Even though I come from a long line of ACC basketball fans, for me, March Madness means the ACC Craft Show at the Cobb Galleria. Judging from the long line of fans waiting for the doors to open this morning, I am not alone. More than 250 of the nation’s top artisans display their wares at this annual event, and the Minneapolis-based American Craft Council keeps things fresh by making sure about 25 percent of them are new to Atlanta. You’ll find every medium from ceramics and glass to textiles and furniture—the jewelry alone is worth a visit.
In recent years, organizers have added several programs to engage visitors. The Hip Pop booths feature up-and-coming artists making innovative items like 3D-printed jewelry and shibori pillows. During Saturday’s Style Slam, local stylists will dress models and ACC members in handcrafted fashions. The Let’s Make stations allow attendees to try their own hands at skills like shaping pottery or preserving.
A don’t-miss stop is Leanna Leithauser-Lesley’s Let’s Make booth, where she helps visitors add their own stitches to two communal canvases. Known for her intricate needlepoint portraits of musicians, the Alabama artist and Georgia native has created a series featuring jazz musicians like Nina Simone and Civil Rights icons such as Medgar Evers, Langston Hughes, and Lorraine Hansberry. The collection was launched in 2005 at the request of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and will make its Atlanta debut later this month in conjunction with the Theatrical Outfit’s musical Simply Simone: The Music of Nina Simone.
Design aficionados will want to check out the Make Room vignettes created by local designers using furnishings from the show. This year’s spaces were inspired by past decades in honor of ACC’s 75th anniversary. This year’s designers are Alejandra Dunphy of A/D Studio, Leah Atkins, Laurie Scholl of the Wish List Antiques & Interiors, and Willem Stear of Tonic Design Studio.
Finally, you don’t have to be a shopper to enjoy Balvenie’s Let’s Make tasting room. This is the only distillery of its kind that still creates Scotch by hand, using time-tested, traditional techniques. Sign up for a free tasting, or catch a screening of Raw Craft starring Anthony Bourdain.
The ACC Show runs through Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Cobb Galleria.