Elkin Fosters Craft Instruction in Historic Mill Setting
For more than a century, Chatham Manufactuing Company in Elkin produced textiles and employed much of the town. Their products clothed and warmed soldiers in both world wars, covered seats in automobiles, and adorned furniture. Chatham’s outreach in the community included building the Gilvin Roth YMCA built in 1942. Today that building, a 45,000 square foot facility overlooking the Yadkin River, is home to the Foothills Arts Center. Continuing the crafting heritage of Elkin and Chatham, the Foothills Arts Center has transformed the building into a space that functions as a school of traditional craft and center for the visual and performing arts.
The Foothills Arts Center serves Wilkes, Surry, and Yadkin counties to support local artists, artisans, writers, musicians, and performers. The Yadkin Valley Fiber Center works as part of the Foothills Arts Center to offer craft instruction in the textile arts. Programs include regular beginner to advanced weaving, felting, spinning, and dyeing workshops. The Foothills Arts Center now also offers instruction in drawing, painting, and photography. Their clay program will launch in 2021, followed by the development of glass, metal, woodworking, and printmaking departments.
The Foothills Arts Center also offers violin building courses from master luthier Joe Thrift. In 1976, Joe studied at the Newark School of Violin Making in England. After graduation, Joe returned to North Carolina and founded Joseph A. Thrift Violins. He specializes in making exceptional violins and violas, using the highest-quality European wood, and making his signature varnish and color. In 2016, Joe moved his workshop to Elkin, North Carolina, where he continues to build fine violins and teach the art of making them. Classes are offered weekly at 4, 8, or 20-hour intervals for 18-week semesters.
The FAC and its affiliates produce numerous music festivals, including Reevestock, Surry Old Time Fiddlers Convention, and the Elkin Roots Music Fest. The Foothills Theatre presents a summer musical, winter play, and other theatre performances throughout the year. The FAC also holds two annual craft markets in conjunction with NC Trail Days in June and Light Up Elkin in December.
For hours, events, and development updates, visit foothillsarts.org