Makers in the USA: Best Arts & Crafts (2016)


Traditional arts and crafts are the foundation on which the American maker culture has been built. These 10 makers, nominated by a panel of experts in the maker movement and voted to the top by 10Best and USA TODAY readers, celebrate art and creativity through thoughtfully designed (and often handmade) items ranging from letterpress paper goods to up-cycled sculpture.

  • Mini Museum

    Mini Museum
    Limited Edition Collectables

    Hans Fex, the maker behind the Mini Museum, grew up in Washington, D.C. reading science magazines and visiting the Smithsonian museums with his father. Inspired by his father's collection of interesting artifacts, Hans set out to create mini museums – grand collections of rare objects in a manageable space. 
    Photo courtesy of Mini Museum

  • Lily & Val

    Lily & Val
    Letter Design & Chalkboard Art

    Pittsburgh-based maker Valerie McKeehan hand letters and illustrates each item on sale at Lily & Val. She creates prints, greeting cards and other paper goods, but the items that really shine are the chalkboard signs.
    Photo courtesy of Lily and Val / Etsy

  • Emily Jeffords

    Emily Jeffords
    Mixed Media Paintings

    From her studio in Greenville, South Carolina, Emily Jeffords creates abstract impressionistic works with oil on canvas, acrylic and watercolor on paper and cyanotype mixed media. She's most known for her abstract landscape paintings, available as originals or prints.
    Photo courtesy of Emily Jeffords / Etsy

  • Sunny Mullarkey Studio

    Sunny Mullarkey Studio
    Linocut Prints

    From her studio – a renovated 1935 gas station – in West Greenville, Sunny Mullarkey creates stunning hand-pulled prints on paper, wood and linen. These pieces of art take inspiration from the natural world, with mountain and insect motifs.
    Photo courtesy of Sunny Mullarkey Studio / Etsy

  • 1767

    Reclaimed Wood Wall Art

    1767, a group of creatives based in Nashville, creates Southwestern and Art Deco-inspired handmade goods for the home, often using centuries-old wood reclaimed from the city's urban decay.
    Photo courtesy of Kate Dearman for 1767

  • 7 Ton Design and Letterpress Co.

    7 Ton Design and Letterpress Co.
    Letterpress Paper Goods

    Based in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, 7 Ton Design and Letterpress Co. is a team of three creatives with a passion for letterpress printing and graphic design. Gift-able items include prints, cards and leather-bound journals.
    Photo courtesy of 7 Ton Design and Letterpress Co.

  • JunkArtGypsyz

    Vintage Inspired Marquees

    Britton & Chandra, a husband and wife team living in the California desert, create custom signs and vintage-style marquees from wood, aluminum and fence boards. These playful marquees by JunkArtGypsyz can be customized and personalized.
    Photo courtesy of JunkArtGypsyz / Etsy

  • Alison Brynn Ross

    Alison Brynn Ross
    Wire Taxidermy

    Charleston native Alison Brynn Ross channels her fascination with the quirkiness of life into three-dimensional wire taxidermy sculptures of everything from moose and pronghorn to flamingoes and narwhal. 
    Photo courtesy of Alison Brynn Ross / Etsy

  • Craftbelly

    Home Decor & Paper Goods

    Lizzie Greco, the woman behind Denver-based Craftbelly, fell in love with decorative paper while working in stationary shops in Chicago. Now she designs her own patterned paper and uses it to create colorful paper-wrapped picture frames, stationery and journals.
    Photo courtesy of Craftbelly

  • Doug's Refried Robots

    Doug's Refried Robots
    Recycled Sculpture

    Doug Brannan's passion for collecting unique items from thrift shops and yard sales, paired with a passion for art, led him to begin creating whimsical assemblage art sculptures he calls Doug's Refried Robots.
    Photo courtesy of Doug's Refried Robots

The top 10 winners in the category Makers in the USA: Best Arts & Crafts are as follows:

  1. Mini Museum - Limited edition collectables
  2. Lily & Val - Letter design & chalkboard art
  3. Emily Jeffords - Mixed media paintings
  4. Sunny Mullarkey Studio - Linocut prints
  5. 1767 - Reclaimed wood wall art
  6. 7 Ton Design and Letterpress Co. - Letterpress paper goods
  7. JunkArtGypsyz - Vintage-inspired marquees
  8. Alison Brynn Ross - Wire taxidermy 
  9. Craftbelly - Home decor & paper goods
  10. Doug's Refried Robots - Recycled sculpture

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Suzy Ekman (Makers Market), Erin Godbey (Makers Collective), Dayna Isom Johnson (Etsy) and Sid Orlando (Kickstarter) were chosen based on their expertise of the makers movement.

Additional nominees in this category included Electric Objects, Heather Lins Home, Ink Meets Paper, Jenny Highsmith, Jordan Grace Owens, Resident, Rustic Luv Decor, Studio KMO, Thomas Houha Designs and Waterstone Succulents.

Congratulations to all our arts & crafts makers!

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AlertThe Experts

Suzy Ekman

Suzy Ekman

Suzy Ekman

Erin Godbey

Erin Godbey

Erin Godbey

Dayna Isom Johnson

Dayna Isom Johnson

Dayna Isom Johnson

Sid Orlando

Sid Orlando

Sid Orlando