This story also appears in our Summer 2020 Quarterly Newsletter.
Many of our artisans have been sheltering in their studios creating merchandise for the Museum store. Discover a few of their stories and learn more about their products.
Bybella – Handcrafted Artisan Jewelry
Nashville native Diane Thomas is a silver smith and jewelry designer who creates beautiful hand-forged jewelry for a cause: sheltering and educating homeless and orphaned children and street survivors.
Each piece created at Bybella is made by hand, from the forging to the finishing, with high quality metals and gemstones. Diane’s jewelry features a variety of geometric shapes and patterns as well as custom textures and text. Many of her pieces are inspired from nature and diverse cultural art. From intricate and bold bangles to subtle and elegant pieces to layer, these handsome adornments each celebrate the craft of the artist and ultimately give each wearer a chance to express themselves through an elegant handmade piece of art.
She is also president of Humanility, a non-profit organization based out of the Philippines, whose mission is to emancipate and empower victims of poverty and children at risk through compassionate care and sustainable economic and education development. “I believe that by creating and selling high quality jewelry,” says Thomas, “people receive a high-quality product while helping those in need at the same time–definitely a win-win! I am thrilled to have my craft.”
Garner Blue – Indigo Dyed Textiles
Lou Garner grew up in Wisconsin and moved to Jackson, Tennessee, to attend Union University. After earning her degree in graphic design, she began working in her field but became quickly bored with her job. She and a friend started an art “camp” for interested creative participants. She chose learning how to create indigo designs on textiles as the theme. She enjoyed the process so much that it inspired her to create Garner Blue.
“I dye with natural indigo yielding sublime shades,” she says. “My patterns are based on a modern shibori method as well as a katazome stencil + rice paste resist method utilizing everything from river rocks and wooden blocks to cassette tapes to laser-cut forms to create patterns on natural fibers. Indigo dreams come true. Several people have told me they have seen my work in the Museum Store. I feel honored to be one of the selected artisans.”
Crowing Hens Bindery
Mary Louise Sullivan is a bookbinder and printmaker and the owner and operator of Crowing Hens Bindery, which she founded in Nashville in 2014. “I studied printmaking and photography at Maryville College, and then joined the ranks at the legendary Nashville icon, Hatch Show Print,” she says. “While cranking out show posters as a designer and letterpress printer at Hatch for five years, I discovered a love for production, and traditional processes. An intern and friend introduced me to bookbinding.”
Sullivan’s growing interest and curiosity into the making of books and small business entrepreneurship led her to the University of Iowa Center for the Masters in Book Arts program in Iowa City, where she studied papermaking, fine press printing, bookbinding, book history, and calligraphy.
After obtaining her MFA, she moved back to Nashville, her hometown, and founded Crowing Hens Bindery. Her private studio is dedicated to the traditional hand methods of making books, specializing in traditional stationery (blank book) bookbinding, letterpress printed fine art prints and stationery, book jewelry, and decorative papers. Each journal, notebook, sketchbook, and album is a functional piece of art that becomes a personal treasure or family heirloom that will last for generations to come.
Visual artist Dayo Johnson grew up in Nashville after her family moved from Detroit, Michigan, when she was 5-years old. She received her professional art training at Fisk University and the Art Institute of Atlanta. Dayo uses acrylic paint on wood to create her work along with recycled items.
“My art is created using rescued and found objects; I was green before ‘green’ was cool,” explains Dayo. “I’ve been dumpster diving and saving things from landfills for over 20 years!”
The mother of two young boys, she is best known for her “Child of God” series. “My work is a reflection of life as I hope it to be, she says. “Reflections of hope, love, peace and unity. I see the rescued items I use in my pieces as a way to create that hope. These discarded items are all an essential part of my work and will forever give me hope.
“I want the precious children I create to bring happiness to all. I love the Tennessee Museum Store and I have been overwhelmed by the reception to my work on sale there.”