Sponsored by NICHE magazine, the NICHE Awards program began in 1989 to celebrate excellence and innovation in American and Canadian fine craft. Artists are recognized in both professional and student divisions.

Judging of Entries

Nearly 2,000 entries are received each year from professional and student craft artists from across the U.S. and Canada. Each year, a prestigious panel of judges is selected by the editors of NICHE magazine, including gallery owners, guild and museum directors, curators, craft industry experts and arts advocates.

After the judging process is complete, and counts are tallied, the top-scoring pieces—5 in each category—become NICHE finalists. Out of these five, the highest-scoring piece in each category wins the NICHE award.

Finalist Gallery

Finalist galleryThe NICHE Awards finalist display at the American Made Show (formerly the Buyers Market of American Craft).

One of the best ways for finalists to showcase their work to potential buyers and collectors is in the NICHE Awards Finalist Gallery at the American Made Show—the nation’s premier wholesale gift market for handmade American and Canadian fine craft and design. The gallery display is located outside the main show halls and is a hugely popular attraction. Many finalists receive direct inquiries about their work, whether on the show floor (if the finalist is also an exhibitor) or by leaving business cards and/or brochures at the display.

Awards Ceremony

NICHEAwardsWinners-PattiAndDaveHeglandWithHopeDanielsNICHE magazine editorial director Hope Daniels (far right) with Patti and Dave Hegland, 2013 winners in the professional division Glass: Fused category.

The NICHE Awards ceremony takes place each January during the American Made Show. The winners are revealed at the ceremony and each winning artist receives a trophy.

At the ceremony, student and professional winners take the stage side by side. Students benefit by meeting masters in their fields. Yet many attendees have noted that inspiration flows both ways. “The professionals inspire us with their technical mastery and their understanding of the role of craft in shaping culture,” says Hope Daniels, editorial director of NICHE magazine. “The students thrill us with their risk-taking vision of what craft is today and has yet to become tomorrow.”