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Troublesome kudzu turns to useful items in artist’s hands

POSTED: June 12, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Jessica Jordan/The Times

Regina Hines, left, chats with Millard Powledge about woven furniture Sunday at the Dahlonega Gold Museum's Visiting Artist Series.

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Many Southerners detest kudzu as much as they detest cockroaches.

But fiber artist Regina Hines demonstrated Sunday that kudzu can be used to create more than an overgrown garden.

At the second weekend of the Visiting Artist Series at the Dahlonega Gold Museum, Hines spent the afternoon molding kudzu vines into baskets.

"It’s a very good vine," she said. "Don’t sell it short."

She also displayed her handmade kudzu jewelry, hats and purses. Hines also has built chairs and a table out of kudzu vines for Neiman Marcus stores in Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C.

"My grandmother told me that in Japan, where it came from, it was so strong they used it for suspension bridges, baskets, food and medicine and wall coverings, as well," Hines said.

For 30 years, Hines has pulled kudzu vines from her home at Rivermist Farm in Ball Ground. She also uses grape vines and shaggy honeysuckle vines in her creations.

"My sister lived on a farm in Alabama, and I got sick of hearing her talk about how much she hated the kudzu," she said. "But I’m a fiber artist, and we look at things differently. We ask only two questions: What can I weave with it? And where can I get more?"

Hines also incorporates her knack for the unusual in her jewelry. She creates her own enamel and glass beads and intertwines them with Irish wax linen, semi-precious and precious stones.

Lynda Bryan, exhibit guide at the Dahlonega Gold Museum, said Hines is the second of a series of artists participating in the gold museum’s first Visiting Artist Series this summer. Through November, artists from around the Southeast will showcase their wares nearly every Sunday.

"It’s some of the most unusual jewelry I’ve ever seen," Bryan said of Hines’ work.

Bryan said it’s the local flavor of Appalachian crafts that the series aims to showcase.

"We have a lot of very gifted people," she said. "They come from various parts, but they’re always interesting. People visiting love talking with the artists and seeing their crafts."

She said the next featured artists will be basket weavers Joseph and Christina Adeshakin on June 14



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