Sport & Outdoors winners.
Silver Tears Campers
Woodie Tailgater, Roanoke
It may be surprising to know that John Davis, creator of Silver Tears Campers’ Woodie Tailgater—which is indisputably the coolest piece of equipment you’ll see at any tailgate, anywhere—doesn’t want to be known just for his custom made teardrop campers, even though they’ve caught the eye of major style influencers, including Neiman Marcus, Architectural Digest, Orvis, and Virginia’s own luxury leather maker Moore & Giles.
But it makes sense when you learn that the 52-year-old Roanoke native is a man of many talents.
Davis is also a custom furniture designer and a musician (he was studying to be a conductor when he was first introduced to woodworking), a restorer of Airstreams and builder of wooden boats, a product designer and general creative solution-finder for myriad architectural challenges.
“We do what everybody else doesn’t do,” explains the soft-spoken Davis, who has been in the business of creating beautiful things since around 1989. “It all relates.”
His high-end woodies reflect this varied experience. You might even say they represent the marriage of his artistic ingenuity and penchant for practical, intuitive design.
Inspired by the elegant lines of 1940s Chrysler Town & Country wood-paneled wagons and coupes, the mahogany and ash 4-foot by- 8-foot or 5-foot by- 10-foot tailgater is kitted out with space optimizing fixtures like a pull-out bar with copper tub, shelving for glassware, liquor and bartender’s tools, and back- and up-lighting to show it all off. Inside can be a combo of leather upholstery, game tables, televisions and more storage—the whole thing is completely customizable. And practical. At a relatively light 800 pounds, even a Mini Cooper could pull it with ease.
The Woodie Tailgater is smart luxury. “People love gorgeous handmade beautiful woods and finishes, made in pleasing proportions and shapes,” says Davis. “Everybody’s going to come over and talk to you when you’ve got a spread like this.” $45,000 - $80,000. SilverTearsCampers.com
Tinkham Decoys and Folk Art
Photo by Mark Edward Atkinson
Spencer Tinkham traces his passion for wildlife carving to when he was 8 years old and his grandfather gave him his first pocketknife. Starting with walking sticks and bars of soap, he practiced until he could recreate the migrating ducks he saw off the pier of his Norfolk home. Even after his grandfather passed away, he says, “I kept carving to feel close to him.” Now, having taken up woodcarving full time after graduating from Baylor in 2015, 24-year-old Tinkham creates 100-150 traditional wooden decoys and pieces of wildlife folk art each year for sale to museums and private collectors. Owls, gulls, mallards, even flounder and trout—Tinkham’s creations are elegant yet weathered, full of rich colors and natural patterns. Each is made entirely from materials found on the small, uninhabited islands of the Chesapeake Bay; he has turned a circa 1880 water tower into a black-backed gull, and an old telephone pole into a set of owls. “I want to make not just piece of art but a message and reminder about conservation,” says Tinkham, “each piece has a provenance, a history and a story before I even start carving it.” Pieces start at $300. TinkhamDecoysAndFolkArt.com
Join or Die Knives
In Brent Stubblefield’s hands, a bit of charred barrel oak from a brewery or even a baseball bat can be transformed into the handle of one of his custom knives. “I like to do that, because it’s something like an heirloom item right away,” says the 35-year-old Alabama native. Recent commissions have included a pair of knives with handles crafted from deer antlers for a newlywed couple and a set with handles made from brandy barrels for a party of groomsmen. And though the length, size, steel and the geometry of the blades are all different, all of the self-taught knifemaker’s pieces begin with a conversation, and a sketch. “Just like you’d talk about a renovation project or any sort of custom build,” he explains. Which fits, considering Stubblefield describes his approach as more akin to creating sculpture than straight up milling and machining. Stubblefield makes all-purpose knives with longer blades for the outdoorsman as well as kitchen cutlery, pocketknives and even a small knife that can be worn around the neck as a pendant. $100-$500. JoinOrDieKnives.com
Natural Bug Spray, Richmond
Photo by Liz Brower
“My bug spray came from a desire to create something that was as effective as it was lovely,” says master aesthetician and certified massage therapist Tricia Boor, founder of APOTHEC, a line of all natural bath, body and home products. Boor’s natural bug repellant—which smells more like perfume than serious insect killer—combines essential oils like eucalyptus-lemon, lemongrass, red thyme, geranium and basil with healing and inflammation reducing ingredients like lavender, chamomile, witch hazel, coconut oil, aloe vera and castor oil. First developed for a loyal following of clients traveling abroad to mosquito-prone locales, Boor’s bug spray—like all of her products, which include lotions, body soufflés, herbal infused oils and mists—has multiple uses. It can be safely sprayed on plants and on countertops to repel bugs and used to cool and relieve bee stings and other rash-inducing insect bites. This spring, the line of bug spray will expand to include a lotion, salve and a kitchen counter cleaner. Says Boor, “You smell good, it feels good, it hydrates your body and it’s a healer.” $22 for an 8-ounce bottle. ShopApothec.com
See all of our Made in Virginia 2016 Award winners!
Andrea Donnelly Studio, Richmond
Loopy Scoops, Haymarket (category winner)
JM Stock Provisions, Charlottesville and Richmond
Ula Tortilla, Afton
Virginia Chutney, Flint Hill
Mother Shrub, Richmond (category winner)
Vitae Rum, Charlottesville
Big Fish Cider Co., Monterey
Copper Fox Distillery, Sperryville
Jake's Clay Art, Waynesboro (category winner)
Blanc Creatives, Charlottesville
Jaeger & Ernst, Barboursville
Winners were selected by the editors from among hundreds of submissions received earlier this year.
Click here to see 2015 winners.
Click here to see 2014 winners.
Click here to see 2013 winners.
Click here to see 2012 winners.