Friday and Saturday, 1:00 – 5:00 pm
Area craftsmen will take Pilgrimage visitors back to simpler times with an Artisans’ Fair in Heritage Village on Friday and Saturday from 1-5 pm. Admission is free.
Located on McLeod Avenue near Sturdivant Hall, the little park with 19th Century buildings will host a potter, quilter, basket weaver, soap maker and more. Some of the work will also be for sale.
Allen Ham, a fifth-generation potter, who will demonstrate traditional pottery techniques. Alabama is rich in a variety of clays, and early potters sculpted everything from dinner plates, bowls, mugs, pitchers, crocks and churns. Later, they also made brick, flower pots and grave markers.
Ham hails from the well-known Ham family that has been making pottery for 150 years. His grandfather, Herndon Miller, made pottery at a Highway 5 shop in Brent.
Ham’s exhibitions include the American Folk Festival, Smithsonian Institution; The Alabama Clay Conference, Kentuck Festival of the Arts and The Birmingham Museum of Art.
Laura Spencer, a soap maker and candle maker in Marion Junction, embodies the idea of living life as naturally as possible.
She makes soap with goat milk produced on her family’s farm and candles from beeswax. She also makes body butters using natural products. Laura plans to bring some of her chickens and goats so that visitors can see how people can have a backyard farm and live more organically.
Betty Bain, a basket weaver, uses woods such as ash, cane, reed and white oak to create baskets that are as aesthetically pleasing as they are useful. She gives each basket a name to describe its use and to personalize it.
Betty will demonstrate how she weaves these works of art into beautiful treasures. She makes anything from small pouch gift baskets to beach totes. She’s also known for her creative use of unusual items such as deer antlers into her baskets.
Jeanann Szymanski not only makes quilts, but she is an historian when it comes to early 20th Century sewing. She will display some of her early sewing machines and quilt patterns and demonstrate her sewing and quilting techniques.
John Mott will demonstrate his blacksmithing skills on Saturday afternoon.
Mott forges nails and other tools that were commonly made by young blacksmith apprentices in the late 1800s. He became interested in the craft as a Civil War re-enactor, “and it’s a facet that I thought needed to be shown to kids.”
While he annually participates in the school tour days at the Battle of Selma, Mott said that blacksmithing also fits with Pilgrimage, and he previously has conducted demonstrations at The Foundry during past events.
Mott learned blacksmithing through books and the people he met through the Alabama Forge Council, which meets twice a year at Tannehill Ironworks Historic Park.