By D. Lanier Shook March 19, 2014
We’ve shared about the incredible shops, galleries, and restaurants in the Biltmore Village before (click here to read 5 Reasons You Need to Visit Biltmore Village) and yesterday we spent a few hours taking our own advice. We had lunch at one of the fine dining establishments and then spent nearly an hour browsing the Southern Highland Craft Gallery. They’re located in the old Biltmore Oteen Bank Building which is located right across Sweeten Creek Road from Biltmore Village.
The Craft Guild has been in the building for about six months and it was high time for me to visit. The Guild’s website (click here to read the article) says the Georgian style building was built in 1928. It’s a beautiful building outside and just as gorgeous inside. The Guild has done a wonderful job preserving the building’s grandeur while filling it with their particular brand of grandeur.
The hour I spent browsing the merchandise was not nearly enough and I’ve got to go back for another visit. You can click here to visit the Craft Guild’s website to learn exactly why. This is an organization of over 900 artists who live in the Appalachian Mountains and are juried. This means they are judged by their peers. The items in this Gallery are a great value and whether you’re looking for a gift, home decor, or just something awesome for yourself the Craft Guild is a place to visit.
The Gallery at 26 Lodge Street contains merchandise from 300 of the Guild’s 900 plus artists. However much you’re interested in spending you’ll find something here. For example, you can pick up greeting cards for under ten dollars to designer fly rods for two thousand.
One item extremely useful piece of art are the clocks from Canton based Sabbath Day Woods. (Click here to visit their website.) Their creations range from smaller items to a gorgeous one with a copper foil face to the clock. They also had an incredible variety of serving boards and cutting boards available.
Another intriguing item was a variety of aprons, tote bags, hats, wallets, note pad covers, flower pots, and lamps made from recycled feed sacks. The sources for this material are birdseed and pet food bags with a vinyl-like surface. One I looked at was lined with material from a banner from a Guild promotion. If you want to make a statement about your commitment to the environment these would be perfect for you.
I also noticed beautiful brooms from Friendswood brooms based in Leicester. (Click here to visit their website where you can browse their merchandise and even read a tutorial how to make your own broom.) These brooms are made from local materials and combine utility with art.
Whether you’re buying a book for your child’s library or buying greeting cards, check out Ellie Kirby’s offerings. (Click here to visit the Troutdale, Virginia based artist’s website.) Her greeting cards and children’s books feature well executed watercolor illustrations. I can attest that’s not easy to do.
The offerings of pottery would justify an entire article. Marti Mocahbee’s work reminds me of ancient Greek black and red figure artwork. (Click here to read the Wikipedia article about the Greek work, then click here to check out Marti’s gallery of work to see what I mean.) Of course I have to mention Alexander Matisse’s huge pots — three foot high— that are worth a trip by themselves. To get an idea of what these look like click here to visit the East Fork pottery gallery.
The clothing section is full of dresses, purses, handbags, hats, scarves, jackets, wraps, neckties, and baby clothes made by local craftspeople. These include Cara May Knits whose blog declares that life is too short to wear boring clothes. (Click here to visit their website.) Another one is Rebecca Owen from Canton, whose website you can visit by clicking here. These are fashion designers whose creations are not only beautiful but also allow you to wear a label that is more than just fashion.
The jewelry section could also fill an entire article. The Gallery offers over 200 pieces Stuart Nye designs. (Click here to visit Stuart’s website.) The jewelry counter offers earrings, rings, bracelets, necklaces, and even knives. Shelby Mihalevich’s knives offer impressive craftsmanship, Damascus steel, and leather sheathes. (He’s a Haywood Tech alumnus whose website you can visit by clicking here.) Jewelry offerings by Delphia Lamberson, David and Nissa Vrooman(click here to visit their website) and others reminded me of ancient Greek designs.
You also need to look at a Kestrel carved from Jim Sams that looks likes its stuffed, not wooden. (Click here to visit his website.) Jim McPhail’s bowls were made with frost cracked ash burl. (Click here to visit his website.) George McCollum’s miniature woven baskets are fascinating. Chris Ramsey’s wooden cowboy hats are not only a work of art but also are intended to be worn. (Click here to visit his website and see what I’m talking about.) Allegheny Treenware (click here to visit their website) and Berea College Crafts (click here to visit their website) offer scores of kitchen appliances that make incredible additions to your home or an incredible present.
There is so much in this store I literally do not have the space to cover it all in one article. For a glimpse of what is they you need to click here to visit their website. That’s a great place to start not only to find out what merchandise they have to offer, but also to locate one of their six galleries. Whether you live in Asheville, are visiting Gatlinburg, or live hours north the Craft Guild has a location where you can experience what I’ve been describing. Check out these locations where you can experience what I enjoyed.
- Allanstand Craft Shop at the Folk Art Center off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville
- Guild Craft Shop on Tunnel Road in East Asheville
- The Southern Highland Craft Gallery in Biltmore Village which is what you just read about
- Parkway Craft Center at the Moses Cone Manor on the Blue Ridge Parkway
- Arrowcraft in Gatlinburg
- Cumberland Crafts in Middlesboro, Kentucky