Wow! Just looked at the calendar only to realize Christmas is next week. I'll have to admit working at the Folk Art Center can bring out the procrastinator in me because I know I can always go downstairs and do a lot of my shopping right after work. That said, the weeks leading up to the holiday I walk through Allanstand thinking of ideas about perfect gifts so I thought I would share some with you:

Teacher gifts:

Christmas tree ornament by Walt Cunningham of Zirconia, NC ($21)

Christmas tree mini ornament by Jeff McKinley of Asheville, NC
($10 - $16)

Handwoven guest towel by Peggy Whitted of Sevierville, TN ($15.50)

Gift for Mom:

Ceramic bowl by Laurey-Faye Long of Sylva, NC ($91)
and salad tongs by Allegheny Treenware of Thorton, WV ($31)

Gift for Dad:

Wood kalaidescope for his desk by Alice Houser of Spruce Pine, NC ($95.50)

Gift for High School or College student:

Journal by Darryl Maleike of Asheville, NC ($81)
and polymer clay pen by Irene Semanchuk of Asheville, NC (30.50)

Gift for Neighbor:

Ceramic mug by David Grant of Maryville, TN ($27)

Gift for Niece or Nephew:
Toy train by Richard Nease of Gore, VA ($41)

Gift for sister or friend:
Sterling silver earrings by Barbara Joiner of Brasstown, NC ($54)

Gift for brother:
Brontosaurus wood puzzle by Peter Chapman of Bent Mountain, VA ($71.50)

And last, but not least, a gift for me:
Ceramic clock "all is well" by Chiwa of Asheville, NC ($216)

The Southern Highland Craft Guild is proud to be participating in American Craft Week which begins today and runs through October 10. One way we are celebrating is by sponsoring a raffle to raise money for CERF+ Craft Emergency Relief Fund Artists' Emergency Resource. We are selling $5 raffle tickets for the basket pictured above.

The handle basket was made by Dolly Taylor. The material used was white oak and the dyes used were walnut, bloodroot, and yellowroot. The basket comes with the Indian Arts and Crafts Board certificate of authenticity from the Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual, Inc. of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians and is valued at $195.

You can purchase the raffle tickets at Allanstand Craft Shop at the Folk Art Center or you can call the Folk Art Center: 828-298-7928 to order them over the phone. The drawing for the winning ticket will be held on October 31. You do not have to be present to win. We will also be drawing tickets throughout American Craft Week for VIP passes to the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands coming up October 21- 24 at the Asheville Civic Center

Help us celebrate American Craft Week and raise money for a worthy cause supporting craftspeople across the country!

During American Craft Week the SHCG will also be sponsoring craft demonstrations - some of the artists will supply hands-on activities or they will be donating a portion of their earnings during the week to CERF+ as well.

In addition to nearly 200 fine craft exhibitors and educational demonstrations the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands also presents live regional music. Today local band Woody Pines graced the arena stage for the first time. “I pick and choose the best sounding stuff,” said Pines. “Everything from swing band to old country blues goes into our music, along with life’s influences.” Thanks to Woody Pines for coming out to support the Southern Highland Craft Guild - we hope they will play for us at a future Craft Fair.

The music continues tomorrow with Red June, Bear Down Easy, The Fabulous Guildenaires, and The Moore Brothers Band.
Maud Boleman, booth 225

Tim Hall, booth 412

Kathryn Faille, booth 218

Ed Byers, booth 11

Jason Green, booth 21

The Guild is pleased to welcome the above members to the Craft Fair for the first time as exhibitors. It is always great to see new work and new faces at the show. We encourage you to go by and welcome them.

Day 2 of the July Show enjoyed a steady stream of visitors. We also had several visits from the local media including the Asheville Citizen-Times, Mountain Xpress, WLOS - Asheville, and WYFF - Greenville/Spartanburg. The music schedule started today and continues through the weekend.

The Summer Edition of the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands has begun! Featuring nearly 200 exhibitors, craft demonstrations and live regional music, the show takes place at the Asheville Civic Center and runs through Sunday. Here are a few images from the show's first day.

Fair Director Janet Wiseman and Guild Member Billie Ruth Sudduth

Billie Ruth announced that this will be her last craft fair. She will still be making baskets in Bakersville and selling them in fine craft galleries, but this will be her last show. Come by and see her and celebrate all the wonderful years she has been an exhibitor!

Felt making demonstration by Breanna Rockstad Kincaid

Demonstration by the Asheville Quilt Guild

Lace making by Rita de Maintenon

Quilt design demonstration by Elizabeth Garlington

Children's craft projects with Arts for Life

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Asheville Civic Center to celebrate the first day of the July Craft Fair. We'll be updating the blog daily with more glimpses from the show.
On Saturday Janet Wiseman and I had the opportunity to take a class at Cloth Fiber Workshop at the Cotton Mill Studios in the River Arts District of Asheville. Cloth, which is owned and operated by Guild member Barbara Zaretsky, hosts a variety of textile art workshops. We took Fabric Brooches taught by Margaret Couch Cogswell.

The class was appropriate for all skill levels. The participants included jewelers, quilters, nurses, teachers, and interior designers. The class appealed to me because I knew it would be a fun escape from my routine and a way to get the creative juices flowing. I can also see how it would be beneficial for artists who may want to try out a new technique or work with a community of peers. Everyone was supportive of one another. It was inspiring to see what everyone made - the limitless possibilities of collage.

We learned about the construction of the pin and different ways to layer fabric and incorporate stitches and embroidery to create wearable art. I loved that by the end of the day you had at least a couple of pieces you could wear right away without having to invest in a lot of materials and time. It's also something that you can have fun with on your own after just one day of instruction. Margaret was awesome - she gave each student individual attention, making sure they were making the most of their time there. She sent everyone a follow up email about the materials and directions covered. Barbara was also there - making sure everyone had what they needed and offering encouragement along the way. Since we were in the River District during our lunch break we had a picnic at River Park just down the road. A pleasant day indeed.

Margaret Couch Cogswell leading the class.

Everyone hard at work!

The next workshop coming up at Cloth is Hands On Shibori taught by Guild member Jen Swearington. Check out Cloth's website for all the details.

Of course, along with Cloth there are many other wonderful places throughout the area and the Appalachian mountains to study crafts. We'd love to hear about your favorite places to take classes - please share with us in the comments section.

Janet Wiseman and Nancy Darrell in their farmer costumes

Recently I went on a trip to Washington, D.C. with Nancy Darrell who had a sales booth and was scheduled to demonstrate wood block printmaking at the Claude Moore Memorial Farm. The site is a replica of a working farm circa 1771 and hosts three Fairs or "Market Days" a year as fundraisers. I thought it would be interesting to experience another side of craft shows since I have been on the organizing/directing side of events for the last 15 years at the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands.

The Market Day was a fun, well organized event with volunteers, vendors and patrons enjoying themselves immensely, while a slew of children learned a bit of history in the process. I helped Nancy set up her booth and then we changed into our retro togs. The volunteers and vendors are required to attire themselves in the dress of that period which lends a nice feel of authenticity to the proceedings. I had hoped for a saloon girl outfit or maybe something along the lines of Daniel Boone...but was suited up in a Hester Prynne special like the rest of the poor farmers.

Some memorable snippets of the event for me were the sound of wandering madrigal singers, Madame Bella’s low-wire/acrobatic act, the smell of sizzling sausage and chicken over a fire pit, frosty Victory Stout in a handmade mug, and the beautiful healthy heirloom tomato plants I bought for my garden.

Nancy did a lot of demonstrating and talking to people about her work, and happily, she also sold some prints! I had a good experience and later thought, how wonderful it would be to have a farm and village space for the Guild’s traditional craft and music event Heritage Weekend. Also, it would be cool to have some authentic southern Appalachian food prepared at the event...or maybe some wandering mountain ballad singers during the times we don't have a band performing…some livestock here and there. It's good to get out and see what’s going on at other places and gather ideas to help keep our Guild events fresh and interesting.


On the way to D.C. we made a side trip to the home of Ellie Kirby in Troutdale, VA. Ellie has been a Guild member since 1984 and creates art with wood blocks and watercolors. She has also published a number of children’s books that she writes and illustrates.

We had an enjoyable lunch in the kitchen of her farmhouse, which was built around 1910. For dessert, Ellie made an pie using fresh rhubarb from her garden and baked in a dish she bought from Nancy at a Guild Fair in the early 1990s. That was one tasty pie!

After lunch we toured her garden which features an old-fashioned yellow rose (I think it's called Harrison’s Yellow) that Ellie gave Nancy and I a start of. Hopefully, when I see the rose in my garden it will be a nice reminder of this trip in years to come. Ellie showed us her studio and we did a short interview. She was an engaging and gracious host and I really enjoyed our visit with her and her husband Roald.


Before we left the city we spent a day touring museums and gardens on the Mall. Our first stop was the Sackler Gallery in the Freer Museum of Asian Art to see "In the Realm of the Buddha" and the other exhibits. There was something interesting and beautiful to look at everywhere in this museum and I enjoyed it. It was raining so we spent less time looking at gardens and more time inside keeping dry.

Our next stop was the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art while there, I saw something I found very moving. In Transitions by South African artist Paul Emmanuel I saw a short film called Rites of Passage which chronicled young men who had been conscripted into the army getting their heads shaved. It was powerful!

We walked down the street to the Hirshhorn Museum of Modern Art and Sculpture. This was probably my favorite museum experience of the day. We saw a painting there, "Haystack" by Arthur G. Dove that Nancy really liked.

We had lunch at the National Museum of the American Indian. I love the shape and flow of this building which I thought looked like a red mesa. The food here is interesting and tasty from a variety of American tribes.

Our last stop was the National Gallery of Art where we saw "The Sacred Made Real": Spanish Painting and Sculpture 1600-1700. There was a lot of powerful religious imagery here such as life-size representations of the cruxification. At this point, we were pretty tired and saturated from all the wonderful things we’d seen and it was time to catch the metro out of the city.

This trip was an enjoyable learning experience and I came back inspired in a variety of ways!

Southern Highland Craft Guild Annual Meeting 2010
Blue Ridge Assembly

Black Mountain, NC

April 17, 2010

Thank you to everyone who was able to attend this year's SHCG Annual Meeting. In addition to taking care of Guild business we enjoyed a wonderful weekend of seeing old friends, meeting new ones, and sharing ideas.
During the awards ceremony the following were recognized:

Honorary Membership
Tim Barnwell

Life Membership

Bill Alexander
Nancy Darrell
Bob Wagar

Lifetime Achievement
Robert S. Brunk
Arval Woody

Mary Dashiell was elected to serve on the Board of Trustees, and Sandra Rowland and Freida Terrell were re-elected to serve, joining current Board members: Lila Bellando, Teresa Brittan, Hugh Bailey, Tom Bauman, Rob Mangum, and Tommye Scanlin.

So many people and so many details helped to make the meeting successful. Here are a few details I will remember from the weekend: Nikki Josheff's daffodils brightening each locale, Chuck Hunner's signs leading the way, Tamela Well's handmade nametags to help us remember and get to know one another, the buzz of excitement during the tool swap, seeing good friends Sherry Masters and Andrew Glasgow during Friday evening's reception, hearing the punch line of one of Lee Davis' well told jokes between meetings on Saturday, hearing all about Jim Rittmann's Alabama adventures, working on the group art project hosted by Sandra Rowland, the merriment of a square dance called by Billy Edd Wheeler on Saturday night in the Bryson Gym at Warren Wilson College, and a delightful Sunday morning brunch hosted by the Herricks on top of the mountain (I've got to get that french toast recipe!).

If you have your own fun stories to share about Annual Meeting leave your comments here. Thanks, April Nance.

"The Guild sometimes seems to be an overloaded bus full of weary pilgrims and squawking chickens groaning up a steep incline. At other times it is an ark, a moveable feast, an improvised drama."
Robert S. Brunk, Guild Member since 1973

Quilt Block by Connie Brown depicting the tunnel at Craggy Pinnacle
on the Blue Ridge Parkway

I'm pleased to share with you a sneak preview of what is sure to be an amazing work of art created by the Asheville Quilt Guild in honor of the Blue Ridge Parkway's 75th Anniversary. Several members of the Guild will be creating their own "square" which will be incorporated into a wall size quilt. All the images on the quilt will relate to the Parkway. Examples include flora and fauna of the area as well as some recognizable landmarks such as Mabry Mill, Linville Falls, and the Folk Art Center.

The quilt will be unveiled at the Southern Highland Craft Guild's Heritage Weekend in September and will be installed at the Folk Art Center for visitors to enjoy for years to come. Stay tuned for more updates on the quilt's construction and the many wonderful artists donating their time and talent to this fantastic project.

To learn more about the events going on throughout the year to celebrate the 75th Anniversary checkout the website:
Last Friday we had the pleasure of visiting with textile artist Bernie Rowell at her studio in Candler, NC. Bernie has been a member of the SHCG since 1975. She creates art quilts from painted canvas, building layers of highly textural collage. She will be demonstrating at the Folk Art Center during Fiber Weekend and exhibiting her work at the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands in July and October.

This post is the first in a series called "Studio Conversations" which will give a brief artist profile of a SHCG member followed by a short video clip of them in their studio.

Last week we visited with Jude Stuecker in her studio in west Asheville. She is a fiber artist who has been a member of the Guild since 2004. She creates quilts, clothing and accessories. She will be demonstrating her craft at Fiber Weekend at the Folk Art Center on May 8 and selling her work at the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands in July and October.

Jude and her daughter, Silvia, posing in front of Jude's quilt,
"Honeybee" at her studio in west Asheville.

Display of Keepsake Quilts

Connie Brown aids visitors in learning more about their own quilts.

Robin Brooks demonstrating how to make "string" quilts.

Saturday was a lively day at the Folk Art Center. Not only were the Carolina Mountain Woodturners meeting in the auditorium (which always draws a great crowd), the SHCG was also celebrating National Quilting Day.

Connie Brown and Robin Brooks, both members of the SHCG and the Asheville Quilt Guild were demonstrating in the lobby. Connie presented an exhibition of family keepsake quilts. She also stayed busy all day helping visitors learn more about their own quilts. Connie was able to help them identify patterns, time periods and other interesting bits of information.

Robin Brooks demonstrated quilting on a small scale by showing first hand how she makes string quilts.

Several people were interested in the techniques used when working with t-shirts. Connie provided a handout that explained the technique she used for working with t-shirt fabrics. For visitors that had further inquires about the process she would show them the materials she used and how to prepare and stabilize the t-shirts.

Many people had questions about vintage and antique quilts. Many brought in their quilts for Connie to give suggestions about use or care of the textile or for her to give them general information about the quilt. Crazy quilts were a common theme with 3 different people bringing in a crazy quilt, all very different but all having that special hand embroidery that was fashionable during the Victorian era.

This National Quilting Day was the perfect example of how quilts can be a common and connecting thread. On several occasions, as a visitor was getting information about a quilt, a second visitor would make a connection. "I think I know you" or "Don't I know you from somewhere" was heard over and over, and before you knew it these visitors were reminiscing about past events. One visitor was a "blast from the past" for Connie, in the fall of 1996 they both worked at Erwin High School. A very special visitor from Black Mountain, rushed in near closing time, she just wanted to share a quilt that she had made in the 1960's, a wonderful hand appliqued "Tree of Life." Come to find out she and Connie have a mutual friend. Of those that brought in quilts, almost every one of them made a connection to someone else. After all-it is a small world.

Speaking of "small world", people were amazed by Robin Brooks' miniature quilts. Over and over, you heard "the pieces are so small, I don't know how she does that." Robin used her antique sewing machine to demonstrate how she makes them. Visitors loved seeing a vintage sewing machine and loved the fact that Robin was actually sewing with it. Robin displayed several family keepsake quilts and was delighted to share their history with interested visitors.

The Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands, with shows in July and October, may seem like a long way away, but it's never too early to begin planning for a great show.

Yesterday we met with Anna Littman and Mary Timmer from Arts for Life. Anna is the organization's Executive Director and Mary serves on the Advisory Council. These talented women are also members of the Southern Highland Craft Guild - Anna is a potter and Mary is a jeweler.

In the past, Arts for Life has hosted a children's activity table at the Craft Fair and they have agreed to return for the July Fair this year. Stay tuned for more information about the activities they will offer, activities which will be a great opportunity for kids to have their own art experience in the middle of an inspiring Craft Fair.

Arts for Life will also be curating an exhibition along the ramp leading from the Concourse to the Arena level of the Civic Center. The show will highlight work by children participating in the Arts for Life program along with photographs of the artists.

I encourage you to check out the Arts for Life website to learn about their amazing programming.

"Arts For Life is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting children and young adults facing serious illnesses. Through art education, we enrich patients’ lives and encourage positive healthcare experiences for children and their families. Arts For Life helps children all day everyday in four cities across North Carolina."
Usually on January mornings the Folk Art Center has a tendency to be on the quiet side. Last Tuesday morning was a welcome exception as four groups of kindergarten students from Isaac Dickson Elementary School made their way through the center. The children, along with faculty and parent volunteers, were participating in a program developed by the Southern Highland Craft Guild Education Committee. The committee has been working hard to strengthen school presentations. During this visit, organized by the Guild librarian, Deb Schillo, the groups made their way through four stations, each focusing on a different craft including broom making, spinning, quilting and pottery.

Barbara Merrell (pictured above) and Marlow Gates demonstrated how to make a broom. They talked about the materials used, different types of brooms and the history of broom making. They also showed the kids how to make their own small broom.

Mary Nichols (pictured above) showed the children how she spins wool into yarn. She explained that she can use raw fleece which has just been shorn from a sheep, wash it, card it, dye it, spin it and finally knit it into a shawl. This process, from sheep to shawl, gives new meaning to the phrase, “made from scratch.” She had several examples of fleece for the children to feel and she showed many of the products, such as scarves and dolls, that she makes with her own yarn.

At the quilting station Norma Bradley talked to the group about how she makes quilts, beginning with a design and ending with a finished piece of fiber art. She showed them one of her quilts, explaining the technique of applique and how she turns inspiration into various designs. The children also had an opportunity to experiment by cutting and pasting their own designs on paper. Back in the classroom the students will collaborate in making a group paper quilt.

Jennifer Hoolihan from Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts demonstrated how to throw a clay pot on the potter's wheel. She talked to the kids about where the clay comes from and how people through the years have been making pottery out of necessity. The group marveled as a lump of clay became a vase in Jennifer's hands. After the wheel demo the children were each given a bit of clay to create their own pinch pot.

Thanks to a great group of attentive students and supportive faculty and volunteers the morning of craft education was a success. Special thanks to the craftspeople who volunteered their time and expertise as well as the Guild members who were there to lend a helping hand: Marlow Gates, Barbara Merrell, Mary Nichols, Deb Schillo, Norma Bradley, Pat Bauman, Jennifer Hoolihan, and Tamela Wells.

If you are interested in learning more about craft education at the Folk Art Center feel free to call Deb Schillo at the Folk Art Center (828-298-7928) or email her at