Monday, November 3, 2014

Craft in America is a PBS series about craftspeople and how crafts affect the daily lives of people in America. November 11 is Veterans Day and on November 2, 2014, PBS premiered a new episode entitled, Service.  I stayed up to watch it because I knew my late friend Ramona Solberg would be featured in the episode.  Ramona, who died in 2005, was an educator and a jewelry artist who served in World War II in the WACs and later went to college on the G.I. Bill.  Ramona was the first jewelry artist I ever met and while I was never her student, I learned a lot from looking at her work and talking to her.  Three of Ramona's necklaces have recently entered the permanent collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Ramona Solberg in Heidelberg Germany 1946

 Ramona Solberg, Tantric Pendant,1972, Collection of LACMA

 Ramona Solberg, Coral and Electroformed Bead necklace, 1980
 Collection of LACMA

In the episode, Service, two veterans from more recent wars, Ehren Tool and Judas Recendez are  interviewed at length.  Both vets talk about how working with clay has helped them work through their memories of war.  Another interview focuses on Eugene Burks, who is a saddle maker currently serving in the military, in the 3rd US infantry Regiment (The Old Guard).  Eugene's expertise is making the traditional saddles and tack for the horses who pull the caissons for the funerals at Arlington National Cemetery.

Cassions at Arlington National Cemetary

Artist Pam De Luco, a paper maker who is not a veteran but who works with veterans in her paper making studio, is also featured.  Through a project entitled, Combat Paper,  Pam teaches veterans how to create paper from their old uniforms and then print their personal war narrative on the paper.  

To attract female veterans to Combat Paper, she started a book project called Paper Dolls.  Each of the paper dolls featured in the book is based on the life of a real veteran, her personal story and the story is printed on paper made from her uniform.

Papermaker Pam De Luco, working on the Paper Doll project.

 Paper doll with wardrobe from the Paper Doll project.

The female vets participate in the entire project, beginning with deconstructing their uniforms and feeding the remnants into the machine that will make the paper pulp.  Each veteran works with an artist who creates a hand-drawn version of their particular uniform complete with the medals that she earned. When the paper is finished, each veteran learns how to set the type for her personal story. 

 For more information about this amazing project please go to the link below
 and click on Paper Dolls.

 Craft in America is available on DVD and the episode Service will be replayed several times this month.  It is a moving and personal tribute to the real people who serve in our armed forces and their contributions.