"Southern Makers" Celebrates the Best of Alabama Homegrown & Handmade

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By Heather VacLav

Craftsmen, artists, chefs, farmers, designers and musicians. They are all right here in Alabama. This Saturday in Montgomery, Alabama's top talent will gather for a new one day event called Southern Makers.

Southern Makers celebrates the best of Alabama Homegrown and Handmade. Two Montgomery "makers" say it's designed to be more than supporting local, it's showing everyone what people are creating in the state.

 

"It's this mysterious creative force in Alabama that nobody has really known about, and lots of these folks are masters at what they do," said Montgomery woodworker, Ethan Sawyer.

Inside an industrial storage unit, Sawyer marks up and cuts salvaged lumber, creating furniture out of Alabama wood, that is left behind or otherwise thrown away.

"This house was built in the late 1800s, so you're already looking at 130 years of history right there," Sawyer said running his hands along the grained wood he snagged from a demolished house in Montgomery's Garden District.

Sawyer says his company, "Forest from A Tree" benefits more than the earth, "It benefits my business, it just makes economic sense, but then also from an artistic standpoint, I just think it's a beautiful material."

But the truth behind being a Southern Maker isn't about the tools you use to create, makers say, it's about the work of the hands.

"To me that's what's always been done in the South, people got down in the dirt and farmed and quilted and just created beauty," said designer Kelly Guthrie. 

Guthrie's company GEAR by Re-Invention repurposes recycled materials into home goods and accessories. Not only do the proceeds serve in helping homeless missions, but Guthrie hires people to help them get out of poverty.

"You're not only buying local, you're not only buying Alabama, but you are directly affecting somebody's life and being a part of something bigger than you are," Guthrie said.

Guthrie and Sawyer will have booths at Saturday's Southern Makers, and say it will open people's minds to supporting Alabama businesses.

"You can take pride in your state and you can take pride in people that do this," Sawyer said. "You don't have to feel like you have to go somewhere else. This is something that's in Alabama and it's something people here have a connection to."

Saturday visitors can not only meet about 100 of their favorite makers but get hands on experience with their work. They can enjoy tastings from renowned chefs using local ingredients, purchase handcrafted goods from favorite artisans and even learn to make beer with Montgomery Homebrew.

 

Southern Makers is May 4th from 2:00 until 7:00 p.m. at the Union Station Train Shed in Downtown Montgomery. Tickets cost cost $10 in advance $20 at the door. To purchase your ticket and learn more about the event visit Southern Makers.

 



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