Friday, November 20, 2009

And you thought the mountains were for hiking

pottery.closeup

The mountains are for shopping! Between studio sessions of my class last weekend, the girls and I were able to get in some very enjoyable (a little too enjoyable) shopping. While almost every shop in Gatlinburg boasts an amazing supply of leather, fudge, knives and swimwear, and other's are called Cooter's Funhouse, there manages to also be some serious little jewels among the shopping venues. I found myself in the Arrowcraft shop/gallery 3 times within 4 hours in one day. I could not get enough. The only thing that kept me under control was the fact that we only had two cars to get everything home.

new.brush.house

First this gorgeous little vase, is my personal token to remember my time spent at Arrowmont. At the risk of sounding entirely too Zen, it is just so completely what it is. A pure example of gorgeous handcrafted, handglazed pottery of Southern Appalachia.

my.new.shiny

You can't grow up in East Tennessee as I did and not be aware of the craft history and inherent traditional art disciplines of this region of the country. It seems I was too cool for such simplicity and spent most of my younger years ignoring much of what was around me in search of apparently bigger, presumably more fashionable and deceivingly better artistic endeavors. But walking into this one shop was a little bit like walking into the surroundings of my youth with wiser eyes. Every piece of art and handcrafted item was waiting there in a new light... as warm, lovely and accepting as a great aunt that you've continually forgotten to send letters too.

for.my.itty.boy

So what did I do? I hauled half of it home, by golly gizzards!! Just kidding, sort of. But, for instance, these wooden toys for my Roman's first Christmas beckoned from the store shelf more compellingly when I was able to read about the man whose been making them himself for decades as opposed to similar made by who-knows occupying gift catalogs only when trend au currant says they should. Am I making any sense? I felt a connection. Like I wrote already- everything is just exactly what it is and made by folks who are just exactly who they are... a ceramicist, a woodworker, a handloomer, etc.

handloomed.beauty

In a world where so many (including me) try to be and do so much all at the same time, I found the reminder of artistic simplicity so refreshing, beautiful and pure. I don't know where this blanket is going, and I have no need of blankets but it reminded me far too much of the handloomed wool blankets my Greek grandmother used to make (which I must share with you one day) that I couldn't pass it up.

we.heart.minnetonka

And what is a trip to the mountains without outfitting the feet in a new pair of moccasins? A wasted trip, I tell you! All the girls, littlest to biggest, got a new pair and we're already wearing them in. (I had a pair exactly like Isabela's -second from the left- when I was little.) A perfect layer of warmth between me and an increasingly chilly wooden floor.

Have a warm weekend!, xo, AM

42 comments:

  1. Your finds remind me of my newer appreciation for the Adirondacks and rustic that I've been surrounded by for most of my life. And the wooden toys are simply adorable. I received a set of wooden rolling wheels connected by string that can be piled into a pyramid that a patient of mine spends his time making for his grandkids as a hobby. Something my little one will probably remember more as a toy as the years pass by, and that might get passed on if he has kids.

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  2. I live in Knoxville and I appreciate this shout out to G-burg! I only recently discovered you and your fanTABulous fabrics. When I found out you went to UT, I couldn't believe it!

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  3. Lovely treasures. As for mocassins...I grew up wearing them and I have a pair today. Hard to find and next time I do...I'm stocking up!!!

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  4. I agree, that vase is perfect.

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  5. I always begged my Mom to buy me a pair of moccasins whenever we went to the mountains - I would wear them everywhere! I loved the soft leather!

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  6. I think that vase is just beautiful! I have a weakness for little vases. Those wooden toys sure are sweet, too.

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  7. Those moccasins remind me of the Minnetonka moccasins my sister and I had as kids. A white pair and a pink pair...

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  8. heather7:00 AM

    i tried resisting commenting before about gatlinburg, but now i just have to! my dad grew up in maryville and every summer we would drive down from michigan to visit. we always camped in the smokies and cades cove is one of my favorite places. gatlinburg was a treat and i loved wandering through all the shops. my husband and i even honeymooned there. i also had the beaded minnetonkas and have just found them available in london and quite fashionable too. thank you for a bit of the familiar to a girl living far from home!

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  9. This post made me so happy! We left Chattanooga behind 2 years ago when my husband got a job in South Florida, and I start missing the mountains this time of year! There are SO many incredible craftspeople in that region. Christmas shopping just isn't the same down here...

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  10. My friends and I used to visit Gatlinburg regularly, but it has been several years since I have been there. I want to emphasize for those who have never been there that Gatlinburg is perfect for a honeymoon and fun for just visiting for a spontaneous weekend. There are shops, but then there are EXHIBITS AND SHOPS of such great quality. The atmosphere is relaxing and the town is small and perfect for walking. Right next door is the Cherokee National Forest and walking trails. Just beautiful.

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  11. With age comes wisdom!!! It IS the small,simple things that touch us most. Roman is going to enjoy and play with his new toys for a long, long time, because they are simple and will last. I love the vase. Who needs crystal, when you can do THIS
    with mud!!!

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  12. I really love to read your posts - I love your fabric and design -. but also, it is so nice to hear about your familylife - it sounds so good and just right!:)

    Greetings from Berlin
    Claudia

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  13. East TN has some amazing artisans, which is no wonder with the beauty surrounding them to inspire. I miss living there. love the picture of the moccasins lined up. so fun.

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  14. joriej610:35 AM

    Thank you SO much for purchasing from the craftspeople! The continuity, the respect, the handcraftedness ... far superior to mass produced, many imported, items stocking our local store shelves, catalogs and websites. Each piece brings a piece of the person who created each item.. priceless. And, Anna Marie.... your fabrics show this as well.

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  15. Great photos!
    Sigh, if only we could contain the commercial gift giving for treasures like this. I'm not looking to change the whole world (although, that would be nice), only the members of my extended family.

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  16. Being crafty before crafty was cool... I wish I had the shoes that are presumably Julianna's-- with the purple-ish laces. Such lovely stuff!

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  17. I love the vase, the photography...and continued glimpses into your life.

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  18. Ah, this makes me homesick. Just about every weekend in college I would go hiking or fly-fishing (sort of) in the Smokies or around the Blue Ridge. I so miss Southern Appalachia. And the artisans of the region...I just haven't seen such beautiful work in the NW. Maybe I am biased. Thank you for sharing and reminding me of my heritage.

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  19. Oh how I love those moccasins! I would love love to have a pair of those!

    Your photos of the vase with paint brushes is gorgeous!

    Sarah x

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  20. So many neat things! I understand your love for hand-crafted items...we recently moved away from the northermost mountains in North Carolina, and there was such an abundance of local, handmade goodness. Going to the farmers' markets there was like a treasure hunt! Except it was not so difficult to find the treasure : ) I just received my fat quarter bundle of Good Folks fabrics, and I cannot wait to get started on some projects. Thanks!!

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  21. Love your post about Tennessee. My husband and I visited Memphis and Nashville years ago and thought it was so green and beautiful.

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  22. love those mocs!! I want some!! I love that rug they are all lined up on too!

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  23. The Arrowcraft store in gburg is one of my favorite places to visit. When I walk through the door a peaceful feeling washes over me! As a novice potter I love the huge room in the back filled with ceramics. My husband's aunt actually has some paintings displayed and for sale there, maybe you saw them :)

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  24. If you're ever in Gatlinburg again: 1)http://www.gatlinburgcrafts.com/
    2) publicize ahead of time so that I can sneak into the class and stare at you and follow you around in your personal space afterwards and ask you questions like, "Did you have a stroke or something that made you so creative?" and "Do you want to be my best friend forever and come to my house and sit right next to me and sew stuff?"

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  25. What a lovely time you had! How comforting to return to your roots and find, like you did, that you are so much better for where you came from than you realized when you were young. You made perfect sense to me.

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  26. I am totally in love with the moccasins. My two littlest wore moccasins for the first year of their lives and they were the best!

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  27. Oh yay! You made me feel like I was in Gatlinburg (as I have been soooo many times!) I love that Arrowmont shop for the very reasons you named....Love the moccasins :) and YES about the leather, fudge, etc, etc...don't forget the new additions of tattoo parlors.Eh.
    Aunt Mahalia LOL :)

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  28. Neat post! I didn't know that you are from east TN. Me too! Mountain arts and crafts are wonderful.

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  31. I have come to think in similar terms with regard to old things. I think it is because my 40th birthday is approaching!
    For a moment, before I read your text I did think this bedcover was Greek. My late garndpa and mom had similar in a n aray of colours;red and yellow were my favorites, thoughtthey were quite itchy, but I liked snuggling against my grandpa in them!
    Those mocs were all the rage when I was in high school. There is a shop in Kolonaki that still sells them!
    Always anjoy stopping by your welcoming place. All the best.

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  32. have you been on the art & craft loop in Gatlinburg? it is an 8 mile loop on Glades Rd with amazing shops where everything is handmade. I love it me and my mom spent a girls day out there last week and I found handmade goodies for all 4 of my girls (because you know they get my handmade stuff year round so this is different). I am lucky and live a whole 30 minutes away

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