ME Speak Design is a 2017 Garden & Gun Magazine Made in the South Award Finalist

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For the last 4 years, when the annual call for artists to enter the Made in the South Awards by Garden & Gun magazine is announced we have entered.  Each year with the hope that we will be one of the artists selected to grace the pages of this special issue.  Our first year we knew it was just a shot in the dark but if someone there could discover our work, it was worth it.  Our shop was under renovation at the time and we had no website up, but we entered a beautiful Japanese style low table just for fun.  When the letter came that we were not one of the lucky ones, we weren’t surprised or disappointed.  We actually saved that letter as a souvenir.

Year 2 of entering we went all out!  We entered our entire Oleole Collection.  We were really feeling good about our entry and our work.  More than any of it, we liked that this collection shared our family ties, our story and where we draw our inspiration.  This time we got an email that we had made it through to round 2 and to please send them pieces from the collection.  We were thrilled and quickly packaged up everything and sent it on it’s way.  The waiting was excruciating and when October rolled around and we had not received a letter or our collection back we weren’t sure what had happened.  After reaching out to them we were told we were not a finalist and they could not find our pieces.  We were so upset, not only had we not made it through but our work was lost somewhere.  Garden & Gun had just moved offices so they were shuffling around boxes; it had to be around somewhere.  A couple of weeks later it was discovered that the judge for our category had not sent it back and it arrived a week or so later back to us along with the dreaded letter.  


Oleole Chopsticks

Year 3, we thoughtfully and lovingly created a Punch Ladle for our entry.  Mixing in our southern flair with our simple japanese design, we were really confident this time!  We also, made it together, I made the spoon, Eric making the handle, then we combined them into one piece.  Again we got that awesome email that were selected to go through to the 2nd round and to please send in one punch ladle.  Unfortunately that Punch Ladle arrived back  to our shop with a letter sometime in September, we in fact were not a finalist.  After the let down, we had decided that 3 times was a good go at it and we would save our time and money and let it go.  We weren’t destined to be in the pages of this iconic issue.


Punch Ladle


When this past July came and the announcement was made for entries we both felt strange not entering.  Why were we quitting?  Did we think our work wasn’t good enough?  If they had selected us the last two years to go through to round 2 why would we not, maybe have a chance?  Eric was adamant that we not enter.  I was not.  I convinced him that we should just not overthink it.  Let’s not go crazy and spend days designing a new piece, let’s just enter a piece that we feel encapsulates our work, is beautiful, useful and has a story that we connect with not just with our hands but our hearts.  Year 4 entry, our Hand Forged Brass cocktail spoon.


Cocktail Spoon

This spoon was designed  from our Hand Forged Brass Spice Spoon.  The spice spoon came to life when my sister became pregnant with her 4th child, Bernadette.  We wanted to gift something special to Bernie that she would have for her children one day.  We made our first one for her as a baby spoon and it was stunning.  On September 24th, 2016, 18 months after Bernadette was born, my sister called me with the words that I will never forget, they still bring me to my knees in disbelief.  She told me our niece had cancer, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia, AML.  Her white blood cells were so high it was a miracle she could survive.  The year to come was a nightmare as we watched our niece battle this horrific disease.  If I could only describe her smile and her strength through those months,  I would,  but I have yet to find the words.  My sister, brother in law and other niece and nephews all displayed courage and grace like we’ve never witnessed.  This past February, Bernie had her last chemotherapy and shows no evidence of disease. She is now a thriving 2 year old with a smile that will melt your heart.   It is a miracle to us that this tiny human fought the fight of her life just months ago.   For every spice spoon we sell we donate a portion to CURE, an organization that tirelessly fights every day,researching for a cure for childhood cancer.


Spice Spoon


From Bernadette’s spoon birthed the cocktail spoon.  We took the shape of her spoon and used the same forging process and created a longer version for stirring your favorite beverage, whether it is sweet tea or a cocktail, it is a match made in heaven.   This year we received the email that we had made it to round 2 and to mail in a cocktail spoon.  To say we had zero expectations on this one was an understatement.  We were thrilled but were sure one day we would walk to our shop and the returned box would sit there with that same letter and we would again feel defeated.  This time that didn’t happen, instead we received an email, which we have saved in our archive, saying we were in fact a finalist and our cocktail spoon would actually grace the pages of the Made In The South Awards issue!! 

If anyone had seen us when we read those words we would have been so embarrassed.  We were jumping up and down, crying tears of happiness.  We re-read that email a hundred times that day to make sure we hadn’t misread something.  After four years of entering they had finally seen our work in a way they thought their audience would appreciate and they were right!  This last month has been like nothing we could have expected.  Spoon after spoon after spoon all day every day.  To our surprise so many of our other pieces have sold along with the spoons and we’ve gained hundreds of new fans who have been introduced to our work through this amazing opportunity.  We even had the most special order from the great granddaughter of Aunt Myrt whom our home is lovingly named after.  We couldn’t help but think that it was all meant for a reason.  We also know in our hearts that this isn’t just for us, it’s for Bernie.  That is the most special thing of it all.  

If we could use our blip of exposure as a platform while we are in the moment to help shine a light on awareness for childhood cancer than we are going to.  If you are looking for a gift this year then make a donation to a charity that is searching for that cure for childhood cancer.  Let’s be a part of finding the cure, it could be your child one day, your niece or your nephew.  You can find CURE here or you can purchase a spice spoon in Bernie’s honor and we will donate for you.  Either way it will be the perfect gift for a child somewhere not just this holiday season but all year long.


Lori and Bernie

Thank you Garden & Gun magazine for shining a light on our little shop in North High Shoals, GA.  We don’t feel worthy but we’ll take it!  

Made in the South Awards Badge

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