Brandi Couvillion tells a story of New Orleans in her contemporary and historically inspired jewelry.
The artist & background: A New Orleans native, Couvillion graduated from Tulane University and studied woodworking and jewelry at the Penland School of Crafts (NC). While working as the CFO of a non-profit historic preservation center in New Orleans for six years, she was involved in a 10-year restoration of a Victorian-era home in the Lower Garden District. The project further fueled her passion for the city, maps and historic architecture and inspired her mixed media art and jewelry.
The company & goods: Brandi Couvillion started in 2005 in New Orleans. Her jewelry work, comprising metal etchings of historic New Orleans maps culled from archives, includes bracelets, earring and necklaces.
The process: To create her pieces, Couvillion begins with raw sheets of metal and uses an intensive, handcrafted process involving heat image transfers, various etchants, patinas and polishes, as well as hammer forming.
What’s popular: The Nine Muses Cuff Bracelet and the Bayou St. John Cuff Bracelet (the map is from 1880) range from $160 to $325, depending on the metal (brass, copper or sterling silver) and amount of detail in the piece.
Other favorites: The Mississippi River Cuff Bracelet (from Baton Rouge to New Orleans and out through the delta in 1863). Prices range from $175 to $350
Where to buy: www.Bcouvillion.com
Cindy Leaders became obsessed with handmade books in 2006. Ten years and more than 4,000 journals and books later, the Georgia artist says it is the best job she has ever had.
The artist: Leaders stumbled upon the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC, and attended a week-long class in bookbinding and fell in love with the process.
The company: Toccoa-based Free Range Bookbinding started on a whim as Useful Books in 2007. It produces handmade personalized journals and special-occasion books using maps and unexpected materials, like manila envelopes and index cards
What’s popular: Versatile travel journal with pockets and envelopes ($45). Also, two other travel journals for longer trips with pockets, envelopes and an expandable spine ($75 to $110). All travel journals can be personalized with maps to reflect the customer’s personal travels, as well as names, dates and short phrases.
Other favorites: Wedding photo guest books ($90 to $160) and a variety of photo albums and scrapbooks ($22 to $170).
Where to buy: www.FreeRangeBookbinding.com
North Carolina artist and architect Karen M. O’Leary creates modern city maps with an x-acto knife or pen.
The artist & owner: Born in Seoul, South Korea, O’Leary grew up in Pennsylvania She graduated with a degree in architecture from Virginia Tech, where she first made a hand-cut map as part of her fifth year architecture thesis. After graduation, while working in New York City, she made a hand-cut map for herself. It was six feet by eight feet and took nine months to complete. In 2009, she listed the NYC map on etsy.com, sold it — and unintentionally started a business.
The company: Studio KMO, based in Charlotte, started in 2009 and sells custom maps of favorite cities and places. It offers three collections: handcrafted maps of any city or location, ink drawings, and city-pressed prints.
The hand-cut process: Once ordered, the paper maps are hand-cut, block by block . Cutting them by hand allows O’Leary the opportunity to design and customize each one.
What’s popular: The 10-inch by 10-inch original maps ($125 to $175). Some of the most requested cities include: Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, New York City and Paris.
Other favorites: City-pressed prints, the newest collection ($36 per city).
Most time-consuming city map cut: London. The blocks are irregular and dense, unlike any other.
Big break: Featured in Oprah’s O Magazine (2014) and a 2016 finalist in Garden & Gun magazine’s “Made in the South Awards.”
Where to buy: www.StudioKMO.etsy.com
While writing fiction in the 1990s, Virginia native Nelms Creekmur worked as a stevedore, a shrimp boat fisherman in Florida and a stone mason in Vermont. His love of manual labor, especially swinging a hammer, drew him to blacksmithing, as he says, at the sweet age of 44.
The artist & company: Creekmur, a University of Virginia grad, started Nelms Creekmur Forge in Atlanta’s Lake Claire neighborhood in early 2011.
What’s popular: Bottle openers crafted from Atlanta Beltline reclaimed railroad spikes ($39).
Other favorites: Harpoon fire poker ($85 to $125) and a European fire box ($850 to $1,250). The boxes burn a beautiful fire while adding a sculptural/architectural element to your home and backyard.
Fun (or) unusual request: A seven-foot, 25-pound trident fire poker with a harpoon on the back end for pushing around large burning stumps at bonfires.
Big break: Metalwork commissioned for The Albert bar and restaurant in Atlanta’s Inman Park (www.thealbertatlanta.com).
Claim to Fame: Invited to exhibit work and hammering skills at the opening and closing ceremonies for the “Go West” exhibit a few years ago at the High Museum of Art.
Where to buy: www.nelmscreekmurforge.com. In the Atlanta area, at The Collective at the Krog Street Market (the collectiveatl.com) and at Creekmur’s shop. For information, contact (404) 402-5029, or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Shirley Beaudin and Meredith Limoges are a mother-daughter team who create timeless bags with spot-on style.
The company: Georgia-based Beaudin started in 2012. The company produces leather and cowhide handbags and accessories, including tassels, wallets and bowties.
Doing good: A portion of every purchase goes to Atlanta-based Out of Darkness to help fight sex slavery and trafficking.
What’s popular: Easygoing totes ($150 to $160) and tassel purse charms ($18 to $45).
Other favorites: Hair-on-hide collection, ranging from cowhide wallets ($20) to totes ($350).
Fun request: Make a tote from a hide brought back from a couple’s trip to Africa.
Big break: Included in The Biltmore Estate’s new Barn Door Boutique in Asheville.
What’s new: Jaguar and gold-speckled hair-on-hide cross body bags ($120).
Where to buy: www.beaudindesigns.com. In the Atlanta area, at Willows Gift Shoppe, 1810 Cumming Highway in Canton, and Honey Butter, 625 W. Crossville Road, in Roswell.
Nashville-based Hester & Cook, founded by Robbie and Angie Hester Cook, designs a collection of elegant and whimsical paper placemats and table runners for all seasons and occasions.
Tear-off placemats ($27 to $29) in popular themes include: Tennessee artist Vicki Sawyer’s animal paintings and holiday designs (pictured above).
Table runners ($25 to $28), which include gold confetti, stripes and touchdown paper, can be cut to fit the length of any table top. Visit hesterandcook.com
Daniel Liberson once worked as a cook in fine dining restaurants in New York, Maryland and North Carolina.
Now he is the owner and self-described vinegar geek of Virginia-based Lindera Farms, which produces artisanal vinegars used and praised by chefs across the country.
Best sellers include Ramp, Strawberry, Wild Rose and Spicebush. But Honey is a fan favorite.