Third Annual Made in the South Awards

by Vanessa Gregory, Elizabeth Hutchison and T. Edward Nickens - December 2012/January 2013

Dixie's best in Home, Style + Design, Outdoors, and Food

Runners-Up: Home Category


Nordt Family Farm
Product:  Blankets
Made in: Charles City, VA
Est.: 2005

When Dianne Nordt graduated from college, her father wanted to buy her a car. She asked for a loom instead. Nineteen years later, Nordt is still using that gift to weave delicate blankets in classic, color-blocked designs. She starts with merino wool taken from sheep kept on her farm overlooking the James River, on the flats of Virginia’s Tidewater region. Sheep naturally produce a range of earthy hues—tans, grays, browns, and whites—and Nordt uses vegetable dyes like indigo and Osage orange for accent colors. “I don’t have aspirations to build up something big,” says Nordt, who weaves about eighty-five blankets with the wool from each spring shearing. “I’m very content to make one blanket at a time.”

Price: $90–$175


Kaminer Haislip
Product: Silver Coffeepot
Made in: Charleston, SC
Est.: 2005

Inspired by the shape of a bird, Kaminer Haislip’s coffeepot is a utilitarian work of fine art. “I want the pieces to have movement and energy,” says Haislip, who melds traditional European silversmith techniques with references to art deco and Scandinavian modern design. Look inside and you’ll see tiny marks left by Haislip’s hammer as she molded thick sheets of silver over a cast-iron form. From the outside, the sculptural qualities that have earned her spots in prestigious national exhibitions, including the American Craft Council Show in Baltimore, are equally present. Each piece pounded to life in Haislip’s studio echoes eighteenth-century Charleston, when the skill of the port city’s silversmiths was legendary.

Price: $5,500

Fire Pit Art
Product: Fire Pits
Made in: Lebanon, TN
Est.: 2008

Crafted from quarter-inch steel, Rick Wittrig’s fire pits are forged in the outdoors culture of central Tennessee. “Everybody is a hunter or an outdoorsman or a fisherman,” says Wittrig, who grew up in a Mennonite village in Illinois that valued no-nonsense craftsmanship. “It wasn’t unusual to know how to weld. It was an expectation.” So five years ago, after buying his daughter a mass-manufactured fire pit that quickly disintegrated, Wittrig decided to build something better. Soon, he had a thriving business. His graceful fire pits can be found at California’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area, at
 Dollywood in Tennessee, and in homes around the country, where custom versions warm backyards. “To make an idea into something that will last a hundred years, I get excited about it,” Wittrig says. “Long after I’m gone, people will still be enjoying it.”

Price: $800–$2,500,