Mountain Crafts Destinations

Mountain Crafts Destinations

John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown

More than a hundred years ago, Presbyterian missionary Frances Goodrich received a woven double bowknot coverlet as a humble gift of friendship. Goodrich was so taken by the coverlet’s meticulous handiwork she was inspired to save the fast-disappearing mountain traditions that had gone into producing it. The result was the formation of Allanstand Craft Shop, opened in 1895 and presently America’s oldest continuously operated craft shop.

Today, several North Carolina destinations are dedicated to carrying on the time-honored handicrafts traditions that Ms. Goodrich made it her life’s work to preserve. Each of these mountain crafts stops is worthy of a day trip or much more.

Southern Highland Craft Guild
Housed in the Blue Ridge Parkway’s bustling Folk Art Center just five miles outside of Asheville, the Southern Highland Craft Guild has promoted crafts made by accomplished mountain artists for more than eight decades. The Center is now home to Allanstand as well, which occupies 3,000 of the Center’s 30,000-plus square feet of crafts and more.

John C. Campbell Folk School
Founded in 1925 by Olive Dame Campbell, the idealistic widow of the missionary John C. Campbell, this unique school in Brasstown is the North Carolina version of what was originally a Danish idea: the folkehojskole or "folk school.” Today, John C. Campbell Folk School students can take one of more than 300 varied classes in subjects ranging from writing to cooking to woodworking, turning any hobby into an art form. Students can choose to stay in on-campus lodging or the campground and the school provides three meals a day for those who want them. However, even those who like to admire art rather than create it will find a haven here: The Folk School’s Craft Shop represents more than 300 juried artists and features an impressive collection of Appalachian crafts.

Penland School of Crafts
Spruce Pine
Much like the Southern Highland Craft Guild and the John C. Campbell Folk School, the impetus for the founding of the Penland School of Crafts was provided by a visionary and determined woman: Lucy Morgan. Similar to Ms. Goodrich, “Miss Lucy” had observed firsthand the impoverished conditions of what was then a woefully isolated area. So, in 1923, with just three looms, Miss Lucy established the Penland Weavers to help revive the vanishing craft and supplement the locals’ subsistence-level incomes. Word of Miss Lucy’s success quickly spread, which led to the establishment of the Penland School of Crafts near Spruce Pine in 1929. The School’s educational program has attracted world-renowned instructors for years, along with serious craft students who range from novices to professionals. At the Penland Gallery, you can see and buy work by resident artists and students, as well as Penland’s instructors.

Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual
If practice makes perfect, the beauty of Cherokee arts and crafts should come as no surprise, since crafts making skills have been passed down from generation to generation through hundreds of years. In 1946, about 60 Cherokee craftsmen who were looking for a better way to sell their wares founded the Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual. Today, the Mutual, across from The Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, offers works from more than 300 artists and is the oldest Native American arts cooperative in the United States.

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