted into the Baulines Craft Guild as a Master Member. This was due to an exhibit of one of my instruments in a gallery show in Walnut Creek, California. It was a juried exhibition of crafts that artists from all over the country had pieces accepted, including a few Baulines members. The director of the Baulines attended and was intrigued by my rebec with a hand-carved head and body of a gargoyle figure I called "Quasimodo." She asked for me to apply, with her as my sponsor. I did, and soon became a member of the Baulines, a guild I wanted to be part of for over 30 years.

Being part of the Baulines Craft Guild is not just meetings and the occasional member show, it is also about teaching what you know through education and apprenticeship and also taking part in group events. One such group event is coming up this weekend at Fort Mason, San Francisco. It is the Contemporary Craft Market and runs Saturday and Sunday, March 8 and 9, from 10 to 5. A booth was made available for the Baulines Craft Guild and several members will be showing pieces as well as spending time there to answer questions and talk about their works. I will be there Sunday, from 2 to 5.

And, if you want to see more of my work, you can always go to my web site at So, 'til next time, onward and upward.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Welcome to the new Ron Cook Studios Blog.

I just got back from the American Craft Show in Baltimore a few days ago and had a wonderful time there. We decided to reserve a corner booth this year, and it turned out to be a wise decision. I was able to ship fewer display panels, and we bought new pedestals to display my newest work. I also advertised in the American Craft Magazine and the Wholesale and Retail programs, which brought in quite a few people into my booth. Of course, having a good location in a giant convention center where 750 exhibitors are selling is often a luck of the draw, but we had a good location near the food court.

One of the best things about the American Craft Shows is meeting the other artists. We had great neighbors in the booths around us, and, I think, began some beautiful friendships. I look forward to seeing them all again. (The picture is Holly Fisher, the industrial prom queen, and wonderful artist blacksmith.)

March 2, 2008

After a major show like the American Craft Show in Baltimore, it takes me several days to get back into the swing of things. I do go through a short period of "post-show depression" (thinking of what I could have done, should have done, didn't do, etc., etc., etc.), but today broke out of it with a vengence. Not only did I start work on three new instruments and complete several pieces of folk art, I seem to have gotten another zither repair. I've worked on several zithers now, and Google searches for zither repair put me right at the top of the list. When I returned from Baltimore, there were three zither inquiries in my e-mail inbox. So far, one is ready to contract me to restore her old Slovenian zither. I'll keep you all posted on the progress.

Tomorrow I pick up all my crates that came back from the Baltimore show, then I have to get ready to be part of the Baulines Craft Guild booth at the Contemporary Craft Market in San Francisco. (Ft. Mason, San Francisco, March 8 and 9, 10 to 5pm.) Then I need to get a presentation ready for a talk I'm to give for a sculpture and woodshop class at San Benito High School in Hollister, California. That's in one of my old stomping grounds in what is often called the "earthquake capital." Hollister is where I first went to college back in 1964 and also became a semi-serious folk singer. (That endeavor seemed to take precedence over my studies).

The evening and dinner preparations beckon.