Exploring Richmond’s South of the James Farmers Market (Part 1)

SOJ Farmers Mkt 2

Farmers markets provide customers with direct access to the growers and artisans who show up each week with fresh produce and goods. I love visiting Richmond’s South of the James market in Forest Hill Park because it offers a wonderful (and large) mix of food items and arts & crafts. The line-up of vendors can vary slightly from week to week, but most are regulars throughout the May-Dec season. I thought it might be fun to offer a small tour of some of my favorite places to shop, based on my 25 May visit to the market.

My husband and I love goat cheese, and there are usually several booths offering tastes of their handcrafted goat cheeses in different flavors.

Goat Cheeses

Goats-R-Us has a large selection of sweet and savory cheeses, and we often pick up a container of their Horsey Chevre (made with horseradish), because it tastes great on crackers and as a sandwich spread. The 4 oz. containers of cheese are $5.50 each, and they offer a Buy 9-Get 1 Free “Frequent Buyer” card.

Goats-R-Us

 

During this visit, we also made a first-time purchase of some of the Lachevriere Cendre from the Bonnyclabber Cheese Co. at Sullivan’s Pond Farm. This soft goat cheese is coated in a mixture of grapevine ash and sea salt, and had an amazingly rich flavor that made us immediate fans.

Bonnyclabber Cheese 4

 

For people who can cook (like my husband) and who enjoy quality seafood, you can’t beat Barham’s. The seafood offered here comes fresh off the fishing boat, nestled on ice in large coolers. Those who arrive late on a Saturday morning risk experiencing one of the market’s saddest sights – a “Sold Out” written next to the item they were hoping to have for dinner.

Barham's Seafood 1

Barham's Seafood 2

Barham's Seafood 3

 

On this particular day, Barham’s didn’t have the salmon we were hoping for, so Stephen instead picked out three pieces of tuna for grilling. We ate two pieces for dinner with Stephen’s homemade tartar sauce, and he used the third piece to make tuna salad for sandwiches.

Barham's Seafood 4

Barham's Seaffood 6

 

If you’d like a change from grocery-store peanut butter, check out Reginald’s Homemade. Their creamy and crunchy peanut butters are really good, but if you’re feeling adventurous, Stephen loves their Bourbon Pecan Peanut Butter, while I’m a fan of their Cashew Nilla Cashew Butter. We didn’t buy anything during this particular visit, but I’m seeing a jar of their Double Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter in my future.

Reginald's PB

 

 

Stay tuned to this blog for the exciting conclusion to my tour of the South of the James Farmers Market!

 

(The South of the James Farmers Market is open from 8 a.m. to Noon Saturdays in Forest Hill Park, 42nd Street and New Kent Avenue. The 2013 season runs 4 May through 7 December.)

The Joy of the Tackle Box

Tackle Box 1

Years ago when I was in high school, art students like me would go to sporting goods stores in search of just the right fishing tackle box to hold our pens, brushes, paints and other art supplies.  Eventually, companies like ArtBin caught on to this practice and began producing their own versions of tackle boxes, often made out of translucent plastic, that they pitched directly to artists.  Why use an ugly rough-and-tumble tackle box when you could carry an “art supply box” instead?

Except that on a recent weekend at Kimberly Ann’s Petersburg Pickers (http://www.shopkimberlyanns.com/), I chanced upon the perfect tackle box for use in my artistic endeavors.  Behold the Union Steel Chest Corp. Watertite Tackle Box, patented in 1951.

Tackle Box 2

 

This vintage baby is in practically mint condition, with only a barely noticeable dent in the top and a speck or two of rust along a few edges and around the lock.  She was filthy and loaded with hooks, flies and a 1967 Virginia Fishing Regulations Booklet, and she was MINE.  I cleaned her out, then cleaned her up, and what a beauty she turned out to be.  They just don’t make fishing tackle boxes like this anymore.  I’m using her now for my jewelry-making supplies, so let’s take a look at what she’s got under the hood.

Tackle Box 4

 

The sections of the upper tray hold all of my jewelry-making tools, spools of wire, some findings, and a red-and-white bobber I kept as a good-luck piece from the box’s original contents.

In the bottom section, a vintage metal ice cube tray holds small bags of buttons, and can be used to keep my supplies organized while I work.   An Altoids box is a convenient way to catch small pieces of metal and other trash.  I’ve also included 8″ and 12” rulers, more findings and chains, and a piece of fleece that is great to work on because it prevents beads, buttons and jump rings from rolling away.

Tackle Box 5

Tackle Box 6

 

I used to lug around several large totes filled with all of my jewelry supplies, but with a little project planning, I can create jewelry at any location, carrying everything I need in this one steel tackle box.  Think about the kind of art you like to do “on the go.”  If your supplies are small enough, a vintage fishing tackle box might be the perfect solution for you as well!

Tackle Box 7

Tackle Box 1

Finding a Unique Approach

Blue-Green-White  Beads

I’ve worked in a lot of different arts & crafts media over the years, and today I thought I’d write about how I got started in jewelry-making.  I loved the idea of making the perfect pieces of jewelry, in my favorite colors and with attached charms filled with personal meaning.  And since I can only wear so much jewelry, it seemed like a great idea to make even more pieces to sell to all the people out there who share the same fun aesthetic as me.

When my aunt offered to teach me basic jewelry-making, I jumped at the chance.  She helped me pick out my first tools and encouraged me to buy strands of colorful and fancy beads.  Strands and strands of beads.  Lots and lots and lots of beads.

Later, when I was looking over my burgeoning collection of beads, I realized a couple things.  I actually don’t wear that many beaded necklaces and earrings.  And beaded jewelry was the most common thing I was seeing at arts & crafts fairs.  After I’d check out the beaded necklaces and bracelets in a couple vendor booths, I’d find that everything started to look the same.  If I wanted to make jewelry that I would enjoy wearing and might have a reasonable chance of selling, I needed to take a new approach and find a look no one else had.

Then one day at a local craft show, in a booth full of pins and necklaces made from forged metal and vintage tin cans, I happened to notice a single pair of earrings, made from two tiny white buttons and silver wire (and priced outrageously high, considering how small and plain they were).  I looked at those earrings, and it occurred to me that buttons would be a unique alternative to beads.  Other than this one pair of earrings, I’d never seen anyone actually wearing or selling jewelry made from buttons.  And if I used vintage buttons, my jewelry would have a special appeal to people who, like me, are interested in upcycled crafts with a retro look.

So that’s what got me started working with vintage buttons.  I still use the occasional bead as an accent, but the button jewelry I make has a distinctive look that reflects my own unique way of looking at the world.

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If you’d like to see more of my work, check out my Etsy shop at www.WaywardArts.etsy.com!

Just Jumping Right In

I Will Pluck Leaves

Starting at the beginning is hard.  Choosing the perfect first word.  Spooling out one’s thoughts in just the right order.   Finding the proper tone.  It’s too much stress.  So I think I’m going to just jump right in, and if this blog takes off, maybe I’ll come back one day and write a proper introduction.

I intend for this blog to be a travel diary, of sorts, of the creative journey I’m on.  I’m in the process of starting an arts & crafts business, Wayward Arts, and it’s coming along slowly but surely.  I have business cards now, which makes me feel somewhat official.  And I just bought a vendor tent, so I can finally do outdoor events.  It’s a brave new “world of craft” out there, and I want to be part of it!  I hope you’ll enjoy reading about my adventures as an artist, a budding entrepreneur and an explorer of some of the cooler things in life.