Smithsonian Craft Fashion + Home show returns to National Building Museum

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Smithsonian Craft: Fashion + Home Show (Part 1)

Are you looking for a fancy new dress to wear to a swanky D.C. gala? How about a rare piece of jewelry to give your spouse while out to dinner? Maybe you need some handcrafted décor to redecorate your home.

Jewelry designer Elaine Robnett Moore of Silver Spring, Maryland, appears in the mirror of her jewelry stand at the National Building Museum. (WTOP/Jason Fraley)

Make sure you head down to the Smithsonian Craft Fashion + Home show inside the National Building Museum in Northwest D.C. near the Judiciary Square Metro station this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“We have about 85 vendors from the country who are absolutely the best in their field, the best craft artists in America,” Kelly Gillespie, member of the Smithsonian Women’s Committee, told WTOP. “We bring together mostly the best clothing and jewelry artists, and then we’ve added some home décor as well.”

The wardrobe booths include local designers like Janey Harrington, a silk artist from Virginia.

“This is the stuff that you cannot get in the mall, you can’t get it in a department store anywhere, this is one-of-a-kind clothing, this is made by hand, sometimes it takes a month to make a piece,” Gillespie said. “Washington is a going-out town. When you’re going to the Kennedy Center, you don’t want to wear something everybody else is wearing, so this is where you find stuff that is just completely unique.”

One of the unique fashion designers is Selma Karaca from Beacon, New York.

“I collect all of my leftovers and then I put them all in one,” Karaca said. “These are actually made out of one piece of fabric ribbon that spirals around the body, so it makes a spiral of infinite movement, all of my artwork always carries that. I taught myself and I learned from my mom, also, but this [approach] came from New York. When I moved to Brooklyn, I found it in the dumpster 24 years ago and I came up with this idea.”

There’s also homemade baby clothes by children’s fashion designer Judy Carr of Lothian, Maryland. Her brand, Bumbershoots by Nana, is named after the British term for “umbrella” (bumbershoot).

“I am the Nana,” Carr said. “This is my retirement project. I’ve gone from being a corporate executive to making baby clothes. I make designer baby sleep sacks and when they start walking, the toddler version, I do the matching blankets and the buddies. You can also buy whole nursery sets, which are three pieces. … I make them from newborn all the way up to a six-year-old. Everything is handmade. I make the stuffed animals.”

If you’re looking for jewelry, check out talented artisans from Carol Patterson to Theresa Applegate.

“One of our favorites is Keith Lewis, who makes affordable but beautiful jewelry,” Gillespie said. “A lot of our jewelry artists work in gold and silver, but others in polymers. … They’re such craft artisans, they taught themselves, they work in recycled and repurposed materials, some are very sustainable, so that mirrors the Smithsonian’s role as well. We love our artists to be using techniques that are gentler on the universe.”

Making her second appearance at the craft show is local jewelry designer Elaine Robnett Moore of Silver Spring, Maryland, who has been proudly designing jewelry for 35 years.

“I use a lot of rubber in my designs, and each one is unique and different, there are no two that are alike,” Moore said. “I source the beads from all over the world. I teach jewelry-making and microbusiness development internationally in Malaysia, East and West Africa, throughout the Caribbean and throughout the United States, so wherever I go, I look for beads to bring them home.”

If you want to redecorate your home, check out the furniture by woodworker Russell Johnson of Baltimore, as well as ceramics by Cliff Lee of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Susan Miller of New York City.

“This is my very first year, I was so thrilled to be invited, I was just jumping out of my skin,” Miller said. “I do ceramics, I work on the wheel, I alter things, I also do hand building. I start playing with a [visual] vocabulary as if a kindergartner playing with blocks. … I have a master’s degree in architecture, and I’m a sculptor, so I bring all of that sensibility to the work that I do in pottery. … I also enjoy making bowls and tabletop things.”

It’s all on display in the majestic space of the historic National Building Museum, which was created by an Act of Congress in 1880. Construction was completed in 1887 as it become the home of the Pension Building, housing the U.S. Pension Bureau and hosting presidential inaugural balls before becoming a museum.

“It has actually the largest indoor Corinthian columns in the world,” Gillespie said. “We love this building and do all of our shows here. … This is such a beautiful building. The National Building Museum and the Smithsonian Craft Show are kind of together, we’ve been together for a long time … for 30+ years here.”

Admission is $20 per person and hours vary depending on the day. Friday is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday is open from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Smithsonian Craft: Fashion + Home Show (Part 2)

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up