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!

Milltown Leather – Heart for the Community

It’s a special thing when a couple of creatives collaborate in order to breathe life into a vision, and that’s exactly what Isaac Morris and Taylor Henry are doing with Milltown Leather.  Not only are Isaac and Taylor craftsmen of high-quality leather goods, but they’re also deeply invested in building their community.

Isaac began to formulate ideas for a leather goods business in 2015 as his love for genuine leather began to grow beyond just a general interest.  He started off with an inexpensive tool set and a bit of leather for experimentation, watching YouTube videos and reading books on hand stitching to build his skill.  By spring of 2016, Isaac had approached his good friend Taylor asking him to partner in creating Milltown Leather, and from there the duo’s creativity and production has only increased.

card-wallet

I love the texture and different colors that show up on this card wallet, not to mention the beautiful stamped logo.

Something I loved about my interview with Milltown Leather was the passion that Taylor and Isaac had for their community.  Both guys are actively involved with The Lot Project, an organization here in Anderson, SC that ministers to struggling members in the community.  Isaac and Taylor spoke with as much passion about The Lot Project as their own business, which I found to be a wonderful expression of their heart for community.

ellison-wallet

Milltown Leather’s Ellison wallet: elegant, clean lines, cut and stitched by hand.

Taylor and Isaac shared their excitement for linking Milltown Leather to an up-and-coming development through The Lot Project called Maker’s Space. Maker’s Space will be a ministry where homeless, jobless, or struggling community members can learn entrepreneurial skills in order to build knowledge and create income possibilities.  Isaac and Taylor are preparing to contribute to Maker’s Space by teaching workshops on leather working, pouring into their community by sharing their skills.  Keep an eye on The Lot Project’s website for when Maker’s Space is launched (projected for summer 2017!)

taylor-and-isaac

Taylor (left) and Isaac (right) are intentional craftsmen, but they’re also two genuinely heartfelt guys with a drive to help their community.

Milltown Leather puts a lot of time, concentration, and craftsmanship into their products, and the quality of their work is exemplary.  If you’ve never handled real leather (as opposed to the waxy, flaky material most “leather” products are made from), then you’re missing something special.  The look, feel, and smell of genuine leather are all distinctive.  Isaac and Taylor were both full of smiles as they described leather and how it develops its own shape, color, and character the more you use it.  These guys really know their leather!

“I think both of us kind of fell in love with the idea of just sitting down with the leather and making what you want out of it.  For me, it’s therapeutic sitting down and going through each step till you have a product that will age and gain character as you do.” -Isaac Morris

hand-stitching

Isaac and Taylor hand stitch each of their products, and the final result looks pristine.

There’s a lot of exciting things revolving around Milltown Leather and the ministry that Taylor and Isaac are developing.  Their vision of creating a bridge between the privileged and the underprivileged through Milltown Leather and Maker’s Space is an immense inspiration for both crafters and those seeking to minister to their community.

Isaac and Taylor are building toward an Etsy shop, but in the meantime Milltown Leather is  very accessible through Facebook and Instagram.  Treat yourself to a hand-stitched wallet or leather journal, and take a leaf out of Milltown Leather’s book by finding ways to pour into your community.