20 Mar 2015

The 2015 Rare Craft Fellowship Awards

Craftsmanship is at the heart of all we do at The Balvenie. We believe that the perseverance and dedication required to take the often counter-intuitive route to create products in the hardest (and best) way deserves recognition. It is this commitment that led to the creation of The Rare Craft Fellowship Awards, an annual celebration of craftsmanship in all its forms. With our partners at The American Craft Council, we were thrilled to celebrate the 2015 finalists at a special event in their honor in New York City.

This year we were particularly honored to welcome culinary legend and craft enthusiast Anthony Bourdain as a judge at the Rare Craft Fellowship Awards. After careful review with his fellow panelists, he announced the selection of this year’s Rare Craft Fellow: Bob Kramer, who inspired us with his exquisite handmade blades and quest for the ideal kitchen knife. 

Each finalist will receive a grant to help them continue to hone their skills and develop their respective crafts. As the 2015 Fellow, Bob will also be journeying to our distillery in Dufftown, Scotland. There, he will collaborate with our own team of craftspeople – sharing stories, skills, and a mutual love of doing things the old way.

The bios and videos below offer you a peek into the truly rare craftsmanship of each of the nominees. Pour yourself a dram and enjoy – we hope they inspire you to celebrate authentic craft with us.

Winner and 2015 Fellow: Bob Kramer, Bladesmith

Bob’s interest in blades began when he was working as a chef and needed a way to keep his knives sharp. After traveling the country in search of training in the art of sharpening, Bob became one of 120 certified Bladesmiths in the United States and started his own workshop in pursuit of the perfect kitchen knife. Sláinte, Bob! 

2015 Finalist: Elizabeth Brim - Blacksmith

Elizabeth received her MFA in printmaking and was a professor of ceramics before she began studying metals and blacksmithing. Her work is often noted for the startling juxtapositions of traditionally feminine objects with her medium of choice, iron. She currently teaches at Penland School of Crafts.

2015 Finalist: Mark Hewitt - Ceramist

Born and raised in Stoke-on-Trent, Mark came from a family that thrived on potting fine ceramics and decided to carry on the legacy in becoming a potter at university. After apprenticing in both England and Connecticut, he moved to Pittsboro in 1983 to start his own studio. He currently serves as President of the Board of Directors at the North Carolina Pottery Center in addition to his artistic pursuits.

2015 Finalist: Mary Jackson - Basket Weaver

Born in 1945 in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, Mary practices basket-weaving techniques passed down through her family for generations. She began working full-time as an artist in 1973 by creating baskets from sweet grass, a plant that is indigenous to South Carolina, and continues to focus on the material today.

From ceramists to blacksmiths, each nominated craftsman painstakingly developed and perfected a unique skill. Their devotion to honing their craft mirrors our own, and we’d like to offer a whole-hearted thank you to all of our kindred craftsmen for joining us at this year’s Rare Craft Fellowship awards.

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