Sarah Brobst, owner of Sarah Brobst Designs, talks hubcaps, sustainability, and making her hobby a profitable side-hustle.


By: Payton Boyd

Sarah Brobst first tapped into the craft scene as a college student by collecting hubcaps that detached from cars during rain storms. “ Backstory–When I was in high school, me and my friends collected hubcaps…we would watch somebody’s hubcap fly off their car


Knoxville Entrepreneur Sarah Brobst

and we thought it was the funniest thing.” She hung the hubcaps on her dorm room wall, some of them eventually being featured in gallery shows.

Eventually, Brobst began to focus on creating jewelry and brooch bouquets in her spare time. “Mostly what I do is jewelry but before that, it was big mixed media sculptures and collages and the painted hubcaps, and it morphed into this.” By finding a gap in the fine jewelry market of Knoxville, Brobst found her success by creating her pieces through sustainable practices, an idea that she carries with her throughout her daily life.

With a love of re purposing objects often seen as trash by others, Sarah had little-to-no startup costs for Sarah Brobst Designs. Once Brobst began to book gallery shows, she obtained her business license for both the county and city, costing her fifteen dollars each, and obtained a website. Her business license qualifies her for tax exempt status, and she is now able to purchase some of the specific items she needs through wholesale accounts, though her mission of creating her pieces from mostly recycled objects allows Sarah to dig through scraps to find most of the materials she uses rather than creating large overhead costs.

Brobst takes items such as broken watches and an earring missing its match, takes the items apart, and makes statement pieces out of the material. “My people like to wear something a little bit funky, but not too over the top that they couldn’t wear it every day”.

Her business is nearly ten years old, and she maintains a local presence by setting up a booth at both the Downtown Farmer’s and Holiday Markets here in Knoxville. “Over these ten years I have learned the whole gamut of what it takes to run a business and be a single person business owner and how it should be run and what not to do.” Brobst advises soon-to-be entrepreneurs to “learn all that you can about running a business, like taxes…don’t always go with friends.”

She says that finding out who your buyers are, and determining the price points you feel comfortable with is important in learning what does and doesn’t work when owning your own business…as well as having a reliable accountant.  According to Brobst, having an online presence is important, because people are buying a lot of things online now.

Brobst spends around twenty bucks a month to keep her website up and running, but promotes social media as a free way to build up clientele. Sarah Brobst Designs tends to have an audience of customers who are in their thirties, forties, and fifties. She flourishes as a business owner through being accessible to all budgets, with her own price points for jewelry ranging widely to diversify her audience demographic.

In addition to jewelry, Brobst found a market for brooch bouquets.

A few years ago, Brobst began to create brooch bouquets with leftover gems and parts of materials that she typically used for her jewelry products. Brobst allows her customers


Screen grab of a brooch bouquet, Sarah Brobst Designs page

the option to provide their own materials that she uses to create the bouquets, which allows customers to cut down on the cost of personalized pieces.

Soon after beginning to create brooch bouquets, Brobst was given a booth for fashion week, and her brooch bouquets were used in the bridal runway show. Bouquet orders continue to come from places across the country, and HGTV recruited her to host a tutorial on how to create your own brooch bouquets.

Brobst stated, “My high point was when I was focused 110 percent on it (Sarah Brobst Designs), I was making more making jewelry and art than I was at my full-time job. Now my full-time job pays bills, and my business profits are a bonus.”


Knoxville Medical Professionals Offer Possible Explanation for Opioid Misuse

The adolescent use of tobacco and alcohol could be linked to future misuse of opioids according to medical professional Bill Lee.

Cornerstone of Recovery  interventionist Bill Lee said, every addict begins their use in nearly the same way, primarily with adolescent use of alcohol and tobacco. “Opioid misuse is not something that people traditionally use in a vacuum, there is usually some kind of using history to that.”

Opioids are drugs that are synthetically produced to have similar effects to opiates that are derived directly from the poppy plant.


Cornerstone of Recovery Rehabilitation Center

Lee stated, “The vast majority of people start with substances other than opioids, and as they progress through the addiction progress their peer group starts to change…with other people comes other chemical availability.”

Young adults can be introduced to opioids medically following surgeries, according to Lee. If the same people who are introduced to these prescriptions have a history of addiction, their use of prescription opioids could get out of control.

Lee stated that the illness of addiction isn’t really about the drug, but about the brain.

Addicts think differently, even when they aren’t using. Opioid misuse causes the brain to create more opiate receptors than a non-user has, which causes the user to have to use more of the substance to plug extra receptors.

Lee explained, “Prescription opioids on the street are getting incredibly expensive, with one opioid pill costing upwards of forty to fifty dollars. Somebody can get one bag of heroin for ten dollars, causing an attraction to heroin.”

According to Lee, a medication called Buprenorphine exists to help opioid and opiate addicts detox, but insurance companies won’t pay for the medication because the opioid and opiate detox process isn’t lethal.

Advisor of UT’s Rocky Top Recovery group Rebecca Juarez said “… Opioids act as a central nervous system depressant, which can cause slurred speech as a result of the slowing of communication between the central nervous system and the exterior parts of the body.”

According to Juarez, street heroin has a similar structure to prescription opioids, which causes overdoses to look similar for these two substance groups. “Opiates are substances that are derived from the opium plant, so those are things like heroin…Opioids are synthetic, so they are developed to chemically appear like an opiate.”

Pellissippi student Brandon King said that the use of opioids is more prevalent in the college setting because of the introduction to a more diverse group of people who come from different backgrounds.

According to King, it is popular for young adults to mix opioids with alcohol. “If someone is already drunk and someone begins to pass around pills, a person can use being drunk as an easily justifiable excuse to take the pill.”

King also stated, “A patient seeking treatment for pain can walk into almost any clinic and receive medication for said pain… I went and had minor surgery on my leg where I did not need pain pills for recovery, but the doctor went on to order a large prescription of painkillers. Doctors should be held accountable for doing this.”


Millennials Explain Low Voter Awareness in District Elections

Students of UTK said Tuesday evening why district elections do not receive as much attention from voters as the presidential election.

UT political science major Hannah Blackwell said, ” I don’t think that people our age think about how state and local level elections affect us. I think people focus on the presidential election a lot and think that it makes the biggest difference in our individual lives, but really it’s the state and local elections that make the difference.” According to Blackwell, voting at the local level aides in the passing of legislation specific to the area where you live.

The House of Representatives election is every 2 years, which allows districts of each state to vote on who will represent their region in congress.


Howard H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy

Blackwell said, “Representatives in Tennessee have more of an effect on the policies that get passed in Tennessee than the president does….If you talked to pretty much anyone, most people wouldn’t know the names of the candidates or their views on policy.” Blackwell stated that people might not vote if they oppose republican views because Tennessee is a republican state and they feel nothing they say will make a difference.

According to Blackwell, district candidates do not have as much campaign funding as presidential candidates, which results in less advertising and less voter awareness.


Stephanie Harwell shortly after voting.

UT nursing major Stephanie Harwell said, “I think that the younger generation follows a lot of what’s going on in social media and you don’t see or hear things about local or state government on social media as much as you are hearing about the presidential election. The past few years I’ve been on Twitter and Facebook, and you don’t see a lot of people talk about local elections.” According to Harwell, the locations of voting sites for these elections are rarely publicized.

Harwell said that another potential drawback for voters is the fact that local election days are not treated as holidays when they aren’t on presidential election days. People may not have time to go vote locally in those cases.

According to Harwell, publicity is a huge factor in voter turnout. “People just aren’t as aware. Everyone knows when general election days are, but no one knows when local elections are.”

UT political science and film studies major Austin Turner stated, “I think there is less concern for local elections from most demographics and I think that comes from people feeling disconnected from the political process.”

According to Turner, mayoral, state representative and other local elections are more important than national elections because voters can see the political process and how it can help our lives. “I have recently felt like less people see politics as a source for good so maybe we take less of an interest in it because we don’t think it can help us.”

Women of Islam find empowerment within the verses of Qur’an

The Qur’an’s verses were originally written to empower Muslim women according to Asma Afsaruddin, professor of Islamic Studies in the Department of Near Eastern Languages & Cultures at Indiana University.

Afsaruddin stated, “Qur’an 33:35 uses language deliberately inclusive of women and maintains the absolute religious and spiritual equality of women and men….Women who can read and understand the Qur’an themselves draw their power and strength from it.”


Asma Afsaruddin seen above during discussion

According to Afsaruddin, the Qur’an gives women a say in contracted marriages, owning their own property during marriage, and allowing divorce if necessary. Specifically, the Qur’an allows women to expect equal treatment from their husbands.

The roles of Islamic females shifted during the Common Era. Traditionally known as Fuqaha’, Islamic jurists began to use the Qur’an verses to revoke the rights of women, and to show favoritism towards the male.

Afsaruddin stated that during the time of the Prophet, women attended the mosque in Medina. Today, many countries claim to adhere strictly to Islamic principles, yet prohibit women from going to mosques.

According to Afsaruddin, men have primarily interpreted the Qur’an, and their interpretation has become authoritative.


UTK student Walker Godfrey seen picking up a brochure for the lecture

Afsaruddin stated, “The notion of women as the tilling ground of men conveys a positive evaluation of the sexual and procreative functions of marriage to be regarded as good deeds for which one will earn heavenly rewards. On the contrary, male jurists have construed this verse to imply that women are the sexual property of men.”

According to Member of Knoxville Islamic society Drost Kokoye, there are different scholars within Islam that interpreted the Qur’an’s teachings and made decisions on how people can live their lives. “One of the topics that scholars don’t agree on is that men are allowed to marry outside the faith while women are not. Some will say, they are not allowed to but many will say they can, it’s just a matter of where their faith lies.”

Kokoye stated, “A lot of people are preconceived to the notion that Muslim women are spoken for, and that we are fragile and oppressed members of Islam without many rights. In reality, it is just as much our responsibility and our right to fulfill our life’s pursuits as a male in Islam.”


UTK Students use Baker Center as Information hub for Election

A tweet wall at the Baker Center’s debate screening allowed students to see their fellow classmates’ opinions in real-time Tuesday evening.


Student tweet wall used during debate

Morgan Chance, Baker Center Ambassador, said that the screenings have allowed students to voice their opinions on the election.

The Baker Center has increased student involvement in the presidential election through screening two of the three debates, registering students to vote, and becoming an early voting location.

Baker Scholar Alina Clay stated, “The screenings at the Baker Center are really beneficial for students here on campus because they provide a ready outlet for students to participate in the broad political processes. Having the screenings here and the student events that we do here to learn about the political process and learn about elections are so critical because it brings the issue to us.”

The screenings have given students a way to build their own beliefs upon facts instead of  basing their opinions on things they see while flipping through mass media outlets.

According to Clay, students are beginning to realize the importance of their own involvement in the current election issues. “When candidates say controversial things, students can see these things and hold the candidates accountable.”


UTK students watching the debate

The debate screenings held at the center were nonpartisan, or political-party neutral.

UTK grad student Ann Harik stated that, ” I do think it’s helpful that the debates are shown on campus, and I do think it’s helpful that it’s nonpartisan. I think a lot of students feel like their voice doesn’t matter, and we need to remind them that their vote matters.”

The Baker Center also helps students register to vote and is a site of early voting for this election. Registered voters will be able to come to the center to vote early  Oct. 31st-Nov. 3rd.

Nissa Dahlin-Brown, Associate Director of the Baker Center, said that close to 2,500 students registered to vote at the center in a  competition with the University of Florida to see which university could register more students to vote. UTK won despite the fact that UF has a significantly larger campus population than UTK, with UF having a population of nearly 50,000 students.

According to Dahlin-Brown, the student-organized Voterpalooza and mock debate helped to spread awareness about the upcoming early voting period. The center is also using outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to remind students about the opportunity to vote early.


The Great Debate of GMO Ethics

A group of local scientists gathered at UTK on Thursday night to dispute the positive and negative implications of using GMOs.

According to Elena Shpak, Dr. of Biochemistry & Cellular and Molecular Biology, “GMOs are plants that may have been genetically generated…a gene is taken from some place else and placed into bacteria, they multiply, and then it is put inside of the plant.”

 As a self-titled advocate of GMOs, Shpak feels the reason GMOs have a bad reputation is the lack of public support due to grocery stores beginning to label their produce if GMOs were used in the growth process.


Board of speakers at GMO discussion

GMO-labeled produce inflicts fear upon shoppers who often interpret the sticker as warning not to buy the labeled items.

Shpak told a story of the once-diminishing papaya population in Hawaii, and how she felt GMOs were beneficial in resolving this issue. The papaya population in Hawaii was attacked by a virus that was killing off the native plant when scientists decided to genetically modify the papaya. Following the modification, the genetically modified papaya was resistant to the virus and is now thriving. 

In dispute, UTK Graduate student David Garcia spoke about people who are fearful of GMOS, and how we should focus on learning how to destroy them. “We don’t really know what GMOs can do to our body or biodiversity, so one of the better advancements that have come out in the last two or three years have been systems that attach survival mechanisms onto the transgenic DNA, such that if it gets out in the population, it immediately kills it.”

Garcia also spoke how he feels how the studies that are finding ways to destroy GMOs act as a safety net for the general public.

Another speaker at the event, botanist Dr. Wusheng Liu, mentioned what he felt are the benefits of using GMOs in the agriculture industry. Liu stated that GMOs have both increased the amount of people fed and decreased the cost for farmers who grow the crops.

In response to the discussion, Dr. Amy Wolfe, leader of the Society-Technology Interactions Group at ORNL stated how she felt about GMOs by saying, ” I think its wise not to think of them as accept or reject…in my experience over the years looking at a variety of different emerging technologies that could be controversial, one of the immediate responses you hear among scientists and federal agencies is that we have to educate the public, but that is not the only way to get you from extreme rejection to happy acceptance.”


Two former professors of Anthropology at UT give insight into Knoxville’s history

Charlie Faulkner and Timothy Baumann spoke Tuesday night about finding a Masonic watch fob and a tinkling cone which they believe once belonged to James White.


Faulkner, left, lecturing with Baumann, right

Charlie Faulkner, a retired Distinguished Professor of Humanities in UT’s Anthropology Department, was one of the two lecturers who spoke about James White and the archaeological site of White’s homestead.

Faulkner began the excavation at the original site where White’s log cabin fort once stood in current-day east Knoxville. According to Faulkner, this fort was one of first buildings in Knoxville.

Initially, the dig was part of a road development project for the Department of Transportation, which limited the amount of the site that could be excavated by Faulkner.

A Masonic watch fob was found at the dig. James White was a part of the Masons, and  Faulkner stated that he is “pretty much convinced” that this fob belonged to White.

A tinkling cone was also found on the excavation site, which was an ornament made of metal that Native Americans would attach to their clothing and weapons which made a “tinkling” sound when moved. Faulkner said that this find, “..indicated that Native Americans had visited White, there’s no question about that because he was known among his settler friends to be very,very friendly with the Indians.”

According to Faulkner, White actually died on the plantation where his fort stood, but not inside the fort itself. This structure was occupied for quite a period of time after his death in 1821, which caused overlap in the different features and artifacts found at the site.


Most of the dinnerware found on the site was of orange and green colors, which was common in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. According to Faulkner, a fragment of a Chinese porcelain plate was also found that indicated the wealth of those living in the home.


Faulkner displaying White site artifacts

Faulkner stated that the British were the largest distributors of dinnerware until the late 19th century. When speaking about the dinnerware found at the site he said, “They came all the way from the coast in here, they were setting the same kind of table here in Knoxville that they were setting in Charleston or any port city.”

Timothy Baumann, current Curator of Archaeology at McClung Museum and the other lecturer present, spoke about a few of the artifacts found on the site and how they showed evidence of the cultural diversity in historic Knoxville. “The buttons are British made, that coin is Spanish…and the one thing that’s not on here are actual French gun flints that were found here, so just thing about all the material culture interaction in early Knoxville that people had access to.”









City Council Approves Increase of Grant for N. Knoxville Renovation Project

Knoxville City Council approved a $16,300 increase of the redevelopment grant for the renovation of a former North Knoxville laundry site.

The city is giving an extra $16,300 to the site’s renovation project for structural engineering service and assessment, with the budget for the renovation standing at a total of $47,862.

The increase in the grant will help to fund both the resolution of the environmental issues left behind by the chemicals used at the laundry, and the roof that has not been well maintained and has deteriorated due to weathering over time.

After sitting vacant for about a decade, the building will require both structural and architectural updates. 

The site of the former laundry also has environmental concerns that must be addressed before it is converted for further use. Deputy Director for the Office of Redevelopment Anne Wallace said, “We did receive $240,000 of grant money to be able to clean the property, it’s $200,000 from the EPA and $40,000 from local match.”

Wallace said, “At this location we are set up to expend about $800,000 dollars on the roof and we’ve leveraged the $200,000…it is at a critical location right at the intersection of Broadway and Central.”

Located at 625 N. Broadway, the site of the renovation is in the growing “Happy Holler” district of downtown Knoxville.

The vacant building was an operating laundry beginning in the early part of the 20th century, and it closed its doors sometime around 1990. Wallace said that, “Unfortunately it was left vacant..and of course that leaves the roof and other elements of the building in disrepair.”

The roof repair will cost around $800,000, while the environmental cleanup will cost around $240,000.

Once the building has been repaired, Wallace and the Office of Redevelopment plan to put the building on the market for request for proposals. This will allow new businesses to  have a possible opportunity to move into the renovated space.

The building is projected to be around 30,000 square feet and it sits on a lot that is located between Downtown Knoxville and Downtown N. Knoxville.

Wallace said that she and the board are “looking to find the most beneficial both economically but also to the general community as a whole, use of that structure.”

The project could take up to three years to be completed.




















The Fight for the Unseen

City Council meeting exposed discrimination against Knoxville’s homeless.

Peggy Sue Morrow, a current homeless resident of Knoxville, made her way to the podium and began to directly address the City Council Board by reciting the Bill of Rights. Following her introduction Morrow stated, “The police have been harassing me, moving me everywhere, and taking all of my belongings…the police told me I have three choices: to go to KARM, to go to jail, or get a ticket out of the county.”

Morrow went on to explain her personal experience with KARM anIMG_6120d how those who stay there are not treated like human beings. She then addressed how those getting tickets “out of the county” are only sent back to Knoxville upon their arrival to these new cities.

Once living on a now-raided piece of land beneath a wooded area, Morrow gave insight into what it is like for Knoxville’s homeless population to fear authorities on a day to day basis. When speaking about commuting to her then home, Morrow said, “I had to crawl up a hill to hide from the police, and when it rained, I had to crawl through the mud just to get up that hill.”

Even those who are not homeless have noticed the maltreatment of Knoxville’s homeless population.

Becky Swanson, a housewife, held the four children of her friend Jennifer Graves as she began to speak on Graves’s behalf at the podium. Soon after Swanson befriended Graves, Swanson found out that Graves was homeless and was living in a car with her four children.

When speaking about the homeless population of Knoxville Swanson stated, “These people affect me and I want to see them helped, but I see that there is no help. I’ve called shelters and they are full…we need a place for these people to go where they will not be harassed.”

According to Swanson a few hundred people do not make it into the shelters each night and Graves’s children are still spending the night in a car. Due to the lack of space in shelters, Swanson fears that Graves may have to send her children to a foster home.

Swanson closed the City Council meeting by emphasizing that the homeless are people who once had lives, and that they are working to get their lives back one day at a time.



Much More Than an Artist





The UT chancellor’s professor of art creates prints of imaginary organs and fictional civilizations.

Beauvais Lyons has had exhibitions in museums across the world. “I tend to do my work outside of the commercial gallery system. Those travelling shows have ranged from imaginary civilizations I have fake folk art to a series of prints that are kind of medical illustrations of imaginary organs and so forth.”

Teaching print making to several doe-eyed students a semester, Lyons is no newcomer to sharing his knowledge of art with novice print makers.

He received his Master of Fine Art Degree in 1983 from Arizona State University, and has been teaching at UTK since 1985.

When asked, Lyons defined printmaking to someone who knows nothing about him or his craft by stating, “Print making is a great discipline because it is a bridge between studio art and design disciplines..I am interested in the ways that the history of prints are connected to the history of science and the history of propaganda as a kind of cultural function.”

Lyons is busy tying together an exhibition at the University of Tennessee to be displayed in the fall that delves into the Association for Creative Zoology.

He has several published articles of his own stressing print theory, with his some of his writings focusing more on the practical use of print making by common people and the historical and scientific significance of its practice. In the early nineties, Lyons published an article in particular that focused on, in his words, “artistic freedom in the university” which was published by The College Art Association based in New York.

One of Lyons’s largest contributions to the University of Tennessee comes with his involvement in the Hokes Archives. Feeling that all students should strive to have a web presence for professional purposes, the Hokes Archives are an important resource for both Lyons and his students to display their work.

As the Director of the archives, Lyons explains the archives and states, “Any active artists today who is committed to having a professional identity will have their own website..if anyone wants to find out more they can look that up.”


Beauvais Lyons Contact Information:

Telephone: 865-974-3202