Vendors & Friends
When Box Of Charleston began to explore the idea of sharing the “favors and flavors” of the Holy City, it was a no brainer that a Sweet Grass Rose would be included in each box. With just an idea in my head, I headed down to the City Market and began to stroll and chat with local vendors and artists. One of the first people that I stopped to chat with was my friend John Nelson. Better known on the market as John “Da Artist” Nelson, he is a local creator of Sweet Grass products and baskets. I wanted to get to know John better, so I recently had an opportunity to sit and discuss his wonderful creations as well as “who” is John Nelson. Born and raised right here in the low country, he began making Sweet Grass products when he was “knee high to an ant” he says. Making baskets comes natural as he’s been surrounding by folks doing this his entire life. Not only is he an artist of these amazing creations, he is also retired from the military. After serving and then not being able to deploy again, he found himself with issues like anxiety, insomnia and other issues due to his time in the service. Not knowing what to do next or which direction his life would take, John turned back to making baskets and other creations with Sweet Grass. He tells me that baskets in a sense saved his life. Not only was he able to generate income, he found himself feeling better, not as anxious and most importantly, being able to sleep again.
One of the aspects that differentiates John from some of the other Sweet Grass Artists is his creative ingenuity. Often, he isn’t sure how the creation he’s working on will finally come together. But one thing for sure as seen in these pictures, his baskets and other creations take many many hours to create. In fact, one of the baskets pictured here took him 120 hours to complete. Although he spends hours perfecting his art, he was quick to point out he is the father of 3 and married to his bride Netra for over 22 yrs. John can usually be found Wednesday – Sunday in his typical spot right outside of the first or second building at the market. Ask anyone, they’ll tell ya where he can be found. If you’re interested in seeing more of John’s work or contacting him directly, please visit his website. Also, look for us to be incorporating more of John’s work in our holiday boxes in the next few weeks.