Does coffee taste better in a potter’s mug?  Carr McCuiston, Atlanta’s leading champion of contemporary American craft makers and owner of The Signature Shop Contemporary Craft gallery, would say so.  She starts her day by choosing which exquisite handmade mug will hold the morning’s first brew.  (And I thought I was fancy when I bought a French coffee bowl!)

Carr was already smitten with handcrafted art as a teenager when she worked part-time at The Signature Shop, then owned by its founder, Blanche Reeves.  Blanche took Carr under her wing, teaching her the business from the ground up. She’s carried forward many of her mentor’s traditions, such as a commitment to representing emerging artists and regularly hosting exhibitions that enable her to share both her wealth of love for and knowledge about contemporary craft with visitors to the shop.

In addition to running one of the oldest continuously-operated craft galleries in the country, Carr incorporates fine craft into her everyday life.  It’s no surprise she’s decorated her home with a treasure trove of handmade pieces.  “I love the crazy fact that these artisans spend an unbelievable amount of time making that one perfect thing,” she says,  “and there will never be another one just like it.”

Carr’s one-of-a-kind contribution to contemporary craft in the Atlanta region has earned her recognition as a “Style Maker”  by the American Craft Council (ACC) during the 2012 ACC Atlanta show.   She and 11 other arts-forward Atlantans were chosen by the ACC from among nearly 50 contenders that range from arts leaders to leading arts aficionados.  “Carr has an extraordinary eye,” says Jim Hackney, a board member of the ACC, “she’s simply the interface for great craft and the Atlanta community.”

Well, when you stop into her gallery, you’ll know exactly what he means.  And believe me, that’s one time you DO NOT want to leave your checkbook at home!