Jewelry artist Shira Brooks uses a variety of stones and metal finishes. (Contributed by
Photo: For the AJC
Photo: For the AJC

Southern Made: 3 artists at 3-day craft show


Virginia’s Shira Brooks grew up in a creative family. Her mother is a glass artist. Her sister is an animator-turned-ceramicist. Brooks gets her creative fix from making jewelry.

The artist: Brooks started metalsmithing and rock climbing as a teenager. The climbing inspired her jewelry designs. She later studied metals at University of the Arts in Philadelphia and graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University. In 2016, Brooks opened her studio in Richmond.

The goods & materials: Statement necklaces and delicate pendants; funky rings and cuffs; and lightweight earrings. Jewelry is made from recycled silver and stones, such as moody opals, sapphires, white topaz and labradorite.

What’s popular: Annapurna necklace ($140 to $170) and Acanthus earrings ($140 to $200).

Fun (or unusual) request: Custom piece for a couple who were in the Peace Corps and wanted a necklace of the prominent mountain from their village in Madagascar. It was a surprise gift from him to her.

What’s next: Designs of specific mountain ranges; functional compass pendants; and more pieces with large stones.

Where to and Instagram @shirabrooks. In Atlanta, at the American Craft Council show (booth 915).


Using white earthenware, ceramic artist Jeff Pender creates abstract sculpture and life-size, interactive totems.

Ceramic artist Jeff Pender designs the blocks on his life-size totems to move independently from the other blocks.The interactive feature of Pender’s work allows you to be part of the creative process. (Contributed by
Photo: For the AJC

The artist: Pender’s love of clay stems from working the red clay soil on his grandmother’s farm in North Carolina. In high school, he started making pots and later earned a master’s of fine arts degree from the University of Florida in 2002. Currently, he is a full-time instructor at ClayWorks, a large, nonprofit clay studio in Charlotte, N.C. Pender lives in nearby Mooresville, where he maintains a home studio.

The goods & materials: Abstract pieces, ranging from wall art, sculpture and totems. Pender uses white earthenware, glass, wood and steel in his pieces, which are often finished to resemble other materials, such as bone or wood.

What’s popular: Interactive totems ($1,900 to $2,500) with glass in various shades of blue, green, yellow and purple. Each block on the totem moves independently from the others.

Other favorites: Wall art ($75 to $700) and abstract ritualistic sculptures ($400 to $900).

What’s next: Working on a large wall piece (15 feet by 2 feet) and a large totem for a hotel in Charlotte.

Where to In Atlanta, at the American Craft Council show (booth 1203).


In September 2016, Southern Made featured the work of Corry Blanc, a Virginia blacksmith who crafts heirloom kitchen and home goods, such as hand-forged steel skillets and handsome charcuterie boards.

The artist & company: Blanc, who grew up in Dawsonville, started Charlottesville-based Blanc Creatives in 2011.

Blanc Creatives crafts hand-forged cookware and home goods, like the new noir line of serving boards. (Contributed by
Photo: For the AJC

What’s new: Saucier pans (in two sizes, $345 and $380). Also roasters with two-loop handles (in three sizes, $230 to $280). The all-steel pans are pre-seasoned with coconut oil.

Also: The new “noir” line of wood boards ($145 and $165). Made of oxidized walnut, the boards feature a brass pipe inlay. They are sealed with food-safe linseed oil and beeswax.

Where to In Atlanta, at the American Craft Council show, booth (718).


The ACC show is March 16-18 at Cobb Galleria Center in Atlanta. The Southeast’s largest juried indoor craft show features more than 230 of the country’s top craft artists and their latest handmade creations in jewelry, clothing, furniture and home décor. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

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