GLENCOE – Betsy Giberson became a fiber wearable artist because she has loved cloth since she was a little girl playing with Kleenex and aluminum foil.
“I used to make doll clothes out of those materials before I could sew,” said Giberson. “ I’ve been making things as soon as I could sit up, and I’ve been drawing things since I began holding a crayon – that’s who I am.”
Giberson is one of 145 of the country’s leading craftspeople participating in the 33rd annual American Craft Exposition (ACE) at the Chicago Botanic Garden September 15 through September 17. There will be a Benefit Preview Party on September 14.
The event will be presented by the Auxiliary of NorthShore University HealthSystem, and guests will have the opportunity to peruse and purchase unique artwork while supporting pharmacogenomics and orthopaedic regenerative medicine research.
The New Hampshire fiber wearable artist has been participating in ACE for years.
“The thing I like most about ACE is the organization that runs it, said Giberson.”It’s not just a craft show where a promoter is trying to make money; it’s a craft show for a really important cause.”
Giberson explained that her clothing is all about layering, because that’s how she loves to dress. Her layering concept works in all parts of the country from Louisiana to Boston to California.
“I always say to people that I don’t really run a business,” she said. “I’m a studio artist making things that I want to make and hoping that other people like it. My brand is me.”
Giberson tries to be careful with the amount of water and chemicals that she uses. She said her septic system comes out clean every five years when it’s checked, and she dumps very little waste.
“I’m very frugal, because I come from New Hampshire,” she added.
As Giberson makes her living frequenting craft shows across the country, she’s created wearable art pieces that travel well and seldom wrinkle.
In the event a piece does wrinkle; “You can always do the grandmother trick of hanging it in the bathroom and turning up the hot water in the shower,” she said.
How do other craft shows compare with ACE?
“ACE is really top quality, well-attended, and it’s beautifully put together,” said Giberson. “The committee does their homework by attending to the details and it’s a well-run show.”
Giberson said committee members search all over the country to discover new artists.
“They have artists of all ages while some craft shows are trying to appeal to young markets who are not that interested, because they like to shop online. ACE has a good balance and they bring in new artists,” she added.
ACE will feature an emerging artists category.
Giberson’s machine washable clothing line can be worn by all different age groups. She’s equally excited when 15-year-olds, like her clothes, as well as older women.
“I like to appeal to all different kinds of women from those who wear the fancy Lululemon exercise clothes to women who are very conservative,” she said.
Giberson tries to walk the whole ACE Show to see what the new designs look like and said she’s most interested in something that’s made by hand.
Giberson explained that the committee tries to bring in new artists all of the time and she’s particularly interested to see someone who’s work she hasn’t seen before.
“At the same time, there are people that I’ve been doing ACE with for about 20 years, and as an artist, I’m excited to see how their work is evolving.”
Laura Koh and Melissa David are returning as the 2017 ACE co-chairs.
“Last year, over 7,500 people attended ACE, enjoying the exceptional artistry and craftsmanship of more than 140 fine craftsmen and women,” said Koh.
David added, “We are so proud to be supporting NorthShore University HealthSystem’s important research initiatives for pharmacogenomics and orthopaedic regenerative medicine. The dedication shown by NorthShore’s medical practitioners has allowed them to become a leading national force in healthcare.”
ACE will feature distinctive pieces made in the United States, by the country’s leading artists showcasing new achievements in jewelry, ceramics, metal, fashion wearables, glass, furniture, fiber decoratives, leather, wood, mixed media and basketry.
ACE 2017 will be held at the Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe on Thursday, September 14 with a Benefit Preview Party from 6:30 to 9 p.m. The Show runs Friday, September 15, and Saturday September 16 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, September 17, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For tickets and more information, visit americancraftexpo.org or call (224) 364-7270.