The Atlanta Botanical Garden held the first of two Woodland Ramble & Craft Market events the venue will host in 2019 on Saturday.
The event is held in April and then again in October and gives local, nature-inspired artists a chance to showcase and sell their work in an environment dedicated to appreciation of nature.
Cyndilyn Loudermilk, the garden’s visitors services manager, says it was an idea she had in mind as early as the Gainesville location’s grand opening back in 2015.
“From the time that we opened the garden it was kind of always a dream of mine to be able to put something like this together as a way to draw in more visitors to the garden, as a way to make people more familiar that we were here, and then as a way to do something that sort of gave back to our community in a way by being able to expose the artists to our guests,” she said.
The work on display ranges from paintings and other visual art to practical items candles and bird feeders, but the throughline Loudermilk says all the vendors carry is an appreciation for nature in their craft.
“What we try to stick with is nature-inspired, upcycled, recycled,” she said. “So, I look for artisans from the north Georgia area that specifically fall into those types of groups. Of course we’re trying to promote local art, but we’re also trying to promote the lifestyle and the respect for nature that the garden brings into people’s lives.”
Jill Haack, owner of Art in Jill’s Garden, has participated in the Woodland Ramble every time the event has been held. Haack says she feels connected to the event because it embodies her own work, which is primarily focused on nature and animals.
“It’s kind of me,” she said. “I love the garden here. I’m here painting in the garden, usually flowers, animals, nature, it’s just kind of a good fit.”
Haack’s love of crossing nature and her art is well ingrained, having made it a pillar of her portfolio at an early age.
“I took my first painting class when I was in second grade,” she said. “I don’t ever remember not doing art. Like, when I was a kid, back then you couldn’t get canvases all the time and it was not as readily available as it is now. Finally, my mom’s like, ‘just paint your room.’ So I had a whole forest. I had deers, flowers, wildflowers, birds, everything. My whole room was a big mural when I was a kid.”
While the majority of the vendors at the Woodland Ramble from the state of Georgia, one artist, Stephanie Ledford, owns a business based out of North Carolina. Loudermilk said she sought Ledford out after seeing photos of her mosaics, which are made from broken glass and dishes.
“I used to travel to different pottery shows and festivals, and some friends here or somebody bought one, told Cyndilyn about it and they invited me to come set up,” Ledford said. “And I thought ‘well, I go between four states,’ so I thought ‘might as well add that one in the spring and see.’”
The mosaics Ledford had on display depicted flowers and other plant life, and were made entirely from broken glass that was pieced together to form a cohesive design.
“It’s a form of glass mosaics, but I just use recycled, broken glass, dishes, bottles and form it into my own designs,” she said. “Gives the illusion of stained glass. I’m not very patient to cut each piece perfect and do the saudery, so breaking it and then just putting it together is just easier. I guess it gives it more of an abstract, kind of impressionistic effect.”
Loudermilk said the garden registered 40 total artisans for the show, but Saturday’s inclimate weather affected some of the attendance both for vendors and for visitors compared to previous years. But it didn’t dampen the spirit of those who made it out.
“I went into today super excited after six months of work because we had all 40 positions sold out, but we get a cold, chilly, damp day and people start pulling either because their work is sensitive and being out in the dampness would ruin it or family emergencies or what have you, but I’m still really thrilled with the artisans that we have,” she said.