Tag Archives: Will Manning

Martha Stewart American Made Awards: Heartwood Forge

Heartwood Forge - Hand Made Knives | Oysters & Pearls

Remember way back when I wrote about my friend Will Manning at Heartwood Forge?  Will was gracious enough to let me poke around his shop, explain his knife forging process to me in detail, and I’m now lucky enough to have a handful of his gorgeous (Garden & Gun Made In The South finalist) knives hanging in my kitchen.

Will hand cuts and forges each knife from reclaimed lumbermill saw blades.  His knives are well balanced, sharp, heirloom quality, and utterly beautiful in their simplicity.

Hand Forged Knives from Heartwood Forge | Oysters & Pearls  Heartwood Forge Knives at Due South | Oysters & Pearls

Heartwood Forge Oyster Knife | Oysters & Pearls   Heartwood Forge Knives at Sturdy Brothers FLAUNT Pop Up Shop | Oysters & Pearls

Maiden South, Featuring Julie Guyot and Heartwood Forge | Oysters & PearlsJessica and I used my very first Heartwood Forge knife in our first Maiden South photoshoot, and now we are fortunate enough to have a couple of his gorgeous knives for sale in the shop.

My husband, Wheat, got me one of Will’s perfect oyster shuckers for my birthday last year, and I use the chef’s knife Will made for me almost every single day.


I wasn’t surprised at all when Will emailed me to tell me that Heartwood Forge was a FINALIST in the Martha Stewart American Made Awards.

American Made spotlights the maker, supports the local, and celebrates the handmade. The program is made up of people and communities that have turned their passion for quality craftsmanship and well-designed goods into a way of life.

For more than 20 years, Martha Stewart has celebrated this spirit of innovation in the pages of her magazines and on her television shows. Now, through American Made, Martha Stewart and the editors of Martha Stewart Living are spotlighting the next generation of great American makers: entrepreneurs, artisans, and small-business owners who are creating beautiful, inspiring, useful products; pioneering new industries; improving local communities; and changing the way we eat, shop, work, and live.

We believe we are in the midst of a shift in our culture where creative entrepreneurs are defining a new American economy. From Detroit to Des Moines, Spokane to St. Louis, people are choosing Main Street over mini-malls—supporting the local and the handmade. Our country’s makers are sparking this change by taking a leap, banking on their creativity and craftsmanship, and living their version of the American dream.

Preach, Martha.

Visit Heartwood Forge’s Finalist Page over at marthastewart.com and check him out, and maybe go back and visit this old post of mine (it was one of the first pieces written about Heartwood Forge!) and get to know Will and what makes his knives so special.  Voting in the American Made Awards begins TODAY, September 21st, and winners are announced October 23rd.

A vote for Heartwood Forge is a vote for handmade, for goods made to be passed down to your grandchildren, and for the maker movement, but most importantly, it’s a vote for a really great guy who is simply doing a damn good job at what he loves to do.  

Hand Forged Knives from Heartwood Forge | Oysters & Pearls

What could be more important than that?  Put your clicker where your heart is and vote here.

Until Next Time - oysters and pearls


I haven’t posted many posts about the random stuff going on in my life lately.  I usually save Mondays for those types of posts, as they are usually iPhone pictures from the weekend… but I’ve been completely slacking in that department.  So, I thought I would throw some together to update y’all on the random stuff that’s been going on.  Warning: if you follow me on Instagram you’ve probably already seen all of this.  Or at least, a lot of it.

As suspected, we cannot get enough of little Miss June.  I mean, can you?

June the French Brittany | Oysters & Pearls Sleepy June, French Brittany Pup | Oysters & Pearls Wallace June: Best Friends | Oysters & Pearls

I just die.  Wallace is such a great big brother.  He is constantly playing with her, tolerating her, and giving her kisses.  Harold is still mostly ignoring his new sibling.

I will spare all of you the selfies I took of my swollen-shut eye.  Our very aggressive hive of bees kind of got really mad at us a couple weekends ago, and I ended up getting stung approximately five times on my left eye… not to mention the plethora of stings I got in my hair, on the rest of my face, and the rest of my body.  I ended up breaking out in some serious hives, but nothing emergency-inducing.  No pain, no gain, I suppose.  We are going to re-queen that hive and see if a nicer queen makes nicer bees.  The good news is, they make lots of honey.  And uncapped honey held up in the sun reminds me of my other favorite hobby: stained glass.

Honey Bees and Honey | Oysters & PearlsWe went to a wedding this past Saturday (Congratulations Logan and Clay!) and the neat lodge they had it at outside of Thomasville (Owl & Moon in Dixie, Georgia) had the most beautiful stained glass panels in it.  I was obsessed.

Snowy Egret Stained Glass Panel | Oysters & Pearls

Speaking of stained glass, I made my mom this hummingbird fan-pull.  It turned out really well, and she really loved it.  We love our hummers!

Stained Glass Hummingbird Fan Pull by Oysters & Pearls

I also made this little hanging wall vase, and I’ve been enjoying these succulent flowers over my nightstand all week.

Stained Glass Wall Vase | Oysters & Pearls

My sweet friend Lauren Dunston of LGDunston sent me one of her practice gyotaku fish prints last week, and I can’t get over how awesome it is to have a gyotaku print that I watched her make.

Shrimp Gyotaku Print fron LGDunston | Oysters & Pearls

Speaking of awesome friends, check out this unreal tobacco slat skateboard that Marc of Southern Restoration Furniture made!

Marc Ventry's Southern Restoration Furniture Tobacco Slat Skateboard | Oysters & PearlsThey aren’t currently for sale yet, but you could always email Marc and say pretty, pretty please

And my friend Will of Heartwood Forge is making me a knife… with my initials in it.  I am already so excited and cannot wait to start using it in my kitchen!

Heartwood Forge Custom Utility Knife for Oysters & Pearls Heartwood Forge Custom Utility Knife with Stamped Initials | Oysters & Pearls

I’m constantly amazed at the skill and talent of so many of the people I’m fortunate enough to call my friends, so many of which are completely due to writing this little ole blog.  I’m grateful every day!

We took June and Harold home to my parents to have supper with my dad last Sunday while my mom was at the beach.  June went for her first swim in the pond behind my parents’ house.  She loved it!

Bristol Pond | Oysters & Pearls June the French Brittany's First Swim | Oysters & Pearls June the French Brittany's First Swim | Oysters & Pearls

And for your ultimate viewing pleasure:

All kinds of things are always blooming in my parents’ yard.  This is a native plum azalea that I noticed blooming.  My dad said it was the first time it had!

Native Plum Azalea Bloom | Oysters & Pearls

 His night blooming cereus was about to bloom, too, but unfortunately we didn’t spend the night to watch the evening show.

Night Blooming Cereus Bloom | Oysters & Pearls

I can’t wait for ours to bloom so Wheat can see it!

A few evenings ago, Wallace brought us a juvenile banded water snake, which was 1) weird because we don’t exactly live in a swamp, and 2) they are really aggressive normally, so it was odd that he didn’t try to bite Wallace!  Don’t worry, their bites are supposed to hurt, but they are not venomous.  They’re often killed because of their resemblance to a Cotton Mouth, though.

Juvenile Banded Water Snake | Oysters & Pearls

Catch and release in heels before work. ;)

Speaking of work, Maiden South’s location is coming along.  Or at least it’s a bit cleaner and prettier!  Exposed brick makes us swoon.

Maiden South Renovation | Oysters & Pearls

 I stopped by a sweet gal’s house after work Wednesday to meet her chickens and learn a bit about them.  We chatted birds and bees and swapped pumpkin for eggs.

Chickens in Bainbridge | Oysters & PearlsDon’t you fret.  I’ve got coop plans in the works!  I’m sure you’re all shocked.
Any recommendations, tips, coop plans, etc. for me?

And to end on a flowery note, sweet Wheat sent me a beautiful orchid this week at work.  It is gorgeous!

Orchid from Singletary's in Thomasville, Georgia | Oysters & Pearls

Happy weekend, y’all!

Shop this post:
custom forged knife: Heartwood Forge Knives
gulf shrimp print: LGDunston Gyotaku
tobacco slat skateboard: Southern Restoration Furniture
native plum azalea: Native Nurseries

orchid: Singletary’s Flowers

 You may also enjoy:
Southern Makers: Heartwood Forge Knives

Southern Makers: LGDunston Gyotaku
Southern Makers: Southern Restoration Furniture
Meet June

Meet Wallace
Maiden South

Until Next Time

Friday, I love you.

Have I mentioned that it’s been one of the longest weeks ever?  I feel like I haven’t slowed down and stopped moving in days.  Oh wait…

I haven’t cooked myself (or Wheat) a meal in a week.  And that’s only if you count the savory baked egg muffins I made last Sunday morning.  Not that I mind being busy – obviously, I bring these things on myself.  But I’ve never looked forward more to a quiet night at home alone, cooking a meal from start to finish, having a glass of wine, and listening to the St. Paul and the Broken Bones Pandora station in the kitchen than I did yesterday afternoon.  If you haven’t yet gotten hooked on St. Paul, let me introduce you.  I first heard about the band (where else) on NPR.  Instead of reinventing the wheel (I’m so tired, y’all), I’ll just let NPR tell you about them.

One of the hottest new bands out of Birmingham, Ala., doesn't sound new at all. On the new album, Half the City, St. Paul and The Broken Bones hits all the marks of a classic Southern soul band, complete with a fiery lead singer. Speaking with NPR's David Greene, bassist Jesse Phillips recalls the first time he experienced the voice of frontman Paul Janeway.
"I'd been warned of what comes out of Paul's mouth when he opens it," Phillips says, "basically because it's a big surprise for most people."
A surprise, he says, because the singer doesn't exactly look the part.
"Paul, according to all the reviews and stuff that are written of the band, he looks like your high school history teacher, or he looks like Drew Carey," Phillips explains. "Bottom line is that we're a bunch of kind of nerdy-looking white guys, and when this sort of earth-shaking soul roar comes out of his mouth for the first time, you can always hear the air being sucked out of the room."
Janeway wasn't raised to be a soul singer. He grew up in rural Alabama in a strict religious household.
"I could only listen to, like, gospel Christian music," Janeway says. "And a little dash of Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye."
And he got most of his musical chops from church. He even trained to be a preacher.
"I learned more from preaching than I did singing in church," Janeway explains, "because you learn a little bit more about how to interact with the crowd — feeling momentum, just feeling that intensity — and it's not a whole lot different than what we do now."
But eventually, Janeway would fall out of love with preaching and begin to look for another path.
"Dad works for a pavement and construction company," Janeway says. "He said, 'Well, boy, if you're not going to college, you're going to work.' He found me a job, basically, as a mechanic's assistant. I'd cut the grass, I would do all sorts of stuff — but when the economy crashed, I lost my job, and I was unemployed about a year and a half.
"And I met a lady," he adds, "and decided that I wanted to kind of figure out what I was going to do with my life. I went to community college, and after a little while I kind of started to be attracted to accounting. ... What's crazy is that I'm about two semesters away from getting my accounting degree, and then this music thing showed up and ruined my life."
"It's really difficult for me not to sing every time like it's the last time I'm going to be on the planet," Janeway explains. "I don't care if we're playing to five people or 5,000, I have a mental thing in my brain that clicks that it's like I've got to give every possible fiber of my being into my voice right now when I'm singing."
The music has its roots in church, and religion is still part of Janeway's life — but the relationship remains complicated.
"Not agreeing with what is predominantly taught growing up the way I did, I had a lot of animosity toward the church," he says. "One time there was a woman with cancer, and they were telling her, 'All you need to do is say you're healed.' And she tried to so hard, and tried and tried and tried, but she eventually died of cancer, and she died thinking that she didn't have enough faith to be healed. And that really resonated with me. I still think about that to this day."
As for his parents, Janeway says that in retrospect he's glad they were so strict. He remembers a particularly formative moment when his mother found his copy of Nirvana's Nevermind.
"She found it and threw it away," he says. "I told her that story, and she goes, 'Listen, Paul, if you'd have listened to Nirvana, you wouldn't have been a soul singer.' So, I look at it now and go, 'Well, maybe it's turned out to be a really good thing.' "

This guy gives me chill bumps.  Close your eyes and you’d never know this wasn’t a Motown record of yore.  I grew up listening to Motown music on a Wurlitzer juke box (yes, really, we had one at home), so it’s only natural that I fell head over heels with St. Paul and the Broken Bones at first listen.  And I love that he looks more like a book worm than Otis Redding.

So now that you’re listening to some sweet, sweet tunes, here are some other things I’m loving this week (now that it’s almostttttt over).

On Tuesday, I stopped by TCA Artist in Residence Julie Guyot‘s studio over at 209 Remington yet again.  I plan to go back one more time before I share all the details with y’all, but just look at the vase she gave me!  I watched as she formed these last time I was there, and this was the last one she had left.  It made for an exciting anniversary afternoon!  The decals on her ceramics are hand drawn, and Adult Education Director at Thomasville Center for the Arts, Ashley Ivey, turned her drawing into a printed flour sack towel, too.  I struck it rich on Tuesday, and Ashley gave me one of those, too. Thank you Ashley and Julie, for making it a great day!

Ceramic Vase by TCA Artist in Residence, Julie Guyot | Oysters & Pearls

I die over the bees.  As y’all can imagine.

Side note:  Julie is busy as a bee listing some items on her Etsy shop Six Milch Cows right now, so get ’em while they’re hot!

Tuesday I worked late, and later that evening Wheat took me to Chophouse on the Bricks in Thomasville for our anniversary on Tuesday, and it was great.  The food was amazing, but I cannot tell a lie – the service was a little weird.  I should clarify: the drink service was slow, but the food service was too fast.  I just don’t like to feel rushed through a meal, and I also don’t like to be without a glass of vino (y’all know me).  I almost hate to even say that on here, since it was totally minor and didn’t make us enjoy our meal any less or anything, but I am nothing if not honest, so… laying it all out there.  Anywho, the food was some of the best we’ve had in a long, long while. It’s an indulgence for your average Tuesday for sure (especially when you also order two appetizers), but it was a wonderful second anniversary dinner.  Plus, the building is just gorgeous!

Ceiling Tiles at Chophouse on the Bricks in Thomasville, Georgia | Oysters & Pearls

Chophouse on the Bricks | Oysters & Pearls

Martini Tuesday at Chophouse on the Bricks in Thomasville, Georgia | Oysters & Pearls

We had the tuna tartar with pickled slaw and an order of fried oysters over collard greens with a mignonette sauce… possibly the highlight of the meal.  I cannot recommend either enough!

Oysters over Collards and Tuna Tartar at Chophouse on the Bricks | Oysters & Pearls

For my entree I ordered the Grassroots coffee rubbed filet mignon with a Cabernet goat cheese butter pat (divine) over haricots verts and Sweet Grass Dairy Lil’ Moo polenta.  SO GOOD.  Wheat got a cane syrup crusted NY Strip over a veggie hash that was delicious, too.  Clearly we were all aboard the protein train.  #surfnturf

Grassroots Coffee Rubbed Filet Mignon at Chophouse on the Bricks | Oysters & Pearls

Staircase in Downtown Thomasville, Georgia | Oysters & Pearls

Downtown Thomasville, Georgia | Oysters & Pearls

Wheat gave me a present for our anniversary, too… a custom oyster knife from Heartwood Forge!!
Heartwood Forge Oyster Knife and Southern Restoration Cutting Board | Oysters & Pearls

Isn’t it gorgeous!  Quite possibly the most thoughtful, planned-in-advance gift Wheat has ever gotten me!  And super special, since Will is a friend.  And he even put my initials on it!

Heartwood Forge Personalized Oyster Knife | Oysters & Pearls

It’s pretty baller, and I can’t wait to try it out on some oysters…  I may have to start carrying it around in my purse next to my purse-Crystal and bust it out at restaurants.  (Yes, I really do carry a small bottle of Crystal hot sauce at all times.  You just never know.)  By the way, the cutting board background is my Southern Restoration tobacco slat cutting board from Marc Ventry.

And what holiday is complete without a gift to yourself?  My bracelet from Black Swamp Co. came in, and it is amazing, too!

Black Swamp Co. Cypress Bracelet  | Oysters & Pearls

This particular bracelet is made out of ~1000 year old sunken cypress from the swamp behind maker Katie’s house.  It’s gorgeous!  Look for more on Katie and Black Swamp Co. on the blog next week… ;)

And finally, I ended the week – because let’s be real, by the time you make it to Thursday night, the week may as well be over – with this precious:

Strong and Bold Red Wine from the Sweet Grass Dairy Cheese Shop | Oysters & Pearls

Lenore is a solid, full-bodied Syrah that really hit the spot last night.  And with that, I bid you good weekend.  Cheers!

Until Next Time