Ruby Lowery grew up in Ellenboro in Rutherford County, where she has become known for her handmade baskets. Ruby was always interested in baskets, and she started learning how to make them through a class with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service and Montreat College more than twenty years ago. Her teacher was Helen Snyder from Mount Pleasant, North Carolina. “I will always enjoy learning new ideas and techniques from others,” says Ruby, “however, most of my classroom time is now spent teaching others.”
Ruby has taught classes at Isothermal Community College, the Cooperative Extension Service at Montreat College, and Tyron Fine Arts Center. She has been teaching classes at Isothermal for about fifteen years. Ruby has donated time in art classes at local high schools and at Mount Mitchell State Park, where she demonstrates basket weaving. “Baskets that I make are all natural reeds and are stained with natural dyes such as pecan shells and tobacco,” says Ruby. “Basket designs are a combination of traditional patterns, shared information from fellow artisans, and original patterns from ideas born on warm summer evenings.”
Ruby has participated in numerous shows since the 1980s, including Mountain Heritage Days at Western Carolina University, International Day in Waynesville, Mount Mitchell Heritage Day, Silver Arts Heritage Competition in Raleigh, the Fall Festival in Waynesville, Art Day at the Biltmore House in Asheville, and many years at the Ellenboro Fair. Her work is seen in a number of galleries including the Blue Moon Gallery in Cliffside, the Art Center in Shelby, and the Mount Mitchell State Park Gift Shop. Her baskets have won a number of awards and blue ribbons from many competitions, some of which include: Silver Arts Competition, Civil Arts Heritage Competition, Raleigh, Fall Festival, Waynesville, Ellenboro Fair, and the Mount Mitchell Craft Award. One of Ruby’s baskets was presented to Barbara Bush, and a picture of another basket graces the cover of a Handmade in America publication.
“My love of folk art and appreciation of utilitarian art led me to take my first basket weaving course,” says Ruby. “Immediately, I knew that this was a passion I would enjoy forever. Basket weaving has been an important part of my life for years now, and there is still excitement and pride each time I begin to create a new basket.”
“I always like baskets. Once you make one, it’s like taking a tranquilizer. It just calms you down,” Ruby says. “I just love to make baskets.”
Ruby is available to present her baskets or to give demonstrations on basket weaving.