Searching for thoughtful, heritage-oriented gifts to give this Christmas and beyond? We have curated a list of Black (Southern) artisans who pay homage to Black artisans and craftspeople who would paint, sew, weave, make pottery and more for their enslavers as well as their own families. In some cases, they’ve passed on their craft for generations. Owning one of their works would make you a collector and it would make you a person helping to sustain African American handcrafts. The good people listed are only a smattering of Black artisans in the South but with a purchase (and word-of-mouth) you will be supporting their work while preserving culture.
Sweetgrass Basket Makers
Mt. Pleasant, SC
Darryl & Angela’s Sweetgrass Baskets
Darryl moved to Charleston, met Angela and their legacy as sweetgrass basket makers began almost 30 years ago. Their store contains small items and larger artistic pieces.
Corey Alston Gullah Sweetgrass Baskets
Corey is a fifth-generation sweetgrass basket weaver. There are multiple stores online that carry his products. To purchase directly from him, visit him on Facebook to request stock ready for purchase.
Mazie’s Sweetgrass Baskets
Sweetgrass Baskets made by Mazie Brown and her booth is on Highway 17N across from The Market at Oakland Shopping Center in Mt. Pleasant, SC.
For more info: https://www.facebook.com/maziesbaskets/
Sapelo Island, GA
Yvonne Grovner, Master Sweetgrass & Sawtooth Palmetto Baskets
Yvonne J Grovner is a master basket maker on Sapelo Island. She was taught by Mr. Allen Green, a national treasure and master basket maker.
Baskets can be ordered by calling Yvonne at 912-485-2262 or writing to:
P.O. Box 24
Sapelo Island, Georgia 31327
The Atlanta Quilt Festival
The AQF is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of African American quilting and other textile art. It showcases some of the finest examples of African American quilts, dolls and other fiber art across the spectrum of all genres including traditional, art, modern and African American Heritage styles. The AQF online store sells mini quilts (a perfect size for framing) by African American artisans and the proceeds support the festival.
Gee’s Bend, AL
Gee’s Bend Quilting Collective
The quilts of Gee’s Bend are quilts created by a group of women and their ancestors who live or have lived in the isolated African-American hamlet of Gee’s Bend, Alabama along the Alabama River. The quilts of Gee’s Bend are among the most important African-American visual and cultural contributions to the history of art within the United States. Individual members of the community of quilters have their own Etsy stores under the umbrella of The Gee’s Bend Quilters.
The Tutwiler Community Education Center and the Tutwiler Quilters
Tutwiler Quilters started in 1988 as a project of the Tutwiler Clinic Outreach Program. This program helps African American women in the Mississippi Delta area use their skills of quilt making to help support themselves and their families, as well as to preserve a quilting style that is indigenous to the African American people in the Delta area. The women who quilt sell their products at fairs and festivals; the online shop contains photos of the products available for purchase. Contact the Center for more information.
Southern Heritage Textile Makers & Yarn Dyers
Laverne Benton is the Indie Dyer and Tools Maker behind the online store BzyPeach based in Georgia. As a dyer, she specializes in hand-dyed luxury Pima cotton and Tencel yarns in Fingering, DK and Aran weights. She also creates illustrations featuring crafters of color that adorn the covers of her exclusive range of journals, aimed specifically at fiber lovers. You can buy her hand-dyed yarns and other products from her online store BzyPeach.
Adella, LolaBean Yarn Co.
Adella is a milspouse, self-taught yarn dyer and yarn entrepreneur. She is also fiber artist. Her online store has yarn (sells fast), crafts and tees to support her work.
Roschelle, Queen’s Yarn Boutique
Virginia-born Roschelle is a knitter, needle-crafter and fiber artist, who also is an independent yarn dyer.
Karida Collins, Neighborhood Fiber Co.
Since 2011, Neighborhood Fiber Co. has made a home in Baltimore, MD, and continues to offer vibrant, one-of-a-kind colors inspired by urban landscapes. In 2020, Karida founded the NFC Momentum Fund, a donor-advised charitable fund that has distributed more than $50k in grants to community organizations in the Baltimore community. NFC’s store has fibers/yarn, notions, needles, apparel and accessories.
Southern Potters, Ceramicists
Charity Coleman, Charity Ceramics
Most of Charity’s work consists of functional pieces like mugs and planters, focusing on incorporating color into homes.
Kay Marin, 344 Frost
Kay is a ceramicist, 344 Frost was created in homage to her grandmother who did everything with style, class, and love. She loved to entertain and she loved people.
Kim, Khaos Creates Ceramics
Khaos Creates Ceramics is about turning life’s chaotic energy into creative, positive, and even comical outcomes. We are eternally optimistic! Each piece challenges you to see the glass half-full and encourages embracing chaos as a transformative power.
Southern Apothecaries, Herbalists
Jovan Sage, Sage’s Larder
Jovan Sage is an herbalist, doula, an Institute for Integrative Nutrition health coach and chef, and more. Check her Instagram and website for updates to her larder (store) and to make appointments with her for consultations.
Taznerda Haley, Black Elder Herbal Apothecary
Taznerda Haley is a Gullah Geechee southern woman born in Charleston, SC, which is also the headquarters for Black Elder LLC. The company specializes in Black Elderberry products.
Marni Woodson, Asher & Bee Apothecary and Teahouse
Marni Woodson specializes in herbs and botanicals as a way to heal and encourage wellness and balance. Her store carries beauty products, teas, tinctures and more.
Southern Black Museum Gift Shops to Support
National Museum of African American Music, Nashville, TN https://shopnmaam.org/
International African American Museum, Charleston, TN https://www.shop.iaamuseum.org/
Smithsonian NMAAHC, Washington, DC https://www.smithsonianstore.com/museum-stores/african-american-history-culture/
Penn Center, St. Helena Island, SC http://www.penncenter.com/shop-online
Delta Blues Museum, Clarksdale, MS https://www.deltabluesmuseum.org/shop.aspx1