Smithsonian Craft Show is the ability to talk to the artists about their work, to ask questions, and to listen to their helpful advice and suggestions. I always tell them I'm still a ceramics student at my community college so they don't think I'm a total ignoramus, as opposed to Susan, who will ask questions like "How hot does a kiln get?" Of course, sometimes she gets answers that surprise me and I learn from listening to her questions as well as asking my own.
This year one of my favorites was Nathan Falter, a new exhibitor. His work had a turn-of-the-century industrial and rustic feel but at the same time looked contemporary and graceful. He gave me advice about the ways to apply slip and valuable information about underglazes and the kind of kiln I should use -- valuable information for the future (if I ever get my own kiln) but sort of useless now since I'm stuck with the school's kiln.
Another favorite was Andrew Van Assche. His work was crisp, graphic, and clean-lined -- a opposite to Nathan's but just as impressive. His slab building and glazing were meticulous and precise and I can only hope to achieve that type of perfection in 30 years, just like Andrew did. Unfortunately, I'm starting about 30 years too late.