*You’re Welcome Savannah has teamed up with the talented students of Scribble Art Studio to help bring some holiday cheer as we count down the days til Christmas. Periodically, we will post images which the students have made to be showcased on the blog. Today’s image is by Waylon Gibson age nine.
Tell us about the Chocolate Lab. What inspired you to work with chocolate?
The Chocolate Lab is my little shop here in Savannah where I make artisan, hand-crafted candy bars from local, organic, and fair-trade ingredients. Making candy bars is the culmination of a love of craft chocolate, a strong belief in hand-crafted food, and serious sweet tooth. Currently I don’t have a retail location – I just do wholesale from my shop. I do have an online shop where I offer a local pick-up option once a week.
Were you formally trained in the art of chocolate?
I never trained formally in pastry or chocolate. I left the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where I was pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in Studio Art to pursue baking and pastry on my own. I moved back to Savannah where I had lived when I was attending SCAD and started waiting tables until I found a job baking. I became really interested in chocolate, so I read a lot and experimented in my spare time with recipes and techniques. I worked on the recipes and the idea for The Chocolate Lab for a couple of years before I opened the shop.
Name your top three products.
Goat Milk Caramel Bar (best selling and personal favorite)
Chocolate Nougat Caramel Bar
Drinking Chocolate (personal favorite)
You’ve had a solid amount of success thus far. On the flip side tell us about your most difficult challenges in the chocolate business.
There are always new challenges, especially in the first year – everything is new and there are a lot of unexpected obstacles. The best thing you can do is to have good people on your side. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have Kay Wolfersperger designing my packaging and brand – I don’t know where I would be without her. Right now I’m experiencing a lot of growth, which is really exciting and brings its own set of problems to be solved. I just look at them and say “What else you got?”
What is next for The Chocolate Lab?
I have more ideas than I have time to execute them! I’ll definitely have a Limited Edition Bar for Valentines Day – the Knockout: Chocolate Caramel & Chili Spiced Chocolate Nougat in Dark Chocolate. Other than that I can only say that the sky’s the limit!
How did you become an interior stylist?
As my husband, Jimmy, will attest, I’ve been moving around our furniture in our home(s) since we were first married. It started as a way to re-love old pieces, especially when we were on a tight budget, and turned into something I became very passionate about. I started to help friends style their homes and got the bug… which I have since passed to my daughter. I tend to say “styling” more because I like to work with what people already have and add signature pieces and “WOW” moments to rooms.
What is one thing about yourself that most people would be surprised to know?
My son-in-law thinks I’m in the Witness Protection Program. I can, here and now, state that I am definitely NOT.
What design trend are you tired of?
Design, like most things, is cyclic. It’s hard to say that you’re tired of something because in a couple of years it will be back on trend. Clevrons are fading on me, but I do have two perfect chevron chairs in my home that will probably be around for a little while longer.
What colors do you tend to use the most?
It really does depend on my mood. I love gray. I tend towards grays for paint color… Benjamin Moore’s Sparrow is amazing. I have it in my home, at Clutter, and my daughter, Brooke, has in in her home (love Benjamin Moore’s Kitty Gray and Thunder, too). Then I bring in colors with art and accent pillows. For others, I pull from their personality and try to reflect them in how I style their home.
If you could live in one historical figures house, whose would it be?
Uncle Si from “Duck Dynasty”. I think we could put a lot of great taxidermy in his home… maybe some awesome hides and furs. And he’d be hilarious to work with.
What is your most treasured possession.
I have a large crayon drawing that Jimmy did almost sixty years a go when he was a boy framed in my office. I absolutely love it and it will never be in Clutter. But most everything else will (besides my children and grandchildren) be for sale at Clutter at some point when I’m ready for a little change.
After a long day at work, how do you unwind?
Jimmy and I like to watch reality TV. A lot of “Duck Dynasty” that’s two mentions in one post if you’re counting!) and “Swamp People”. And I like to look up homes for sale on Realtor.com. Just like seeing how people stage their homes for sale and imagine how I would style them. It’s like mini-voyeurism. Having had our ten homes over the years, I am always looking for another “diamond in the rough” to transform. Every home we have ever owned was special… to pick one… our favorite… would be difficult.
If you had one entire day to stroll through the streets of Savannah, what boutiques and restaurants would you visit?
For starters, I would go to our neighbors, Maison de Macarons, for a little sugar rush. They are such sweet gals and make the most delicious treats. I’d get a large sweet tea from McDonald’s… I know it’s not shopping local, but it’s VERY necessary… and I’d head to The Paris Market and Clipper Trading. I’d stop by Matty’s Trash and Treasures in Midtown to say hello to my dear friend, Matty, and then I’d probably take a nap at The Rest Stop. Just right in the middle of the store on one of their awesome beds (wink, wink, nudge, nudge…. they’re great!). After that, I think I’d be spent and refer to the question above to unwind.
Do you have any firm styling rules?
Use pieces you love in your home. We can all look at Elle Décor and drool over pieces, but if they aren’t tied in with pieces you love (hand-me-downs, antiques, unique finds), the whole thing is going to feel a little staged. AND collaborate. Styling should be a conversation, not one person dictating what “looks good”. The homes I am privileged to help homeowners with should never reflect my tastes but the person who live there… and that is the most important part of styling… listening.
What do you like and dislike about living and working in Savannah, Georgia?
I grew up here and my kids grew up here, and I absolutely love living and working in Savannah. My favorite part about our little city is that it still feels like a hidden secret… like we know something that the rest of the country hasn’t figured out quite yet in living here. I’ll never leave. And I’m practically spilling over with pride to be a small business owner in this beautiful town and adding even a smidgen to my home.
You are the co-founder of SeeSAW. Tell us about this movement within Savannah.
I co-founded SeeSAW, See Savannah Art Walls, with friend and fellow artist James “DrZ” Zdaniewski in order to create a culture in Savannah where local art, local business, and community engagement could be synthesized through public art projects while simultaneously creating opportunities for Savannah and its creative community to engage in a global cultural dialogue.
Under the banner of SeeSAW, DrZ and I worked with Ellen Harris of Savannah’s Metropolitan Planning Commission to create a mural ordinance and policy after public works of art on private property were arbitrarily buffed by the city and/or resulted in illegal signage citations for property owners. At that time there was no way to formally apply to paint a mural on private property. The rights of what a building owner can or can’t do in Savannah is another discussion altogether, but in order to create a mural culture in Savannah a policy was necessary and we got it done.
The first iteration of the mural policy was approved in late 2011, under that policy SeeSAW successfully petitioned for a designated mural wall at 34th and Habersham Street, the first wall of its kind in Savannah. The policy went through several reviews over the course of 2012 and a final version was approved and officially implemented into city planning by Savannah’s City Council in January of 2013.
Tell us about your mural on Montgomery Hall.
The Montgomery Hall mural is a collaboration effort between SCAD, myself and SeeSAW. SCAD commissioned me to create a vibrant, energetic mural in the style of my personal fine art. Together we came up with a visual concept that reflects the history of the location as an individual hub, and the current hive of ideas and creativity that it is now. Obviously the scale of the mural makes a statement with its physical presence (66 feet x 30 feet) but just as important, the size of the wall symbolizes the fact that SCAD is undoubtedly endorsing a culture of contemporary pubic art in Savannah. I can’t give SCAD enough credit for allowing me to let loose. Vice President Glenn Wallace and Amy Zurcher pushed me to go all out. Everyday I worked on that mural was a pleasure and an honor. Its taken a lot of support and sacrifice from friends, family and the Savannah community to make the Montgomery Hall mural possible, and for me, that wall is 1,900 square feet of validation for those that got us here.
What’s the hardest thing about creating street art?
In terms of facilitating sanctioned public art, the hardest thing is creating works that are intriguing, challenging, and honest while being respectful to the people and neighborhood in which the art will live. You will never please everyone, nor should you try. Art is at its best when it leaves no room for indifference but context must be a consideration.
How has your art evolved throughout the years?
My work has devolved back to natural, loose and gestural mark making. For sometime I was creating work that looked fluid and energetic at the end, but the process itself was tight and constrained. I’ve been getting back to the instinctual flow. My brush handling skills have gotten stronger. I think that’s a by-product of understanding what kind of lines I intuitively want to pull. I’ve become more in tune with my entire body as a mechanism to pull a brush stroke. I enjoy working on pieces over extended periods of time, re-visitations as Troy Wandzel calls them.
If you had the chance to take your work on the road, where would you travel?
There are so many choices. I’d like to go somewhere with no agenda and absorb myself in the stimuli. I’d be interested to see the new ideas and images that would come from that.
Website: www.hebermehl.com & www.savannahartwalls.org
Twitter: @Hebermehl_Art & @SavArtWalls
It’s the most wonderful time … of the month! Snuggly cute new mobile device wallpapers from Lindsay Williams of Blank Canvas Graphics are destined to bring some holiday cheer to even the biggest bah-humbug.
Pick between a bundle of Christmas trees (without the fallen pine needles!) or a stylish reindeer and get ready to feel the holiday excitement rush through you! And for you iPad folks, there are two kissing reindeer! Twice the holiday fun!
To get the mobile holiday cheer started, click on the links, save the image and then email the design to yourself. Next, head to your phone, save to your photo library and set as wallpaper. If you are already on your on your phone, save the image directly to your library and set!
So snuggle up, enjoy the cute wallpaper, and put on some Mariah Carey Christmas tunes!
Cheers and happy holidays!