Craft in America: HOLIDAY celebrates some of our most important cultural and religious customs and leads viewers directly to their own creativity. To watch HOLIDAY episode how-to videos, click HERE >
Harley Refsal is an internationally recognized wood figure carver specializing in Scandinavian flat‐plane wood carving. Raised in Minnesota, he has lived in Norway in the 1960s and 1980s, and traveled extensively throughout Scandinavia. Refsal, who speaks fluent Norwegian, has shared his knowledge of and skills in Scandinavian carving with thousands of carvers through courses and presentations in North America and Scandinavia. In the episode, Harley Refsal teaches a Scandanavian wood carving class at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. “Many holiday traditions, Christian and non-Christian, come from the winter solstice which was a pagan holiday that marked the start of the solar year and celebrated light and the rebirth of the sun. Santa, the Christmas tree, gifts and special meals all had their beginnings in the winter solstice.” Carve a holiday figure with Harley Refsal.
Harley Refsal, Carved figures. Madison Metro photograph
Each year, contestants from across the country bring their unique architectural gingerbread masterpieces to The Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC, where competition is at the highest level and everyone is a winner at the National Gingerbread House Competition. Watch Grove Park Inn chefs build and decorate a gingerbread house.
Teen Third Place winner of the 2012 National Gingerbread House Competition
The Biltmore House, built in 1895, is a magnificent estate with 250 rooms and 8,000 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is the largest privately owned home in the United States. At Christmas, the grand home is adorned with decorations and mementos that hint at timeless holidays of a glorious bygone age to memorialize the first Christmas in 1895 when the newly built house was first opened to the Vanderbilt family and friends.
Biltmore House Banquet Hall and Christmas tree
In Colorado, ceramic artist Susan Garson hand paints fanciful designs on menorahs that she forms from clay. Susan takes us to her congregation for a special Chanukah celebration that includes lighting candles, singing songs, and playing Dreidel, a game of chance. Make your own bird menorah with Susan Garson.
Ceramic artist Susan Garson builds a bird menorah, Mark Markley photograph
In San Antonio, Texas, the colorful, creative Mexican influence is particularly evident at Christmas when the city sparkles with 150,000 lights on the River Walk. Follow hundreds of people in the Gran Posada procession as they sing and light candles, walking through the downtown streets, uniting the community through story and song.
Garcia Art Glass was founded by Gini Garcia in 1998 and is now a family-run hot glass design and fabrication studio that specializes in one‐of‐a‐kind blown glass lighting and sculpture. Designs range from functional to the whimsical and are made to client specification. Master Glassblowers Gerardo Muñoz and Dora Garcia coax molten glass into cheerful ornaments.
Gerardo Muñoz at Garcia Art Glass.
Ceramic artist Veronica Castillo has taught over 200 women of the Casita de MujerArtes Cooperativa in San Antonio, TX to shape clay by hand since 1994. Castillo crafts exquisitely detailed, brightly colored folk art objects using centuries‐old methods and symbols. She is a member of the honored Castillo Orta folk art family of Izucar de Matamoros in Puebla, Mexico, renowned for its tree of life candelabras. Politically aware and active, she incorporates many current social issues into her tree of life sculptures. Build your own tree of life with Veronica Castillo.
Veronica and Patricia Castillo make a traditional Navidad Tree of Life, Mark Markley photograph
Isabel and Enrique Sánchez have been active in the Chicano pride movement which started in San Antonio in the late 1960s. They continue to pass on family traditions and culture to their children and grandchildren. They are parents to Graciela Sánchez, Director of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center in San Antonio, Texas. Every Christmas, they hand make tamales with their family to celebrate Navidad.
Isabel and Enrique Sánchez
Kathleen Trenchard has researched and worked in traditional Mexican papel picado (punched paper) ever since the early 1990s when she was introduced to the technique in Huixcolotalsa, Mexico. Her work explores contemporary designs, applications and materials suitable for cut work using hammer and chisel. Trenchard has had many solo and group exhibits and teaches design, painting, drawing and art appreciation in and around San Antonio, TX. Watch Kathleen Trenchard demonstrate how to decorate the holidays with luminarias.
Kathleen Trenchard creates papel picado. Mark Markley photograph
Craft in America: HOLIDAY embraces traditions, both familiar and new – all part of our American experience with the handmade.