If you’re looking for Christmas gifts that show your Alabama state pride, look no further than at artist Sony Clemmons’s folk art. Her whimsical Alabama folk art ornaments, prints and textiles can be found in stores throughout North Alabama. [Read more…] about Sonya Clemmons tells inspiring southern stories through her artwork
Southern Makers an event, which celebrates southern creativity, came to Birmingham for the first time last weekend. Some of the best-of-the best southern artisans, creatives and makers who participated in the event showcased what makes them so special. I am personally thrilled to see a renaissance taking place in our culture where we have events like this that celebrate what makes southerners southern. Sheree Martin of Birmingham Shines and I attended the event to find out why we love celebrating southern culture.
We found unique products at the exhibitor booths that ranged from locally produced honey, to handmade leather goods to an on site barbershop to beautifully hand blown glass.
It was good to see familiar faces like Redland Cotton from Moulton, Alabama, Zkano Organic Socks from Ft. Payne, Alabama, Billy Reid of Florence, Alabama and Alabama Sweet Tea of Montgomery, Alabama. It also was fun to be introduced to new vendors like Lucy’s Inspired, a Birmingham jewelry company selling jewelry that tells a story, George Jones (not that George Jones) the broom maker and Debra Riffe, a linoleum block and woodcut printer.
Alabama breweries also offered samplings of their beers at the show. Breweries and craft beers have offered big entrepreneurial opportunities in Alabama after the law was changed in 2011 lifting restrictions on alcohol content in beer.
Perhaps the most intriguing vendor to me however, was the “Jackalope Queen” by Bunny Lane a New Orleans Taxidermy artist who displayed mutant rabbits dyed pink with unicorn horns. Who remembers the movie Hope Floats? The mother in that movie was a taxidermist whose home had the animals she preserved on display. You have to imagine the art display in that context, but a little more colorful. Bunny’s work can be seen in her gallery on Royal Street in the French Quarter in New Orleans.
For lunch I had a mascarpone grilled cheese with bacon and blueberry jam sandwich from Odette’s a café out of Florence, Alabama. It was wonderfully tasty and I paired it with Alabama’s Sweet Tea. I have wanted to eat at Odette’s every time I am in Florence, but have not had the opportunity.
The highlight of the day was a performance by The Pine Hill Haints of Muscle Shoals, Alabama. I would classify the band as a cross between a Cajun band and a rockabilly band. However, they describe themselves as a honky-tonk country band playing Alabama Ghost Music.
It is inspiring to see such an emphasis and celebration being placed on Southern makers. We too rejoice that we were able to discover a wealth of creativity and entrepreneurial spirit in these makers living in the South.
Birmingham residents had an opportunity to have the Made South experience this weekend at the Hoover Met. I have been following the Made South and Southern Makers phenomena for a couple of years now on Instagram, so I jumped at a chance to go to the show when a friend told me about it coming to Birmingham. It was a perfect show to meet the entrepreneurs I have been following on social media. I also got the chance to support some of them with purchases of Southern-made goods.
There were several vendors and products that caught my eye. I loved to seeing two Alabama distillers participating in the show: Redmont Distilling and John Emerald Distilling Company. I sampled the Redmont Vodka again I had sampled it at Birmingham’s Sloss Fest last year. It didn’t disappoint. I have been following the progress of Emerald Distilling on social media and I really was looking forward to trying their products. I am not particularly fond of whiskey, but their Alabama Single Malt Whiskey is smooth! I highly recommend it!
Other vendors I found interesting at the show were:
The vendor Red Land Cotton sells sheets, pillow covers and other Alabama cotton items from cotton grown on a farm located in Moulton, Alabama near the foot of the Bankhead National Forest.
Statesboro, Georgia’s H.L. Franklin’s Healthy Honey is to die for! I’d never heard of Creamed Honey until today. It was so good and unfortunately it had sold out. I did, however, buy their Crystallized Cotton Honey, my second favorite.
I tried the tasty Delta Blues Rice grits from Mississippi. I learn something new every day, and found out that rice was grown in northern Mississippi.
Marc Nelson’s custom-made denim out of Knoxville, Tennessee had samples of hand-made jeans and denim items.
Of course, I sipped on sweet tea from the Alabama Sweet Company and Honest coffee.
One of the highlights of the show for me was meeting an Instagram friend, Here A Chick There a Chick, a company owned by Kerry Leasure. She is an artist who makes jewelry out of vintage items and with each piece also comes a story about vintage piece that makes up the jewelry.
And what southern maker show would be completed without a Forrest Gump impersonator, none of course!
When you get a chance, you should go to a Made South show.
Six years ago on April 27, 2011, devastating tornadoes hit the state of Alabama. That day, more than 200 people were killed by these storms. Bo Jackson a former Auburn football player wanted to do something to help the state recover.
In 2013, Bo started the one day ride in Cordova, Alabama, the hardest hit town during the storms. According to the Bo Bikes Bama website money is raised for the Alabama Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund which provides money for disaster preparedness and emergency management resources.
To date over $1 million has been raised and over 200 homes have been constructed. The people of Alabama have always been some of the most philanthropic in the nation.
I am always amazed at what captivates a child’s mind and attention. I took my six-year old niece to the McWane Science Center in downtown Birmingham yesterday, and although I had been there many times before, I had never really experienced it through the eyes of a child her age. She was mesmerized by all of the activities and opportunities for experiencing the center not even knowing it was really science she was experiencing. Even though I had to explain to her what some of the things were, she still got into the activities. We played tug of war, we road a bicycle to produce electricity, she pretended like she was looking for fossils in an archaeological dig site and she played in an “itty bitty city” complete with a farm and a cow that she could milk. She was so fascinated by the pretend grocery store and diner where she took my order for a sandwich and pizza. Of course the role she loved best was the check out clerk who rang up groceries on a cash register. She also liked the mirrors that distorted her face and body when she looked in them. She challenged me also to hit a target with a tennis ball by pulling a rope tied to a weighted ball.
It was also fun seeing her interact with other children who she didn’t know. She and a little girl decided to build a castle and play ground out of the building blocks provided in one area. Soon two little girls working together became three.
She barely ate lunch because she was having so much fun and I had fun watching her have fun. I am thrilled she had a chance to learn something and she didn’t even know it.
After playing for three hours, we ventured across the street to the new Pizitz Food Hall. I am still in awe of the transformation Birmingham is going through. Walking into the Food Hall and smelling aromas of the food and seeing how it is laid out really and truly made me feel like I was not in Birmingham, but then and stopped to catch myself and said “yes this is really in Birmingham. ” It’s a gorgeously renovated building. I was most excited to see Warby Parker, an eye glass store with a sustainable mission, as one of the retailers of the building. I purposefully took my Warby Parker glasses with me to have them adjusted, corny I know (they really did need adjusted), but it was my excuse to go in to meet the people and to see the store. Afterwards as promised, my niece and I got ice cream from Lichita’s a Food Hall tenant whose “paletas are reminiscent of southern Mexico and are created using fresh fruit and quality ingredients from farmers markets and local sources.” (From the Pizitz Food Hall website).
It was such a fun day with the best six-year old I know.