Featured Friday: Tennessee Craft

July 7, 2017

Featured Friday: Tennessee Craft

For the "Featured Friday" series from Opportunity NOW intern Soteria Reid, learn more about member organization Tennessee Craft.


Mission: We work to continue and create Tennessee’s fine craft tradition by connecting emerging and experienced makers and the public with resources and opportunities to make their mark on our state’s handmade legacy.

Tennessee Craft started in 1965, but the history of handmade crafts predates anyone still alive today; settlers all over the world crafted tools – not only for survival but pleasure and beauty as well. As the Industrial Revolution caused people to start valuing efficiency and high levels of productivity over creativity and quality, the Arts and Crafts Movement arose. From this movement came what is now known as Tennessee Craft, an organization that preserves the important custom of handmade craft. They do this by connecting craft artists to statewide and local opportunities as well as the resources they need to take the next step of their journey – anything from learning additional craft skills to building their own business.

Here are six initiatives and programs to look out for from Tennessee Craft.

  • Tennessee Craft fairs (spring and fall) – feature over 200 juried artists, emerging makers, craft demonstrations and activities for kids in Centennial Park
  • Make Your Art. Make It Work. – Tennessee Craft’s annual professional development workshop series which helps artists strengthen their business skills (e.g. branding, marketing, pricing, selling strategies)
  • MAAP (Master Artist Apprentice Program) – provides concentrated learning experiences to apprentices demonstrating a commitment to further their abilities as specialized craft practitioners. Apprentices receive a stipend to work with one of 3 masters for 6 months (funded by Tennessee Arts Commission).
  • Professional development scholarships (quarterly deadlines) – provide members with up to $250 to cover the cost of professional development events and opportunities.
  • Summer Study scholarships – provide members with full funding to take summer workshop classes at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Appalachian Center for Craft or Shakerag Workshop @ St. Andrew’s-Sewanee
  • Tennessee Craft Week – coincides with American Craft Week; a collection of craft events across the state to celebrate craft artists, the work they create and the businesses that support them

When asked what makes Tennessee Craft special to her, membership manager Jessica Jain responded, “I am proud to be part of an organization that celebrates fine craft and the talented artists who are dedicated to producing high-quality pieces of functional art. Not only do I enjoy learning about each artist’s unique process of creation, I enjoy being able to facilitate connections between artists of various craft mediums and skill levels statewide.” Their network includes craft artists of all skill levels, those who love craft, and the public who they help to understand and appreciate crafting and the impact its heritage has on the state.

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