Hide & Hunter
Birmingham prides itself on small local businesses and talent. The community is so supportive, and it is an honor to be welcomed as one of the city’s sustainable accessories designers.Hannah Christine, founder Hide & Hunter
From the moment you step inside Hide & Hunter in the Mercantile on Morris development in downtown Birmingham, you know you are in a maker’s space. The smell of rich leather envelops you and there is texture and craftsmanship at every turn. Owner Hannah Christine might be found at the work table in the rear of the store, giving new life to old goods with her deft hand and her eye for style.
The brick-and-mortar space is artfully littered with antler sheds, several of
which were found on family land nearby. Hannah will put some of these to use in her handcrafted designs that are rustic but never clunky. On tall racks along one side of the store hang dozens of one-of-a-kind bags, clutches, satchels, and cross-body carryalls. Colors vary widely—classic mahogany brown, golden tobacco-colored leathers, camo prints, and even bright pinks and reds.
Hannah originally attended The University of Alabama to study bridal design but says, “I quickly saw my nature-loving self expressed through creating unique outfits out of different hides.” Hannah’s great- great-grandmother was Creek Indian, and that connection definitely informs her work. “I decided to learn old-school Native American leather-working techniques,” Hannah says. Her time spent on the Pineridge Reservation in South Dakota, serving with the Lakota-Sioux tribes on leather-crafting projects, deeply influences her products.
After graduating from Alabama, Hannah interned with lifestyle brand Anthropologie before going in-house with Dillard’s to co- design a few of their private label brands. “Then I realized that my side hobby of making custom, handcrafted leather goods was taking off,” she says. “That’s when I decided to pursue Hide & Hunter full time.”
In addition to her leather goods, Hannah designs vintage-look t-shirts and candles. She also sells jewelry and other gift items. “My favorite thing I hear about my shop is that it has a spirit of peace,” she says. “In a world that sometimes feels discouraging and dark, it is the biggest compliment.”
ENGLISH VILLAGE LANE
Photography by Becca Brown Photo
Birmingham’s design scene has an incredible energy. I just want to be a small part of the next wave of visionaries who continue to shake things up and push this city forward.Angie Burge
When we invite handmade goods into our homes, we are inviting a piece of that maker into our lives. Angie Burge of English Village Lane, a custom rug company, takes this notion to heart.
With a background in interiors, Angie says, “English Village Lane started as a passion project to exercise my love for rugs and all things home décor. When I was sourcing rugs for my own home, it became a challenge to find customizable options for the varied spaces in our home.” Researching the industry, she landed upon the custom- rug concept which could incorporate individualized palettes for any homeowner.
Most customers discover Angie’s Birmingham-based business via Instagram, where the bright bold colors of her design seem to pop off the screen. She does
most of her consultations and design work online, exchanging color palettes and sizing options through the Cloud. “We can customize rugs for clients in almost any size and create unique designs down to the inch,” she says. The process begins by exchanging ideas and sharing wishlists for a project. “Clients share fabrics they love or pictures of the room they are buying the rug for,” says Angie. “We can go back and forth like that while I build the rug in CAD (Computer Animated Design) .” From there, she sends the design off to the loom, and the final product arrives 90 to 120 days later.
Locally, Angie has partnered with Hibiscus House, a company that reimagines vintage Florida-style furniture in colorful, laquered finishes. “It’s super fun for their showroom floor,” she says. “We keep selling out of it.”
All in the Details
According to Angie, an 8×10 Turkish knot-style rug has over 288,000 hand-tied knots
and takes roughly 90 days to make. The material used— high-quality New Zealand wool—is anti-microbial and anti-humectant, so the rugs repel odors and moisture which makes them a dream to clean. “I know it’s hard to wait on a made-to-order piece, but the best things sometimes are the things worth waiting for,” says Angie.
COCOON SILK RIBBON
Inspired by the natural world around her, there seems to be no limit to the colors Leslie is able to give these fabrics, imparting a bit of herself in each piece she produces.
Sometimes inspiration strikes and life offers up a second chapter. For maker Leslie Nunnelly, the aha moment struck when she was cruising her way through Pinterest and encountered fabric dyeing.
Leslie began to take notes and set her mind to work on how she might re- create some of these same colors from her own Pelham backyard. The next day, she headed to her local Salvation Army store and invested $2.50 in the largest stockpot she could find. She filled the pot with fallen leaves and small twigs, covered it with water, and set it to simmer for an hour on the stove. “My house smelled so woodsy and earthy and just yummy,” Leslie says. “I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next.”
Once the mixture had cooled and been strained, Leslie was left with the most golden-hued liquid imaginable. She grabbed the first piece of fabric she could find—a swatch of fine silk—and dunked
it into the pot. “I was astonished at the result!” says Leslie. “I still have that first piece—from 2016—and it hangs in my studio as a reminder of what is possible.”
Leslie spent the better part of a year learning the ins and outs of fabric dyeing and can easily outline the whole process of ordering silk wholesale, washing it to get rid of the sticky sericin the silk worms leave behind, and rinsing it in a mordant so that the colors take hold of the fabric. But it is the dyeing part where her creative side takes off. “I just loved the challenge of seeing if I could make the different colors,” Leslie says. “I learned that I do have all the colors on
the color wheel.” She uses Queen Anne’s lace and rosemary to achieve some delicate subtle gray-greens. And she loves telling the story of the time she made her husband pull over on the side of the road to fill the trunk with kudzu. In fact, the readily available abundance of flora here is just one reason Leslie is proud to be an Alabama maker.
While weddings are a large part of Leslie’s business, her ribbons can be found adorning other memory-laden events. One client special-ordered ribbon to adorn mementos at her sister’s funeral. Another customer requested a custom ribbon to tie gift bags for adult siblings she was meeting for the first time. According to Leslie, these are the stories that fuel a maker. She says there is an intimacy in being invited into the most special times of a person’s life.
Leslie often finds herself thinking of and praying over the recipients of her goods.
“I pray over each one while working in my home,” she says. “My home is my sacred place where I feel most comfortable.” In fact, that connection to home is at the
core of her business and why she named it Cocoon, after the self-made domicile the precious silk worm creates for itself. “I find the idea of a cocoon to be beautiful and miraculous,” she says. Much like the colorful ribbons she creates.
Contact: IG: cocoonsilkribbon – 205.253.7881
“There is something that happens when your hands get busy. It is the process of just creating something that is so inspiring.”Cobbie Llewellyn, Owner, The Smocking Bird
With almost a half-century in business, The Smockingbird heirloom sewing and smocking shop has inspired generations of makers. The store offer classes for adults and children. “I used to think the kids would get bored, but they are fascinated with what they can create with a sewing machine and some fabric,” says new owner Cobbie Llewellyn.
Community is at the heart of most makers’ projects—they seek to create something enduring, something special, something with a story. At the thrice-weekly Sit & Sews at The Smockingbird, customers bring in projects and enjoy time together. Cobbie says, “Making and creating feeds the soul. It comes from being part of a project from beginning to end. You might start with a piece of fabric, but as you work, you think about who will be wearing this garment. There is joy in that.”
CREATED FOR A PURPOSE
When you are working alongside others, you really are willing to talk about a lot of things you might not otherwise be willing to talk about. It is a very special fellowship.Ingram Link, Founder, Created for a Purpose
Ingram Link, Director of Women’s Ministries at Covenant Presbyterian Church, started Created for a Purpose 16 years ago as a response to the overly-hurried world many young girls are faced with and out of a desire to remind girls that those things do not define them. Since those initial classes in scrapbooking, sewing, and sculpture, the program has grown into a full-fledged nonprofit which equips, trains, and licenses the program to other churches. “We come up with the project ideas, the spiritual curriculum, and the training materials,” Ingram says. “Currently, we are in 7 states and 13 churches. Last summer, we had almost 2,000 participants.”
The projects that the girls (in 3rd through 8th grade) engage in are more sophisticated than those of a traditional VBS program. Participants learn skills they can use in other areas of their lives while also connecting with one another and learning spiritual lessons. Counselors are high school and college students who have completed the program themselves. Ingram says, “My solemn prayer for this program is that God would draw these girls to Him.”
In addition to the summer sessions, a holiday workshop is held the weekend before Christmas. The girls leave with gifts (ornaments, treats, paintings) to share.
Sacred Studio, a program born out of Created for a Purpose and spearheaded by Ingram and Anna Nash, director of Beacon People, is designed for moms who saw the spirit in their daughters and wanted the same thing for themselves. “It’s an incredible combination of worship, teaching, and creating,” Ingram says.
Portrait by Kimberly Wilson / Other Photography by Becky Staynor
A door knocker may seem like such a simple thing—a way a guest might announce their arrival at your home. But it is so much more. The size, shape, and heft of the object conveys a great deal about the homeowner. Nationally-renowned, she reached out to local foundry stalwarts John Stewart Jackson and Joe McCreary Birmingham-based artist Patty B. Driscoll of Birmingham Sculpture. They walked understands that perfectly.
After a fire destroyed her Redmont home in December 2013, Patty B. and
her husband began the long and laborious task of rebuilding. Gifted in a variety of mediums, she became interested in the art of metal working along the way. “I had seen some doorpulls for my new dining room that I really wanted, but they cost more than I was willing to spend,” she says. “So I decided to try and craft them myself.”
Birmingham’s status in the world of metal production is legendary. So when Patty B. wanted to create her own pieces, her through the process of sculpting the forms and creating wax molds. Birmingham Sculpture now produces her Agatha Studios pieces in their North Birmingham foundry.
Female power is a central theme in all of Patty B.’s work—be it photography, painting, or sculpting. Each door knocker honors a woman of importance to the artist. Each design deftly weaves the woman’s story with that of strength, fertility, devotion, conviction, resiliency, tenacity, and might. And honestly, who wouldn’t want to be met at the front door with that?