Student Artisans – A Discovery Worth Making

Probably my favorite thing about running Ivy&Branch is discovering great new shops and the creations of talented makers, which is why the Andie Craft Fair at Anderson University was such a treat for me.  AU only launched this event for the first time last semester around Christmastime, but it was so wildly popular that they’ve hosted it again this spring.  As a small but prestigious School of the Arts, Anderson University has plenty of reason to show off their talented, artistic students and the beautiful creations they make.

Paper beads

These handmade paper beads (Anna Tabor Jewelry) are mesmerizing. There were several gorgeous pre-made necklaces available, or you had the option to make one yourself.

Andie Craft Fair is an outlet for student artisans to showcase and sell their handmade wares, whether that’s art, jewelry, woven goods, or anything in-between.  Many of these products are the result of skills acquired in class, such as ceramics and photography.  Others are the product of long-practiced hobbies that have been transformed into marketable goods.

Milltown leather table

Hey there, Milltown Leather! They had some beautiful new products to present.

In college, when funds are notoriously short, it is so important for students to be given resources for using their incredible artistic skills to make a profit.  Last semester, at the first Andie Craft Fair, several of my friends said they were able to make a few hundred bucks off of their sales–that goes a LONG way for a college student!

Madi's table

One of my Interior Design friend makes very chic jewelry, prints, and hand-stamped canvases made into pillows, bags, and wall art. I’m begging her to open an Etsy shop!

Andie Craft Fair–and similar student markets you may very well find at other universities–are far from half-baked events with trinkets for sale.  These students churn out beautiful, carefully-crafted goods that are a credit to their skill.  Here’s hoping that Anderson University keeps up this fun and beneficial event, supporting their talented students and providing an excellent shopping outlet for everyone involved!

Shelby's table

My good friend Shelby is a prodigious jewelry maker–her table was very popular!

The Artful Sojourn – Jewelry with an Impact

Lisa Gum, founder and designer of The Artful Sojourn, does more than make beautiful jewelry: she’s a visionary with a mission to relieve the suffering of impoverished children in India, and she does this all the way from her home in Virginia.  The story and passion behind Lisa’s business is well worth learning about (and supporting!)

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The Artful Sojourn founder & desinger, Lisa Gum: a lovely creative who makes lovely things (check out the sweet little choker necklace she’s wearing!) Photo credits: Hilary Hyland Photography

I met Lisa two years ago at my (soon-to-be) sister-in-law’s wedding.  My fiance’s family has been close friends with the Gums for many years, and it only took a few minutes with Lisa and her family to feel like I’d known them my whole life, too.  Lisa has a gentle, heartwarming personality that immediately places one at ease, so it made total sense to me when I learned that her jewelry business, The Artful Sojourn, is partnered with Big World Project.

Etsy Favorite Message

Lisa feels a heavy burden to support needy children in India, and she makes a significant contribution through The Artful Sojourn.

Lisa began The Artful Sojourn just before starting college five years ago, making jewelry to raise funds for a mission trip.  Lisa quickly realized how much she enjoyed working with her hands and began to develop The Artful Sojourn as a business, while at the same time searching for a missions-focused charity that she could support with her profits.  One Sunday, the founder of Big World Project came to deliver a sermon at Lisa’s church, and she felt immediately that this was the ministry she wanted to support.

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Geometric shapes are a favorite design element in The Artful Sojourn. Photo credit: Gaudium Photography

The Artful Sojourn’s jewelry style has evolved since its beginning, reflecting Lisa’s taste and lifestyle over the years.  Lisa laughingly describes her style as “a little Bohemian,” but you’ll also find that her pieces are minimalistic, easy to wear, and highlight Lisa’s favorite natural elements like tumbled gemstones and hammered metal.

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This pendant necklace features a stunning coin of marble; a clean, sophisticated look that’s reflective of The Artful Sojourn’s aesthetic. 

As both an artist and a missionary, Lisa shared that she’s about to embark on “living the real sojourner life.”  During the fall of 2016, Lisa began to feel called to make a gutsy move: to buy a van, pack up her shop, and travel nationwide to participate in missions work and expand her range of craft shows.  Though Lisa is still searching for a van, she’s pursuing this vision full of faith, booking craft shows and making plans to leave her much-loved hometown.

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I love the subtle details in Lisa’s work, like the tiny blue gemstone in this knuckle ring. Photo credit: Hilary Hyland Photography

Lisa was able to take on The Artful Sojourn as her full time job back in 2016, so I asked her what she found to be the hardest part about running a small business.  Laughing, Lisa immediately responded that motivation is oftentimes the most difficult aspect.  Beginning a business is full of excitement, but not everything is glamorous, exciting, or immediately rewarding.  But Lisa was quick to add that she absolutely loves what she does, and finds motivation through faith:

“I think the biggest thing is continually remembering that this is not about me.  Every day, I’m giving The Artful Sojourn to the Lord and saying ‘Okay God, this is for you.  Whatever you want to do with this, it’s in your hands.’  That’s the biggest motivator and encourager.” -Lisa Gum

The Artful Sojourn brings an entire new meaning to jewelry that is both beautiful and functional; not only is Lisa’s jewelry conducive to an active lifestyle, but it’s functional in the sense that each piece of jewelry works toward rescuing children in need in India.  Follow her on Facebook and Instagram, and have fun browsing her beautiful jewelry through Etsy or her website!

Forestry Friday

Spring has sprung!  The Southeast seemed to skip winter altogether, but now plants are actually sprouting up, turning green, and blooming.  If you can ignore the pollen, spring is truly a beautiful time of year, made especially exciting by the advent of spring markets, festivals, and other local events.  I jumped into spring market season by attending Modern Forestry’s “Forestry Friday” event this past weekend, and I can’t resist sharing a little of my experience with you all!

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Modern Forestry had a “make your own candle” station set up.  My sister mixed up her own concoction and got to make a custom label.  Excellent fun!

After a VERY tedious day in the office on Friday, I was 100% ready when I got home to hop in the car with my sister, Savannah, and head out for a bit of weekend fun.  We had both been hearing about Forestry Friday for several weeks and were excited to meet new makers, sample some tasty food, and enjoy a time of relaxation.

Forestry Friday turned out to be a really enjoyable and laid-back event.  For those who may feel overwhelmed or intimidated by massive craft markets, Forestry Friday offers the perfect balance of variety and intimacy.  There were plenty of vendor tables to explore, but I was also able to pause, browse, and talk to different vendors without being jostled by a massive crowd.

Southern Bliss

Forestry Friday had all sorts of wonderful vendors set up.  Southern Bliss designs did custom wood-burning specialties on the spot!

The thing about seasonal markets, fairs, and events is that they’re truly there to serve the community.  They create an opportunity for makers/vendors to share their goods while also providing entertainment for everyone involved.  And yes, most makers have an online presence and you could easily view and order their wares through the internet; however, you can never beat actually interacting with the people behind the business and getting to view and handle their products in person.

Modern Forestry

Of course, we couldn’t resist digging around Modern Forestry’s sale basket. The Collins always seem to have such a blast working together (with baby Peter in tow!)

Furthermore, these types of events offer something tangible to place on your calendar and look forward to.  In this busy, bustling world, it’s well worth it to commit to a community event, gather up a band of friends, and make a memory.  I look forward to many Forestry Fridays in the future, along with the advent of all sorts of different festivals, markets, and fairs coming in the next few weeks.  Be sure to follow Modern Forestry on social media to keep up with more details about upcoming events!