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Jul. 8—SMYRNA — Cigar boxes speak to artist Mary Wilson.
Not in a literal way, she said, but in an inspiring way: she repurposes cigar boxes that were destined for landfills with art, jewels, and hand painted designs.
"I'll look at the colors and the size of the box, what I've got to do, and it tells me what it wants to do," Wilson said.
She sells the bedazzled boxes, which boast designs ranging from Harry Potter to Renaissance paintings, and handmade clay angel statues at the Smyrna Handmade Market.
According to Jodi Mills, recreation services superintendent at Smyrna Parks & Recreation, the market where Wilson and many other vendors sell their goods on Wednesday evenings is unique because they've carved out a space for nontraditional market goods.
"It's not just a true farmers market. We've got local artisans selling their jewelry and their crafts," Mills said. "We brought a spot for them to come and sell their awesome products."
The market is young: it began operations this June and, according to Mills, is growing every week. They started out with 12 vendors in mid-June, and by July 7, they were up to 20.
Wilson said the difference in the Smyrna Handmade Market not only lies in the focus of product vendors, but also the attitudes of shoppers who attend.
"Smyrna is so supportive, they're great," Wilson said. "At these markets, people come to buy. They don't come to just look."
Though it was only his first night as a vendor, Aaron Hickman, owner of The Ghost Generation with his wife Laura, said he could feel the difference in focus and attitudes from both the organizers and the shoppers at the Smyrna Handmade Market.
"It can be hard to find where you fit in, especially when you're weird like us," Hickman said with a laugh. "It's a good vibe here."
Phia Keyser, a market attendee and Smyrna resident, said she values the handmade focus of vendors in the market and the sense of community it inspires.
"It's a very warm kind of feeling," Keyser said. "Everyone is so friendly, and everything is handmade or homemade, which I think is really important. That makes it unique, and the way more things should be."
For Wilson, the good vibes and fuzzy feelings go far beyond her connection with customers. The Smyrna Handmade Market provides a space for her to share her passion about art and how it has acted as a lifelong support system after a miserable childhood.
"This saved me. Art was my refuge. This is where I could go into, tune out the world, and create beautiful things," Wilson said.
The Smyrna Handmade Market is held every Wednesday, June to October, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Taylor-Brawner Park in Smyrna.