EPISODE 023: Made by Hand - How Artisanal Pursuits Produce Connection to Self, Others, and a Magical Perspective
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“We’re bringing beauty and grace and joyfulness into the most basic needs of life. And I think that is the fundamental nature of what it is to be human.” That’s the crux of this week’s episode with Stephanie Stewart-Howard: an actor, a scholar, an artist, a costumer, a storyteller, a writer.
In this candid conversation, Stephanie explains what it means to be involved in crafts that were traditionally considered “women’s work” and what that means for her. She delves into the importance of hand making items that last and the historic evidence of making as a human act - what happens to you as you get in touch with the raw materials. We flow in and out of discussion surrounding all the arts Stephanie is involved in and their impact, ranging from food writing to historic reenactment.
Listen in to not only learn about how Stephanie’s moving with her military family as a child and her career influenced her ability to relate to people and to find the magic in life through artisanal endeavors.
Stephanie gives amazing tips for connecting with others, including recognizing and removing your own anxieties from the interaction.
What it means to be an artist and a maker.
Becoming a costumer.
Textile and fiber arts, knitting, embroidery
Trying new things.
Taking pride in doing things for yourself, in a era where machine making is prevalent.
Evidence of ancient humans adorning their bodies - proof that making is a human act.
The concept of fast fashion.
Stephanie life growing up - moving around with the military.
Living in Greece as a toddler - seeing the acropolis through the window in the mornings.
Stephanie on lessons learned from moving and traveling: “You learn that people are all the same, but at the same time, they don’t view themselves as all the same.”
“People identify with where they’re from.”
How military children don’t identify with where they’re from and may have a hard time adapting as an adult.
The concept of home.
Writing as a job: technical writing and journalism.
Cats! Norwegian forest cats…
Meeting artisans, artists, and chefs through lifestyle journalism.
Doing something you love can become exhausting.
Writing poetry and fiction.
The irony of food writing.
“Food is one of the great human pleasures from our earliest understanding of who we are as people.”
Consciously choosing to make food as delicious as we could.
Flavor fusions that are happening now in Nashville and the traditions behind “New Southern Cuisine.”
“The same things that troubled people in 1795 and 1845 are still troubling people and we’re still trying to solve them today.”
On what connects us in modern life to humans of the past: “The desire to make ourselves safe but at the same time make ourselves joyful.”
We’re bringing beauty and grace and joyfulness into the most basic needs of life. And I think that is the fundamental nature of what it is to be human.”
Technology encouraging sameness
If we’re ever in danger in terms of humanity using our brains, it’s turning of creativity and self expression
Making connections with other people.
How to adapt to other people’s quirks to connect.
“You have to be careful not to write your anxieties on other people.”
Connecting through hobby organizations.
What disconnection feels like.
Rising in the ranks of the SCA.
STEPHANIE’S AMAZING BOOKS
Nashville Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from Music City (First Edition)
Follow her on Instagram @StephanieGwen13.
ALL THE COOL STUFF STEPHANIE MENTIONS
Craeft: An Inquiry Into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts by Alexander Langlands
Emil Erwin - Handmade handbags in Nashville, TN
Olia Zavozina, wedding dress designer
Where Nashville Magazine - Found in hotels in town
Tyler Brown, chef
Tandy Wilson, chef, of City House
Pat Martin, chef
Hal Holdebash, chef
The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten
Kathleen Cotter’s Southern Cheese Festival
Vivek Surti - Taylor Nashville
Jennifer Matthews at the University of the South