THE HEART: APRIL MORGAN

I arrived in Alabama from New York on December 23rd, 2000, to start the project that has become Alabama Chanin.

When I was writing the proposal for the project, I called my aunt Elaine to ask if she might help me find a house to rent near her, in the community where my grandparents had been raised. She had just moved back herself, after years of living and working abroad and I thought – who better to help?

My aunt was living in my maternal grandparents’ home. As a newborn baby, I was brought home to this house. It has been the only constant in my life since my birth. Growing up, I spend a LOT of time with my grandparents and knew their land like the back of my hand.

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HEATH + ALABAMA CHANIN

It’s officially launched.

From the HEATH website:

“The point of intersection between stitch and clay. A collaboration between Natalie Chanin and Heath Ceramics yields an anthology of carefully crafted modern heirlooms in a new and permanent dinnerware line.

This collection celebrates texture and a range of layering possibilities in thoughtfully curated place settings, plates and serving bowls.”

Shop our tabletop collection @ HEATH Ceramics

 

HEATH @ HOME

It is no secret that I adore Robin Petrovic and Cathy Bailey from HEATH Ceramics.  My daughter Maggie loves their son Jasper – and I follow her very smart lead.  (The kids have most recently been sharing the iPhone App Cookie Doodle drawings with one another.) Cathy and Robin are the kind of designers that you want to be and the kind of people you just want to stand next to.  One part cool, one part super smart, one part gentle family, they are wholly open, terrifically kind, and just plain engaging.  I am grateful to have them in my life as both friends and colleagues.

Our HEATH and Alabama Chanin Collaboration launched last week with additional textile pieces coming this coming week.  The work includes plates and bowls in full table settings along with napkins, tablecloths and other soft tableware. Continue reading

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AFTER LEAVES OF GREEN

It is going to take me weeks to express the joy, inspiration, and love I found at the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium.  (And it will take a lot longer to lose all the weight I found. Strange what a side of pork and a case of beer can do to the body… just kidding – well maybe.)

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WORD OF THE DAY: GROW

Grow – verb:

To increase by natural development:
Our collection continues to grow.

To arise or issue as a natural development from an original happening, circumstance, or source:
Our friendship grew from common interests.

To increase gradually in size, amount, etc.; become greater or larger; expand:
Over the coming weeks and months, the collection will continue to grow – while old favorites move away.

Our experiment in the evolving face of fashion.

LEAVES OF GREEN

We are finishing up our costume fitting this morning for the Collard Opera.

The excerpt from Leaves of Green below ran yesterday on The Huffington Post.

Click here to download the full text.

When I was real little, my mama would say,
“Child eat your collards, don’t push them away.”
But that word made me shudder, and I’d beg and say “Please
I don’y even like Spinach, don’t make me eat these.”

But after my pleading, bad becomes worse.
“You don’t eat your collards, you get no dessert!”
So I mustered enough courage to take the first bite
And I found out then that my mama was right.

 

So now when I look at a table that’s spread
with casseroles, pastas, fish, meat, and bread,
I search through the bounty and say, “By all means
Fill up this plate with them Collard Greens.”

I am in love with Oxford, Mississippi and the Southern Foodways Alliance…
xoNatalie

Leaves of Green
Sunday, October 30, 2011, 10 am
The Lyric Theater
Oxford, Mississippi

ODE TO THE COLLARD

I have been waiting (patiently) for seven years to attend a Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium and this is the year I will finally be able to go.  Yes, it is a seven year charm.

I am packing my bags to leave today for The Cultivated South. This includes a carload of costumes for LEAVES OF GREENS: THE OPERA, an homage to all things colewort, written by Price Walden, and performed by University of Mississippi Music Department students, with accompaniment by Amanda Johnston and costuming by Alabama Chanin.

Pictures and stories to come…
xoNatalie

ODE TO THE COLLARD

How do I love thee?
Let me tell the tale,
Oh Southern Stalk of Life,
Grand Collard, Queen of Kale.

I relish thee with chowchow,
Onions strewn about the plate.
Red pepper pods adorn thee,
Fat Back’s Monarch, Ham Hock’s Mate.

I delight in thee with cornbread—
Hard-crusted, dry, dark brown,
And sopped in thy pot liquor—
Garden Green of Great Renown.

I revere thy rare refinement;
In greased glory, art thou luminous.
Tho’ pintos suit thee best,
Thou art enhanced by all leguminous.

I value thee, Great greenness,
Money’s Sign shall never waver.
Joined by jowls and paired with peas,
You enrich my New Year’s flavor.

I praise thy tasteful leaves,
Emerald-hued and smooth as silk,
Perfumed by vinegar’s vapor
And pursued by buttermilk.

I commend thy aromatic air,
A bouquet not soon forgot,
As you sizzle in the skillet
Or lie larden in the pot.

Swallowed greedily at midday
Or gulped icy at the dawn,
Sumptuous Scent of Salivation,
My appetite becomes thy pawn.

I adore thee, Sweetest Collard,
Acclaim thy might, and homage pay.
Thy fame shall live forever
Tho’ thy smell may fade away.

—Teresa T. Cameron, Cameron, NC