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If you live in the Raleigh-Durham area and trying to find something fun and crafty to do with your love this weekend–check out my piece “Unleash Your Inner Artisan” in INDY Week. More about how I got the idea for it below:


Letterpress love.

Earlier this month I received an email from Brian Allen about a Valentine’s letterpress class at his studio in downtown Durham. I took a letterpress class last year in his space with friends and the pieces we produced were beautiful. Words have a different feeling depending on how they’re presented. No wonder Brian’s landlady gave him the idea to have a Valentine’s class so that couples can put their feelings in words in such an artistic way!

carolina pottery

Seal your love in ceramic. (Photo c/o Chana Meeks.)

Not long after I saw Brian’s class, I got another email from the North Carolina Arts Incubator (NCAI) in Chatham County announcing a pottery class Valentine’s weekend where students can make a custom clay dinner tray (or platter depending on whether you want to roll out handles). Mixed media artist Chana Meeks runs the class. The Courtyard Coffee and Soda Cafe is the entrance to the NCAI. Students will enjoy gourmet treats made by the coffee shop owner and then get their hands dirty in Carolina clay during class.


Hand-forged roses won’t get tossed after Valentine’s. (Photo c/o Haw River Forge.)

Then I remembered I saw stunning handmade steel roses at the Saxapahaw Holiday Market a few months ago. The blacksmith, Ches Stewart of Haw River Forge, makes the roses. (He also makes decorative hearts, which I bought for my parents for Christmas. My mom LOVES hearts.) Ches started working with metal for fun, but his hobby started becoming expensive so he and his wife agreed he should take it seriously. (A little like my husband’s new hobby-turned-business venture in metal work.) Ches completed a challenging program at the Virginia Institute of Blacksmithing where a dozen forges offer students training on this classic trade.

My love and I celebrated Valentine’s early with a feast at the Fearrington House Restaurant last weekend. We are staying in on Valentine’s Day and I will attempt to make gnocchi for the first time ever. Although it’s not a keepsake item like the ones above, I bet it will be tasty.