By Kari Smith
May 17 – 23, 2021 is National Week of Making, an annual event created by the Nation of Makers to highlight our nation’s diverse makers and foster opportunities for people of all generations and races to create. The organization’s vision is to “build a society where everyone has access to the tools, technologies, experiences, and knowledge to make anything; to create a thriving, connected, and inclusive community of practice where collaboration fosters a culture of abundance.”
Lynchburg is well known and appreciated for its artisan and maker community, including the creative forces behind a variety of products ranging from beeswax candles and pottery to Bloody Mary mix and leather bags.
MEANWHILE back on the farm is one such business, which started in 2015 with a focus on bags and leather goods. Owners Heather and Bobby Harris have “maker roots” – Heather from making duffel bags at an early age to support her horse hobby, and Bobby from his childhood years working in his father’s furniture factory.
Although Heather has had her share of travel during her tenure working for handbag and accessory designers in Boston and New York City, the couple feels most at home with their two young children on a farm in Lynchburg. In addition to designing and creating leather goods, the couple sells fresh vegetables and Heather’s unique organic jalapeño mustard in local markets.
Their business has grown from a garage-based production to a full line of accessories including purses, makeup bags, totes, and pouches created with quality organic vegetable-tanned leather and waxed canvas. They also carry hats, shirts, aprons, t-shirts, and wallets.
Jeff Gray is not just the owner of Scene3 Boardshop (1107 Main Street) in historic downtown Lynchburg. He is also the creative force behind scene3designs, an online shop offering handmade goods from recycled skateboards. Being a lifelong lover of skateboarding and owning a skateboard repair shop, Jeff saw his share of old and broken decks being thrown away. After cutting up his first broken skateboard to make a shoe shelf in 2012, Jeff realized the potential of the “garbage” he had been discarding, and since then has been creating and selling gifts and unique home goods – while keeping this useful material out of landfills.
His products include coasters, cable stops, laptop stands, pencil holders, wallets, and more. His online shop boasts thousands of sales and plenty of 5-star reviews. Jeff tells me that he is “especially grateful for the support of the artisan and maker community in Lynchburg,” although thanks to online shopping, his products can be purchased and shipped all over the world. Follow him on Instagram and Facebook.
Long-time Lynchburg natives may remember T.C. Trotters, previously located at 2496 Rivermont Avenue (now Rivermont Pizza) for over 3 decades. Paul “Moose” Webster and Lonnie Hoade both worked at the restaurant, where Paul, the restaurant’s bar manager, was well known for his delicious Bloody Mary cocktails. Although the restaurant is now closed, the recipe – as well as the restaurant’s name – live on through the couple’s T.C. Trotter’s Moose Mix.
If you are not a Bloody Mary fan, no worries! Their flavorful mix has been used to make gazpacho, chili, spaghetti sauce – even marinade for shrimp and seafood. Each bottle is manufactured by hand, and has been described as being fresh with a flavorful kick, and spicy – not hot.
In November 2020, their brick and mortar location was opened at 1213-A Commerce Street. The location boasts a tasting room in front, as well as manufacturing and retail space for their products, locally made honey, seasonings, and more. In addition to their own location, their Moose Mix is available in over 300 ABC stores in Virginia. Although their product reach is wider than ever, the Lynchburg market is close to their hearts, particularly since some of their local customer base remembers “the good ol’ days” when Paul was the bar manager at T.C. Trotter’s. For a list of festivals, tastings, and special events, follow along on Facebook or Instagram.
Although Kathy Shaw had a successful job as Director of Development at a non-profit, she found relaxation and fulfilment in something very different – pouring 100% pure beeswax candles.
Beeswax Candle Company (109 13th Street) actually started as a hobby for the mother of five, along with some friends who joined in the venture. Their passion is creating 100% pure, natural candles with cotton wicks and highly filtered, ethically derived, sustainable beeswax. Their warm, inviting studio and gallery space is in a historic building from the 1800s, complete with exposed brick and soaring ceilings.
If you are looking for an absolute one-of-a-kind artistic creation, Oxide Pottery pieces are it – uniquely hand-made, and refreshingly original. The business is the shared work of artists Justin Rice and Chatham Monk for the last decade, and their shop (1337 Main Street) is currently slated to reopen on May 15, 2021 – just in time for National Week of Making. Be sure to check out their precious animal friends – antelope, bears, cats, owls, and more. These hanging stoneware clay heads have perfectly designed details and a wire across the back to hang on any animal lover’s wall! Or, grab an elegant whiskey cup, a sturdy beer stein, or gorgeously detailed coffee mug. Their work can also be found in other Lynchburg businesses, such as Starhill Brewery, Grey’s, and Mama Crocket’s Cider Donuts. Keep up with the latest news and Oxide’s event schedule on Facebook or Instagram.
Support these and many other of Lynchburg’s creative heartbeat this National Week of Making – these artisans and small business owners appreciate your loyal support!
Interested in learning more or trying your hand at your own projects? Check out Lynchburg’s own Maker Space, Vector Space! From memberships to classes, hobbyists to entrepreneurs, they are your one-stop shop for all things Maker-related.
Kari Smith is a Virginia native whose love of writing began as a child, writing poems and songs. In 2006, her dream became reality when she moved to Nashville, Tennessee to sing and record her own original compositions. She continued on to pursue writing magazine articles and blogs to chronicle and share her personal adventures and interests. Besides teaching music and performing in the Richmond, VA area, she also enjoys riding horses, raising goats and chickens, and gardening.
Find out more about Kari HERE