- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 20, 2002

Billie Ruth Sudduth of Bakersville, N.C., has been venting her frustration by making baskets.
"Most of my baskets are very symmetrical and balanced, almost classical looking," she says. "I thought I would just weave and see what happens. When I finished, I squeezed it as hard as I could. I disfigured it and thought I would never make another basket again."
This exercise, which she started as a therapeutic release after the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon, helped Mrs. Sudduth create a new type of artwork, the "Squashy Basket." She plans to display these creations in the Smithsonian Craft Show, which will be held Thursday through April 28 at the National Building Museum in Northwest.
Mrs. Sudduth is one of the 120 artists taking part in the 20th annual event.
The participants were selected from about 1,368 applicants in several categories, such as basketry, ceramics, decorative fiber, wearable art, jewelry, leather, furniture, wood, glass, metal, paper and mixed media.
David Paul Bacharach, a metalsmith from Cockeysville, Md., says he's thrilled to be participating in the show for the 15th time. He is presenting his woven metal artwork, which he makes into baskets, wall sculptures, jewelry and furniture.
"It's a prestigious show to get into," Mr. Bacharach says. "It attracts some of the finest craftspeople in the world."
Zelma Loseke, a basketmaker from East Corinth, Vt., constructs willow baskets. She says Europeans use willow extensively for durability and beauty. Her baskets have a feminine look to them, with warm golden and brown hues. This is her second appearance at the event, in which she first participated in 1986.
"I get the willow from the river area near my home," she says. "Other times, people cut their willow trees down and discard them and they call me."
Ms. Loseke says events such as the Smithsonian Craft Show encourage artists to persevere in their fields.
"It allows people to see anything is possible," she says. "It's great for people to just realize they can do it and stay with an idea and see what happens."
Wendy S. Wall, publicity director for the show, says that during the past 20 years the event has raised about $5 milion, which goes toward research and outreach in the Smithsonian Institution. This year, the event is awarding about $10,000 in prizes to artists for exceptional work.
"Our artists are not in mass production," she says. "The things you buy at the show are very individual. You are not going to see it somewhere else."
Donald Friedlich, a jewelry maker from Madison, Wis., creates most of his pieces using glass and gold. He carves glass in special shapes and sets it in 18-karat or 22-karat gold. He designs items such as brooches, earrings and cuff links.
Since graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1982, he has participated in the show about 18 times.
"It's hard to believe it's been 20 years since I started doing the show," Mr. Friedlich says. "It's my favorite show of the year. I feel it's the best one in the country."

WHAT: Smithsonian Craft Show
WHERE: National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 27 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 28
TICKETS: $12 general admission or free for children younger than 12
PHONE: 301/320-4121


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