“Celebrate the handmade as part of new and familiar winter traditions.”

I love the holiday season and the art of glass blowing, so when I learned Craft in America: Holiday combined both, it was a no-brainer. And I am not disappointed. The entire Craft in America series assumes a respectful distance from the subjects, acting as the ideal audience member. Each episode serves to showcase part of Americana and Craft in America: Holiday highlights some of the hand-crafted arts that have inspired people for generations.

We begin with Nordic Woodcarving, a tradition that goes back centuries. Deceptively easy in appearance, it takes years to master. Our next stop is the National Gingerbread House Competition, featuring some truly amazing cakes on display from artists young and old. Continuing on, we move to Biltmore House and learn how decorating the centuries-old house for the holidays takes a full year. Susan Garson is our next artist and she demonstrates how she creates handmade menorahs.

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and our final segment heads down south to showcase a handful of local artisans. First we learn about the celebration of Gran Posada in San Antonio. Next we get up close and personal with the family at Garcia Art Glass and marvel as they blow glass. Artist Veronica Castillo next discusses the artistry behind the ancient art of creating a Tree of Life. Our journey then enters the kitchen of Isabel and Enrique Sanchez who showcase their talents at cooking tamales. The final stop is at papel picado artist Kathleen Trenchard’s home where she demonstrates how to make a luminary.

The best part of the show is the clear ease the subjects demonstrate in front of the camera, lending a relaxed atmosphere to each segment as the artisans engage in their crafts. While there are a few how-to portions, the majority of the program merely showcases the talents. With no narration to interrupt, the episode is free to go in and out of each segment on action as opposed to some pithy quip. It works as both a documentary and a how-to for those segments that aspire to be one, the other, or both.

The video transfer is a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, standard fare for currently produced shows. There is a bit more fluidity to the camera work here as the operators must occasionally move in order to allow the artist complete freedom of movement. While it does not necessarily detract, it does draw attention to itself. The audio track is a simple Dolby Digital 2.0, which serves the broadcast well as there are no bells or whistles to test the track.

There were no special features.

I enjoy Craft in America and the “Holiday” episode in particular. If there’s ever another Craft in America compendium, I say snatch it up in order to broaden your horizons. As it stands, merely an episode at a time being released means my recommendation is to stream it.

THE VERDICT

Not guilty.

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