I spent the part of my day enjoying small town magic near Charlotte, NC, where I live. My first stop was the Matthews Farmers Market. Today was opening day, and the energy and excitement was all around. Fresh herbs and vegetables, organic meats, savory muffins and sweets, handmade pottery, and even freshly made omelettes were available.
My next stop was Waxhaw, which has a small but vibrant chamber of commerce that supports artisans of all kinds. In this photo collage, you can see some of the highlights of my day. Descriptions of the people and products follow, along with location and contact information if you're ever in the area.
The Bead Merchants. The photo at far left is of one of the hundreds of racks of beads at The Bead Merchants. I have never seen so many beads in my life. Big, large, fancy, plain — and some very expensive. Lots of ladies in the bead shop are clearly hooked on beading, and they share their passion around a big beading table in the middle of the shop.
The Bead Merchants offers classes of all kinds, so if you're into beads and making your own jewelry, you can learn a lot here and get lots of beading fellowship.
Visit The Bead Merchants is located at 102 E South Main Street, Waxhaw, NC 28173. Phone: 704-843-5509
Kick ‘N Stitch. At his broom making shop, Mark Hernig makes brooms. He even has a broom showroom where you can choose a handmade broom for every type of room in your house. (Did you know that a different type of room is needed to sweep a kitchen than is needed to sweep a front porch?)
Mark's shop is filled with information about American broom making history, and the antique broom making machinery he owns and operates dates back to the 1880's.
The photograph of Mark was taken on my iPhone using the Hipstamatic app, Kaimal Mark II lens, BlackKeys B+W film, with the flash off.
Visit Mark at 106 E South Main Street, Waxhaw, NC 28173. Phone: 704-8292-5115.
Quench! Essentials. Of course I had to find some handmade soap! The soap in the collage is made by Catherine Alston of Quench! Essentials. Catherine makes cold process soaps of all kinds with essential oils and fresh herbs. As you can see, she displays the soaps in a row, along with cookie jars. Customers can open up the jars and get a whiff of their favorite yummy natural scent. I chose Lemongrass, my favorite shower aroma.
The photograph of Catherine's soap was taken on my iPhone using the Hipstamatic app, John S lens, Ina's 1969 film, with the flash off.
Catherine says she is still working on her website, so if you want some of her soaps, give her a call at 704-248-6605.
More beading. At The Bead Merchants, I met a lovely lady who was teaching a younger woman how to bead. This sweet scene is depicted in the photograph on the far right.
Displayed in the foreground are some of the beautiful Native American inspired beaded pouches the woman made. In some Native American traditions, beaded pouches were made by a mother to hold her newborn baby's umbilical cord. The pouch was then placed around the baby's neck with the umbilical cord inside to ward off diseases and evil spirits.
Today was a special and very relaxing day for me. I enjoyed learning new things and taking pictures of people doing what they love to do — supporting themselves by making and selling things they are personally passionate about. I'm so glad that this spirit of self-sufficiency and tenacity is alive and well, and clearly visible in the small town magic I witnessed today in Matthews, Waxhaw, and all across our nation.
Watching other people live out their passion enlivens my spirit and challenges me to continue to live out mine.
Question: How do the farmer's markets, artisans and local crafts merchants in your area inspire you?