January Jewelry – Starting from Scratch

It’s not often that I meet an artist who says they truly make their product from scratch.  Especially in the jewelry business, most artists manage to make beautiful accessories by pulling together different pre-bought elements, which still creates a lovely product.  But Melissa Giglio from January Jewelry is about hand-made from the very beginning–and as a trained metal-smith, she has the skills to do just that.

necklaces

The fact that Melissa hand-crafts every detail of her pieces is mind-boggling.

Melissa graduated from East Carolina University and spent five years teaching art, but she kept thinking back to the classes she took during college that introduced her to different crafts.   She loves working with her hands, whether it’s woodworking, tinkering, or experimenting with different elements.  Melissa has a bright, energetic personality, and somehow I imagine she’s the kind of person who never sits still for long.

Which is why, when Melissa and her husband moved to Columbia, SC in the middle of a school year, Melissa took the plunge to step away from teaching and begin her jewelry making business full-throttle.  Melissa knew right off the bat that she wanted to make every component of her creations–an ambitious goal, but one that she’s executed brilliantly.  Every part of Melissa’s jewelry–yes, even the delicate necklace chains–are made by hand.

Melissa

Melissa exudes energy and takes true delight in her craft.

It was such a pleasure to speak with a maker who’s not just an artist, but an expert in her craft.  The process of metalworking is labor-intensive but fascinating, and Melissa executes each stage with finesse–from drawing the designs on sheet metal, cutting out the design, sanding the edges smooth, soldering the piece, cleaning the metal, then finishing with special polishes or patinas.

enamel earrings

The enamel pieces are made by taking powdered glass and fusing it to metal–a fascinating process that yields a mesmerizing finish.

The pieces you’ll find at January Jewelry are distinctive in style.  Melissa is drawn to materials that reflect nature as well as sophistication; the turquoise featured in many of her pieces come from top-quality lapidary artists from Arizona and New Mexico, ethically sourced and 100% unique.  Melissa’s jewelry is both feminine and rustic, romantic and full of character.

turquoise

There is so much that is unique about January Jewelry pieces, from the hand-cut leaf charms to the individual turquoise stones.

Even though she’s a full-time jewelry artist now, Melissa still has the heart of a teacher, and she loves sharing the metalworking process on her Instagram.  It’s a treat to see a product formed from start to finish, and Melissa has an eye for detail and tremendous design talent.  Follow her on Instagram (@januaryjewelry), explore her website, or order a stunning hand-made piece from her Etsy shop!

Sunny Mullarkey – Monumental Details in Stunning Prints

It takes real talent to fuse together opposite elements in a piece of artwork, but Sunny Mullarkey manages to do just that in her linocut prints.  In Sunny’s art you’ll find mountain ranges and raging rivers, all traced into the delicate pattern of a moth’s wing.  Combining the monumental with the intricate is Sunny Mullarkey’s specialty, and I’m so excited to share her work with you!

moth

Through her creative outlook Sunny manages to capture both the universal and the minuscule in her prints.

Art has followed Sunny all her life, from attending the Governor’s School for Arts to studying Fine Arts in college.  Through both her education and her own experience, Sunny has explored different mediums and multiple art styles, but nowadays you’ll find her chiseling out prints on linoleum to create her breathtaking pieces.

“I love how [printmaking] is such a physical art form.  The tools make their own kind of mark that makes the print different from a painting or drawing. Being able to see the chisels and texture of the work is something that you can’t recreate in anything else. ” -Sunny Mullarkey

When Sunny moved her artwork out of the privacy of her home and into a studio space in 2013, she knew it was a big step forward that would signify turning a hobby into a career.  As it turns out, the studio space became a huge motivator for Sunny, and she enjoys sharing the space with other creatives who support and inspire her.

Nat Geo 1

The Station, a studio space used by Sunny and a few fellow creatives, was featured in National Geographic…how cool is that??

The signature look behind Sunny’s prints is the theme of nature: combining the grandeur of a landscape with the fine details of an insect’s wing or a feather.  Sunny’s love for nature and hiking infuses her work and urges the viewer to become a more keen observer, too.

Sunny balances her career as an artist alongside her life as a mother and wife, and speaks passionately about the significance of support from your spouse and community.  Like many of the makers I interview, Sunny emphasizes the importance of finding fellow makers to receive feedback, encouragement, and inspiration.

Warbler1

It’s so hard to sufficiently describe Sunny’s work–it’s both earthy and modern, elegant and playful, imaginative and controlled.

There is so much charisma in Sunny’s work, both in the details and even in the beautiful textures of the paper she prints on.  Sunny gave me no shortage of striking phrases to quote while discussing the artist’s perspective:

“I want to fill the world with beautiful things.  As artists, that’s our duty.  There’s nothing in this world that wasn’t touched by design. Writers, photographers…we’re all here to use our creative gift to make our world more beautiful.  That’s a wonderful gift to have to give to the world.” -Sunny Mullarkey

feathers

Another example of Sunny’s method of combining landscapes with the creatures that inhabit them–mesmerizing.

Sunny’s passion for both nature and art is captivating and speaks to the mission of all artists, both new and experienced.  I hope you’ll take time to explore her Etsy shop and website, and be sure to follow her on Instagram to keep in touch with her amazing work.

Casting Cares – Weighted Comforts

Today I get the pleasure of telling you  about my favorite maker of all time–my own mama!  For as long as I can remember, my mother Kathy Mabry has been sewing and serving others through her hospitality and compassion, and a couple years back she started her business, Casting Cares, to put her skills to use in a unique way.  At Casting Cares, you’ll find a variety of weighted blankets and other weighted products that all provide comfort, security, and relief from multiple issues such as insomnia, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, Autism, sensory disorders, PTSD, depression, and so much more.

dual-sided

Kathy has a talent for pairing fabrics, usually coordinating three different patterns for both sides of the blanket as well as the binding.  Each blanket is beautiful and personal to its user!

The concept behind weighted blankets is simple yet effective: beads sewn inside the blankets add a pleasant weight that feels similar to receiving a firm hug, which has been shown to release neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine.  Because of this, the light pressure provided by the weighted blankets increases feelings of security and comfort to its user, which makes weighted blankets an amazing resource for those with any range of anxiety or depression.

Tillman

Weighted blankets aren’t just for humans!  Our canine friend Tilman has always been terrified of storms and fireworks, but he was relaxed and calm with his weighted blanket on him.

Weighted blankets are not a tool exclusively meant for those with significant emotional or physical ailments, though.  I’ve been using my own weighted blanket for years; during school,  I found that wrapping my weighted blanket around my shoulders helped me to remain calm and concentrated while working on school, or simply unwinding at the end of a stressful day.  The weight of my blanket also feels extremely comfortable to me when I go to bed, and now I find that I have trouble falling asleep if I don’t have it!

blanket variety

Beyond the personalized colors and patterns, each blanket can have a customized weight, though most adults (under 200 lbs) find that 7-8 lbs is ideal.

My mother, Kathy, experimented with making a weighted blanket for herself a couple years ago to help her learn to sleep on her back and to relieve her restless leg syndrome.  As she continued to do more and more research, she discovered the huge scope of benefits behind weighted blankets, and several people approached her asking for weighted blankets of their own.  Now, she delights in making a one-of-a-kind, beautifully crafted product for each of her customers, using personalized fabrics and a weight that perfectly suits the needs of the user.

twiddle pad

Several elementary school teachers have taken advantage of Kathy’s Twiddle Pads to occupy fidgety students.  These are helpful for keeping children occupied during church, as well!

Besides weighted blankets, Kathy also makes weighted vests that can be worn by anxious children, “fidget pads” to keep tiny hands busy and to teach fine motor skills (lightly weighed, 1.5 lbs), “twiddle pads” (lightly weighted pads with simple interactive features; these have been useful for dementia patients), as well as mastectomy recovery pillows (non-weighted).  Kathy also frequently accepts custom orders so that she can meet unique needs and requests of those who would benefit from a weighted comfort.

Mama

My darling Mama–she loves to sew, and she loves designing blankets for people.

For me, the mission behind Casting Cares reflects my sweet mama so well: to provide comfort and service for people, whether they suffer from debilitating anxiety or simply want a better night’s rest.  And what’s more, you receive a high-quality, personalized product that not only meets your needs but reflects your personality.  You can shop for your own Casting Cares product either at Kathy’s website, her new Etsy shop, or follow her on Instagram and Facebook!

Blog Search Challenge

I was writing a letter earlier this week to a friend who recently started up a blog.  She felt daunted by the task of creating an original blog with regularly posted, gripping content that would actually garner a faithful readership.  I responded to her letter with what I hope were encouraging words, but I also just had to acknowledge that, yeah, creating a successful blog is no walk in the park!

If you’ve followed Ivy&Branch for a while, you’ll already recognize that this is a drift from my  normal content, but I felt like giving some attention to entrepreneurs who, in a way, create their own “small business” product through blogging.  As a blogger myself, I can testify that creating a website or blog with any dreams of a larger readership can be exhausting–and, many times, discouraging.

I officially began Ivy&Branch in February, posting weekly (with a few exceptions) with a new artist interview or topic post, and hoping that my featured artists and their followers might share the blog to create larger exposure.  And yet, even with that participation, blog growth is a very slow process.  Most successful bloggers admit that it takes upwards of a year just to get your blog off the ground, much less earn any profit from it.

With that in mind, I wanted to add a new element to Ivy&Branch.  So far, my project with this blog has been to lend support and exposure to as many excellent artists and small businesses as I can so that these entrepreneurs can receive the business and recognition that they deserve.

I’d like to expand that goal to highlighting blogs that exhibit intentional, engaging, and creative content.  By drawing attention to these blogs, I hope that readers will not only stimulate a habit of reading intelligent content on a daily basis, but also reward the writers behind blogs who work hard to plan, produce, and promote their content.

So, if you follow a blog (of virtually any variety, as long as the site is attended to regularly and produces appropriate content) that you would like to see receive more recognition, let me know!  You can message me on my social media platforms, or directly through this site.  I’ll post on social media regularly with calls for recommendations, and I’ll promote referrals through Ivy&Branch!

Bottom line is this: whether you run a store, an online business, or create content to edify and enrich others, then you put in a lot of work just to (perhaps) get small recognition.  Through Ivy&Branch, I would love to change that and do what I can to direct traffic your way, so that your efforts can be discovered and enjoyed.  Please join me in this mission!

The Vintage Home Studio – That Extra Touch

I have loved my interviews with each of my featured artists, but I walked away from my talk with The Vintage Home Studio with a special fondness for Michelle Gann, the founder and craftswoman behind this self-started business.  The Vintage Home Studio’s tea towels and other home decor items caught my eye several months ago, but speaking with Michelle left me with an even deeper admiration for her work and the dedication behind The Vintage Home Studio.

rolling pin

I love the colors and patterns that Michelle pairs in her towels.

One of Michelle’s first major sewing projects was making her own prom dress back in high school, and from there she fell in love with the creative joy of sewing.  In more recent years, when Michelle began pondering ideas for running her own business, hand-sewn items were a natural choice, though it took some brainstorming to create a product that would stand apart as something special.

pillow case

Though tea towels are her staple product now, Michelle still sells her handmade pillow cases, and for good reason–they’re beautiful!

At first, Michelle began by making colorful pillow cases, and while she still makes and sells these items, she soon discovered that the market for pillow cases was over-saturated.  From there, Michelle began to think about tea towels: a creative blank canvas that was both charming and functional…supposedly.

“Growing up, there were certain towels that were decorative and you were barely allowed to touch. I didn’t want that at all…I wanted to create something that people were going to use. My motto for my towels has always been: Fun, Functional, Washable, Meant to Be Used!” – Michelle Gann

The concept is clean-cut: a pristine white towel with a border of colorful fabric and a crochet trim.  But once you see one of The Vintage Home Studio’s towels, you’ll understand why Michelle’s products charm so many!  The playful colors and tasteful details of Michelle’s towels add just the right decorative touch or seasonal spark to a table setting or kitchen.

peachy towel

The scalloped crocheted edge is such a small detail, but it’s what has made The Vintage Home Studio’s towels become so iconic and popular.

Michelle’s others-focused, intensely supportive attitude exudes in the way she talks, and I was struck by her humility as well as her stalwart mission to support other makers.  The Vintage Home Studio was not an overnight success; Michelle began her business in 2008, but it’s only been in recent years that she’s been deservedly noticed.  Because of this, Michelle repeatedly emphasized the importance of persistence and community for those trying to make it in the small business world.

easter towels

Michelle stocks lots of seasonal towels to add that extra-festive touch during the holidays.  These Easter towels are bright and fun.

The Vintage Home Studio now has a large and devoted group of followers on Instagram, and Michelle’s customers find beautiful and playful new ways to incorporate her tea towels.  Running her small business keeps Michelle hopping all day long–sometimes late into the night, too!–but she has aspirations for expanding her products to other household and functional goods.  For Michelle’s beautiful craftsmanship as well as her positive attitude, The Vintage Home Studio is a joy to follow and support.

The Lazy Goat – Riverside Dining

I make no claims to be a food writer–I’m not good at taking fancy food photos, I’m not a wine connoisseur, and I have no professional training–but I DO love food and love sharing great restaurants!  Which is why, on the heels of my last post that was primarily discussing restaurants in Charleston, I want to share my favorite Greenville restaurant: The Lazy Goat.

the lazy goat dining

The sunny windows combined with the tabletop candlelight, plus the mismatched wooden chairs, all make The Lazy Goat both elegant and playful.

I’ve tried many items off The Lazy Goat’s menu over the years…the crispy Brussels sprouts with Serrano ham, which will radically change your opinion of sprouts; the Moroccan lamb, deeply earthy and swirled with cool yogurt sauce; the “Lazy Paella,” a piled mound of chicken and seafood over fragrant rice; not to mention their constantly rotating seasonal dishes, which include mouth-watering desserts such as Mexican hot chocolate ice cream with churros (spicy ice cream with crispy doughnut sticks…it’ll knock your socks off) and a lemon-berry cake that tastes of pure summer.

sangria

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve even tasted alcohol, but on my birthday I splurged on a white wine sangria, made with grapefruit juice and Triple Sec.  It was a taste of summer!

Knowing how much I love The Lazy Goat, my husband treated me to a birthday dinner there this past Friday, and I could not have asked for a more enjoyable gift.  My favorite thing at The Lazy Goat is actually an appetizer, and one they’re famous for–fried goat cheese balls, drizzled with vanilla honey and sprinkled with bits of pistachios.  Naturally, we started off with this delicacy, followed by the “Duck, Duck, Goat” pizza.

goat cheese

I could eat these fried goat cheese balls for the rest of my life and never tire of them.  Absolutely addictive.

If, like in my description of the gourmet hamburger at Cru Cafe in Charleston, you think that pizza is a humble choice for a classy restaurant–allow The Lazy Goat to change your mind completely!  The Duck, Duck, Goat pizza–with duck confit, goat cheese, arugula, caramelized onions, and a sour-cherry reduction–has incredible, flavorful finesse all presented in the familiar vehicle we all know and love: pizza.  Each bite was mouthwatering, with a perfectly crispy, chewy crust.

duck duck goat

This is why I could never be a real food writer…I always dig into the food before remembering I’m supposed to take a photo.  The Duck, Duck, Goat pizza was incredible.

The Lazy Goat’s menu items all lean strongly toward Spanish-inspired cuisine (such as their “Graze and Nibble” dishes, which are similar to Spanish tapas), as well as flavors all along the Mediterranean.  In addition to their beautiful and exotic food, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more lovely atmosphere.  Built right alongside the Reedy River, the large windowed walls of The Lazy Goat give you countless views of the beautiful river, as well as pleasant outdoor dining options.

Convinced yet?  Personally, I think the fried goat cheese on its own is reason enough to head over to The Lazy Goat…but don’t take my word for it!  Hop on over and experience an unforgettable meal.

Charleston – A Small Taste

Contrary to popular opinion, I have not abandoned Ivy&Branch–instead, I’ve been savoring my time as a newlywed as Benjamin and I begin our “normal” lives together.  It’s been a blissful few weeks, but I’m glad to be somewhat reentering a routine.  I’m in the process of gathering new ideas for the blog, and there’s certainly plenty to discover here in Greenville!  In the meantime, I wanted to share some of the excellent places Benjamin and I discovered on our honeymoon in Charleston, SC.  While we’re not seasoned locals (or even cultured tourists), we did stumble across some phenomenal eateries and small businesses!

Wild Olive (John’s Island) – Fantastic Italian

After an afternoon touring the Charleston Tea Plantation (possibly our favorite tourist stop…a wonderful place to explore if you’re tea fanatics like us), we had a roaring appetite, and Wild Olive not only delighted us with wonderful food but a romantic, seaside cottage-like environment.  We enjoyed some scrumptious charred octopus as a starter, followed by a grilled swordfish entree: both provided all the fresh seafood taste that could be desired.  By far, however, the highlight of our meal was (of all things), the side dish: “smashed fried potatoes with truffled aioli, scallion, and Parmesan.”  Both Benjamin and I can say this with total confidence: those potatoes were the most luxurious, close-your-eyes delectable potatoes we have ever tasted.  SERIOUSLY–you have got to try them.

wild olive

Took a picture of my handsome hubby instead of the food…eh, can you blame me? (But you get a tiny glimpse of the warm charm of Wild Olive).

Cru Cafe – A Special Gift

This restaurant was particularly special to me because my Uncle Tom-Tom (who personally knows Cru Cafe’s owner) arranged for our lunch there and had us treated like royalty.  Sitting down in Cru is like sitting down in someone’s house (not surprising, as the restaurant is actually a converted home).  The environment is casual yet offers some truly exceptional food that you’d expect to find at a swanky bistro.

Before Benjamin and I had even ordered, the waitress brought out a platter of fried oysters (courtesy of my uncle), which we devoured in a matter of seconds.  From there, I ordered the Asian-glazed salmon with a pear and pine nut salad, and Benjamin ordered their specialty burger–and if you’re thinking a burger is a low-brow item, you’d be totally wrong.  Not only was this burger cooked to perfection, but was layered with maple-glazed pork belly, goat cheese, and sauteed mushrooms…and did I mention the truffle Parmesan fries that came with it??

flourless chocolate cake

Even my crummy iPhone photo couldn’t make this flourless chocolate cake look less delectable!

We were more than delighted with our entrees, but as soon as the waitress took our plates away she told us to hang tight as a special dessert was on its way.  A minute later and she came sweeping in with a flourless chocolate cake with raspberry sauce and fresh whipped cream–another surprise from my uncle, who knows I’m crazy about chocolate and raspberry together.  I’m not saying I hogged that dessert…but it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that Benjamin did not get many bites out of it.  Uncle Tom–THANK YOU!

Blue Bicycle Books – For the Literary Soul

If you’ve been to Charleston and love books, you’ve probably managed to sniff out Blue Bicycle Books.  Having a mutual affection for used book stores, Benjamin and I navigated our way to this bookish hideaway and were not disappointed.   Browsing through the many shelves of books (used, rare, and local) was wonderfully relaxing, not to mention a great way to escape the Charleston heat that afternoon!

blue bicycle

There are all sorts of cozy alcoves and reading rooms at Blue Bicycle Books.

Circa 1886 – A Final Meal to Remember

During our last night in Charleston, Benjamin made reservations for a truly special restaurant–Circa 1886, a beautiful restaurant built into an old carriage house and acclaimed by multiple culinary magazines.  We got dolled up for the occasion, and as soon as we pulled up to the restaurant I knew we were in for a treat.

sea bass

My entree: sea bass with prosciutto, zucchini noodles, and Parmesan bubbles.

As we perused the menu, we were brought multiple “teasers”–not quite appetizers, but small bites of food that were, arguably, my favorite part of the whole meal.  We had warm rolls with orange-oil butter, a spoonful (literally) of herbed goat cheese with radish, and an espresso-cup of roasted vegetable soup with truffle oil (I could have eaten a bowlful of this and been more than satisfied).

antelope

Benjamin ordered the antelope with roasted vegetables and key-lime grits, along with mango sauce and coconut milk emulsion.  Sounds exotic, but it’s probably one of the best entrees I’ve ever tasted.

We were both more than wowed by our entrees–I went with seafood, he went for the red meat, and we enjoyed stealing tastes of both.  Not only was the taste exquisite, but the plating was just beautiful.  We had ordered the peach souffle for dessert, but we were in no way expecting the masterpiece that was brought out.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that souffle–with peach creme anglaise, crunchy streusel, and brown sugar ice cream–was probably the best dessert I’ve ever ordered.  It was absolutely delectable…and the complementary champagne didn’t hurt, either!

peach souffle

A truly special end to a phenomenal meal, and great way to finish off our honeymoon.

Can’t Wait to Return!

All in all, we had the time of our lives in Charleston.  It was Benjamin’s first time in the city, and I loved getting to experience it afresh through his eyes.  My grandmother was incredibly generous to us and paid for our accommodations at the Lodge Alley Inn, which was only a block from the Waterfront Park and just down the street from the market.  Needless to say, we stayed in a prime location and were able to enjoy just walking around the prettiest parts of the city.  For myself, however, I think the food just might have been the highlight, and I’d love to return (soon!) to experience it all over again.

A Gilded Line – Wearable Truth

As a writer, I’m a long-standing believer that words have a huge impact on humans day in and day out.  What you read and repeat to yourself can drastically shape your attitudes and convictions, which is why Allie Pust’s shop A Gilded Line offers an incredible medium for both truth and beauty.

Allie began stamping bracelets as she helped her eldest daughter raise money for a field trip, but friends and family continued to request personalized cuffs long after the mother-daughter pair had reached their fundraising goal.   It didn’t take long for Allie to recognize the incredible potential of the bracelets to spread truth (namely Scripture) simply by wearing the personalized cuffs.

Cuffs shot

I love the variety of widths, colors, and fonts of Allie’s bracelets, and how great they look paired together.  You can even add a trendy tassel to your cuff!

I discovered A Gilded Line when I was searching for bridesmaids gifts for my girls; I wanted to stray from the current fads, yet still present them with something meaningful and personalized.  I had Allie stamp words from my bridesmaids’ favorite hymns on their bracelets, and they turned out beautifully.  Allie has an ever-growing list of customization options, from different metals and widths, as well as a variety of beautiful fonts.  She also makes bookmarks, key chains, and luggage tags that can also be personalized!

Allie and daughter

Allie with her “business partner” (aka, eldest daughter Lexie).  Family businesses are definitely my favorite businesses of all!

A Gilded Line is a real passion for Allie.  Speaking with her, I was struck by her bubbly and outgoing personality–she loves people and she loves sharing the gospel.  Allie shared that she will approach just about anybody in order to share the love of Christ and often offer to give away whatever bracelet she’s wearing on that day.  I so respect her courage and vivacity as a go-getter, and I believe this combined with God’s grace is what has made A Gilded Line grow exponentially since Allie first opened her Etsy shop last January.

unfinished cuffs

There are so many options to make each bracelet unique and meaningful at A Gilded Line.

The bracelets are functional and easy to wear; the metal is pliable, so it’s easy to adjust to the width of your wrist.  They’re a perfect vehicle for reminding yourself of important truths–much like looking at a watch, you find yourself glancing at the cuff multiple times a day, which makes it easy to remember whatever special words are printed there.

“I’ve never doubted that it’s an affordable way for people to see a truth daily when they need to stay encouraged.  It’s an awesome way to wear words of truth and tell others about it.  I think it’s a great way to break the ice.  I love seeing people talk about why they’re wearing what they’re wearing.” -Allie Pust

assorted bracelets

Whether you’re making a fashion statement or quoting a portion of Scripture: Allie’s got you covered.

One of Allie’s favorite things to do with A Gilded Line is to join forces with those fighting cancer or some other hardship, using the bracelets for a fundraiser.  The cuffs are a wearable way to keep a loved one in mind, a way to spread a slogan, and a reminder to pray for those in need.  Allie hopes that A Gilded Line will continue to grow so that she can do more and more of these fundraisers.

The concept behind A Gilded Line is simple–metal cuffs printed with words–but they have a potent impact, whether its keeping its wearer grounded in truth or spreading support for someone in need.  Check out A Gilded Line on Facebook, Instagram, or Etsy!

Mother’s Day Gifts – Four Unique Ideas

Are you finding yourself running a little behind on purchasing a special gift for good ole’ Mom?  You’re not alone (I’m not just saying that…seriously, I have been putting off Mother’s Day shopping for a solid two weeks now).  I have some awesome, one-of-a-kind gift ideas to show you that come from previous Ivy&Branch featured shops!  Check out these top-notch Mother’s Day products, and be sure to look closely for the promo codes included for each shop!

Mama Bear Necklace by The Artful Sojourn:

Mama Bear necklace

If you use the code “ivyandbranch” on a The Artful Sojourn order over $25, you’ll get $5 off your purchase!

This brass necklace would make the perfect accessory for a mama who wants to be chic yet functional.  I have a soft spot for this piece, as the hand-stamped “Mama Bear” on the bar makes me think of one of my favorite nicknames for my own mother.  Furthermore, you can customize the necklace with birthstone charms that correspond to all your Mama Bear’s children–a sweet and subtle touch that is sure to please your detail-oriented and fashionable Mama Bear.

Each Mama Bear necklace will come beautifully wrapped in a darling drawstring bag–and don’t forget that 20% of ALL The Artful Sojourn products goes directly to Big World Project, an organization that rescues orphaned children in India.  The donation card included with the necklace is sure to be as meaningful to your mother as the necklace itself.

Read my full interview with The Artful Sojourn here!

Mother’s Day print by Grace Under Pressure:

Mother's day print

Use the code “IvyandBranch” in the Grace Under Pressure shop for free shipping on your order!

Does your mom have an eye for art?  For the calligraphy-loving, beauty-seeking, elegance-filled mother, nothing could be more tasteful than this Mother print from Grace Under Pressure.  The print is filled with both touching and playful words associated with motherhood, featuring everything from maternal virtues to fun nicknames.  When placed in a pretty frame and displayed on a desk or beside a favorite reading chair, this would be a well-cherished gift for a thoughtful mother.

Read my full interview with Grace Under Pressure here!

Essential Oil case by Cotton and Cursive:

Oil bag

For Cotton and Cursive, “IVYANDBRANCH” will give you 10% off your order through all of May!

If your mom has caught the essential oil craze, then she doubtlessly carries a few bottles of her favorite oils with her wherever she goes.  Instead of having the bottles clinking around loose in her purse, give her this precious essential oil bag from Cotton and Cursive.  Not only is this little bag absolutely beautiful, but it’s quilted to protect the essential oil bottles.  These bags can be customized to fit different sizes–this little beauty will fit five essential oil bottles at a 5ml size, but Rachel makes others that fit 15ml bottles and roller-top bottles.  This would make the perfect gift for a mama who loves both fashion and function (and holistic health!)

Read my full interview with Cotton and Cursive here!

Woodburned Spoons by Being Sara Dixon:

spoons

You can get a hefty 20% discount on your Being Sara Dixon order with the code “ivybranch“!

For the culinary mom, these gorgeous woodburnt spoons by Being Sara Dixon are absolutely perfect.  Each spoon is woodburnt by hand with a unique design, so not only are they functional, but they’re a fun way to spice up your mom’s utensil drawer.  Or, better yet, take Sara’s suggestion and display them in a snazzy vase as shown in this photo!  They are simultaneously the perfect kitchen tool as well as an elegant decorative accent–your mom will love them.

Read my full interview with Being Sara Dixon here!

Whatever gift you end up buying for your mother, be sure to make her feel precious and loved.  Pull together a nice meal, round up all your siblings, and create a real tribute to the amazing woman who raises you, sacrifices for you, and is always ready with a piece of advice and a warm hug.  Happy shopping, and happy Mother’s Day!

 

Oak Leaf Pottery – The Elegance of Rusticware

I’m always excited to introduce a new kind of shop on Ivy&Branch, and I couldn’t be happier to introduce Oak Leaf Pottery as the first ceramics shop on the blog.  I first encountered Oak Leaf Pottery through my friend Sarah Collins (co-founder of Modern Forestry Candles–reread my post on them here).  Sarah is good friends with Allison Gross, the potter behind Oak Leaf Pottery, and I had the chance to see Allison’s work at Modern Forestry’s “Forestry Friday” event in early April.

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I love the earthy tones on these mugs and plates–characteristic colors used in Allison’s work.

Allison began to fall in love with ceramics during college, and she graduated with a degree in art education.  She taught art for several years, but when she and her husband moved to South Carolina three years ago, she began to think seriously about doing ceramics full-time.  Today, she has her own home studio and runs Oak Leaf Pottery as her full time job.

While interviewing Allison, I was blown away by her powerful work ethic and the sheer magnitude of responsibilities she has day in and day out.  Not only does Allison run Oak Leaf Pottery, but she’s also a stay-at-home mom for her eight-month-old son, Levi. Balancing work with motherhood is no small challenge, but Allison has managed to tend to both with dedication and lots of love.  She works around Levi’s sleep schedule and manages her tasks with the help of her husband, Dan.

The Grosses

Dan and Allison Gross with their precious baby boy, Levi.

Despite the hectic aspect of being  a full-time wife, mother, and working woman all at once, Allison expressed the serenity she experiences when creating pottery.  Her favorite process is forming the clay on the wheel and shaping it into a piece that will be a functional and cherished ceramic in someone’s home.

“I think that people are drawn to pottery…each potter has their own style.  No two potters are alike.  People like to find their favorite style and then they sort of stick with you.  Potters are earthy and welcoming and there’s a parallel between them and their work.  It’s really important to have a connection with people.” -Allison Gross

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These vases showcase the breathtaking “wood streaking” stain that Allison uses, not to mention the incredible carving and hints of color.

While no two potters are the same, Allison also shared that, as a potter, you have to spend a lot of time brainstorming in order to create your own distinctive “look” in order to stand apart.  After experimenting for a couple of years, Allison achieved the signature style that is iconic of Oak Leaf Pottery: by applying red iron oxide to white clay, Allison achieves a beautifully unique wood-like stain to her ceramics.  Along with the characteristic stain, Allison loves to experiment with stamping and carving her works, another rustic detail that sets her work apart.

Fairy houses

I can’t get over these precious “fairy houses” that Allison makes with leftover clay scraps. They would be adorable nestled in a backyard garden.

Allison makes multiple different pieces to sell, though some of her favorites include teapots and her lovable “fairy houses.”  She also makes ceramic jewelry and does a lot of wholesale work, oftentimes throwing upwards of fifty mugs in one night.  Allison is certainly an exceptionally hard-working woman, dedicated to both her art and her family.  Follow Oak Leaf Pottery on Instagram and Facebook, and you’ll see for yourself the incredible drive of this family-run business, as well as the distinctive elegance of Allison’s ceramics.