Over the Labor Day weekend, my husband and I were traveling to visit one of my sons living out-of-state. Whenever I’m on a road trip, I always schedule in time to do some hunting and gathering along the way. This time we were driving through the Blue Ridge Mountains on I-26. We stopped in Weaverville, North Carolina, and I was completely intoxicated with the delightful shops along Main Street.
At the Well-Bred Bakery & Café, I had smoked Gouda cheese and tomato quiche with their ever so famous kale salad that was beyond scrumptious. Their Facebook pictures tempted us to stop in, but the proof is in the tasting. Divine leaps to mind as an apt descriptor. While there, we talked to Scott Yerkey, who graciously described his favorites and so much more. Just next door is the Miya Gallery. Ron Morecraft’s image of green mold on a tobacco barn caught my eye. This is classic imagery for this area with its storied history as tobacco country. As I spoke with Ron, I felt as though I had met a kindred spirit. An artisan who loves both his art and the culture native to this region.
I couldn’t leave Weaverville without stopping in at the Magnum Pottery Studio and Gallery. The owners, Rob and Beth Magnum, were every bit as hospitable as the folks in the last two shops! We really enjoyed looking around their space. Their pottery products are amazing in scope and design. But I think the color combinations applied before the items go into the kiln are what attract most people.
If you happen to be on I-26 in North Carolina, make a point to stop off in Weaverville, visit these fine shops and chat with the owners and artisans. You’ll be glad you did.
Back on the road, heading south, I began to mull over my design process. I have always focused on the client and when the client is a woman, I wonder, “How does she spend her days? What books does she like to read? What personal passions does she pour herself into?” Then, “Where does she land after a long day? Does she have a favorite chair? Or is there some other special furniture piece that has been handed down from mother to daughter over the generations?” Now, I’m asking myself, “What new eclectic influence or industrial artifact can be incorporated into my work so my pieces will harmoniously blend and reflect her own intimate spaces.
I think Home should be inviting and beautiful, but also include objects and elements that hold special significance to the owner. As for myself, not many items were passed down, so the ones that were passed down are even more precious to me. When I go to estate sales and see an item I love and want, I always remember the object once belonged to someone who spent their time and money just to add it to their personal collection. Respecting the flow of time, making a mark upon it and treating the past with dignity is important to everyone at Bishop & Company. We hope you would agree.
When I first moved to East Tennessee in 2001, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began to network with other artists and woodcraft artisans. I discovered people possessing amazing skills using modern tools able to carve intricate patterns onto specialty woods. They don’t specialize in “just one thing.” Yet they are not what one would consider a “Jack of Many Trades, Master of None.” These folks are serious woodworking artisans. True professionals but quite humble.
When working with them I learn new tidbits and techniques based on years of experience spent in woodshops. One of my favorite woodworkers, now retired, demonstrated how he could recognize the tree of origin just from the smell of the wood after a fresh cut. And we’re not just talking about pine or cedar here but wormy chestnut, cherry and walnut trees, too.
I also met with various artists working in various mediums. From painters using oils or acrylics to sculptors working their artistic magic with metal and wire. These, too, are professionals in their own right. The artistic expression in East Tennessee runs the gamut as well – classic landscapes, still life, portraiture, abstract, modern, post-modern, you name it and you can find it here.
As I began to be more earnest about developing a new line of mirror frames, I needed to reach out to find sources of original barnwoods to surround the reflective glass. This is where the “sense of community” that makes this region of the country notable and shines with great love from its heritage. For these reasons and so many more, I love living in Appalachia and the people I’ve meet along the way. Somebody always knows somebody or points the way to help even when I was a stranger. Reclaimed materials are simply “AGE WITH LOVE.” I have always been interested in re-harvesting, even as far back as to my days in Kansas City, long before it was cool and fashionable. I have been very blessed to do what I do but most of all I’ve been blessed with good, hard-working friends who share the same love of yesterday.