Ruby Lowery grew up in Ellenboro in Rutherford County, where she became 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. Her teacher was Helen Snyder from Mount Pleasant, North Carolina. “I will always enjoy learning new ideas and techniques from others,” said Ruby, “however, most of my classroom time is spent teaching others.”
Ruby taught classes at Isothermal Community College, the Cooperative Extension Service at Montreat College, and Tyron Fine Arts Center. She taught teaching classes at Isothermal for over fifteen years. Ruby donated time in art classes at local high schools and at Mount Mitchell State Park, where she demonstrated basket weaving. “Baskets that I make are all natural reeds and are stained with natural dyes such as pecan shells and tobacco,” said 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 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 was 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 won a number of awards and blue ribbons from many competitions, some of which included: 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 First Lady Barbara Bush, and a picture of another basket graced 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,” said 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 said. “I just love to make baskets.”
Ruby Lowery passed away on February 12, 2016 at the age of 88.