There is something to be said for handmade, and my Great Grandma Anne encompassed everything, “handmade”. Growing up, each Wednesday, we would go to her house before piano lessons to visit and eat cereal cookies. The cookies amazed me as they always tasted delicious but never quite the same as last week. Come to find out she always used just “whatever was in the cupboard” to make them. This was my great-grandma, a loving woman with an uncanny ability to just pull bits and pieces together into something wonderful.
Some of my most cherished possessions are items that were handmade by her. She made my nigh-nigh (baby blanket) from scraps of my mom’s wedding dress - which she also helped sew. She gave me a beautiful gold necklace with the serenity prayer etched on the back for my confirmation, which I am certain was handed down as she rarely bought anything new. But it served its purpose so well, I wore it on my wedding day, long after she had passed. She also lovingly crocheted a blanket as a gift for both me and my sisters’ wedding days, several years before those days ever came about. Just thinking of the planning and love that went into those blankets still gives me goosebumps, as you see she passed away when I was a sophomore in high school, well before I was ready to get married.
Many years before I received that last blanket at my wedding, my sister and I received a quilt from Grandma Anne as a present. We were in elementary school and gave each other “the look” when we opened it. It was a typical patchwork quilt, with scraps of this and that, and neither of us were sure we wanted it on our bed. The material didn’t match and the seams were all over the place; but it was comfy and it got used anyway. Somehow it ended up at college with me and then my first apartment. I was wrapped up in it many nights while my husband was deployed and curled up with it often when nursing my babies. For years it was the go-to blanket for story time, blanket forts and when someone felt under the weather. Even though today there are rips and holes to go with the mismatched fabric and uneven seams, it is still wanted, needed and loved, because it is handmade.
Tucked into my bookcases at home, in between family photos, books and trinkets are more handmade creations. A wooden angel painted by much littler Aleigha, handprint art our family did together, pottery the kids brought home from school, a painting Angie did at my kitchen table, and even an old block of wood with the words “I love you and you love me too.” printed in black crayon by six-year-old Charley, have added to my collection over the years. Sprinkled in are the creations of artisans I have met over the years who have inspired me by their passion and grit and given me encouragement to keep going in my own art.
I want to walk into my house and see the memories made over a lifetime, not a perfectly staged room like a page from a magazine. For me this means piecing together the décor of my house, one memory at a time, always changing and always evolving to tell our family’s story.
Here at The Norway Center Store we value the handmade. We see the people behind the products. Behind each uneven seam or accidental fingerprint in the finish, we see the creator. We know the bravery it takes to release handmade products into the world. We see the hours upon hours it took to get to the place where the maker felt maybe good enough to try to sell these pieces. We see the artisans creating early in the morning and late at night, making time for their passion in between all of their to-dos. We see these people – our vendors – pouring their heart into each piece, one by one, just like my great grandma did, just like my kids do, and just like we do.
Each month we carefully curate our store, considering all the pieces our vendors have created and our theme of the month to bring you a new shopping experience each time you come in. We get excited when our vendors share their new creations with us, explaining how they finally mastered a new technique. We cheer with them when their pieces find their forever home during a show. And we are proud of them, when we can see the fruits of their labor pay off in providing more income for their family.
Each piece created by our vendors tells a story, sometimes it is about the history of a repurposed item or about the maker, sometimes it is about the nostalgia the piece sparks for the customer who takes it home, or the memory it will become when it is given as a gift. We are honored to share these meaningful creations with you to help you curate your home to tell your own story.
Hi! I'm Jessy, one of the co-owners of The Norway Center Store and co-authors of the book Faith Over Fear: Walking Angie Home. My husband Kyle and I live in an old general store, converted to residence, with our three kids, Ally, Charley and Rad and our German Shephard dog. You will usually find me with paint on my clothes creating my next repurposed piece.