Summer ready: eats, art and bugs

Beautiful bugs

A South Carolina jewelry designer turned an insect with an ick factor into gold.

The artist: Charleston native Mini Mariana Hay studied art at Clemson University. After graduation, she worked a summer in New York City before returning to Charleston to work in the family-owned store, Croghan’s Jewel Box. Her mother challenged Hay to come up with a jewelry line that was unique to Charleston.

The inspiration: Roaches or “palmetto bugs.” The creep crawly critters were unwelcome visitors to old houses, like the one Hay grew up in, in historic Charleston. The Goldbug Collection was not what her mother had in mind. However, she encouraged Hay to make a necklace and gauge the reaction. The first piece Hay created was sold the first day.

The goods: Cast in brass and plated in 14-karat gold, the Goldbug Collection ranges from delicate necklaces and earrings to bold statement pieces

What’s popular: The large bug drop earrings ($110), the small bug stud earrings ($60) and the large bug cuff ($250).

Unusual request: For a breast-cancer survivor, Hay made five bugs of 14-karat gold on a necklace. The fifth bug was created in rose gold to celebrate the woman’s fifth year of being cancer free.

Claim to fame: Recently named as one of the “50 Most Progressive” people in Charleston by Charlie magazine. She and her sister (Kathleen) also were listed in Southern Living’s “50 People Changing the South in 2015.”

Where to buy: or when in Charleston at Croghan’s Jewel Box, 308 King St.

Hang it up

Atlanta native Kira Yancey-Willis creates ceramic wall art that feels fresh and inviting.

The company: Yancey-Willis Ceramics was founded in 2004 in Atlanta.

The artist: She began her work with clay as an undergraduate psychology student at Georgia State University and then went on to earn a master’s degree in public administration and work in the non-profit sector. In 2004, Yancey-Willis decided to make the transition from hobbyist to professional artist — and set up a full studio in her home.

The goods: Decorative ceramics ($300 to $1,400) for the wall. Most of the playful pieces are framed in shadow boxes.

What’s popular: Cottages and trees ($400 to $1,200).

Other favorites: Fruit pieces ($275 to $350) in zesty citrus colors.

Where to buy: and the Atlanta Arts Festival Oct 24-25 in Piedmont Park.

Chiller sandwiches

Dawn and Thomas McCulloh have raised the bar on ice cream sandwiches.

The company: Atomic Ice Cream Sandwich started in 2012 in East Atlanta.

The founders: The couple started the business with no formal training (Dawn went to school for fashion design, and Thomas studied film), but they wanted to take advantage of the growing food movement in Atlanta and create a business of their own.

The company name: Atomic is a reference to the McCulloh’s love of Atomic Age design.

The goods: Ice cream sandwiches ($3 to $3.75). Each sandwich is hand crafted and uses local, all-natural ingredients. Cookies are made by Thomas. Atlanta-based Honey Suckle Gelato is the source of the cold filling.

Best seller: Dutch chocolate cookie with vanilla bean gelato.

Where to buy: Several intown and Decatur-area locations, including The Mercantile. For other locations, check

Best of the South

Do you have favorite finds from around the South that you give as gifts, buy for your home or rave about to friends? If so, send your suggestions to: Also find more Southern-made products, featured in the AJC, at Southernfinds on Facebook or twitter@southernfinds1.