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Sweet Magnolia Gallery (Studio/Store of Melinda Lawton Jewelry)

As a designer for film and television for almost 30 years, Melinda Lawton has always seen the world in color, texture, form and movement. So, it was a natural shift for her to design jewelry – a true passion for her. She says she’s a Southern girl at heart, with ancestors from Charleston. After reconnecting with her first love, Alan, she relocated to North Carolina from Los Angeles. Now, she creates her jewelry in her flagship store/studio, Sweet Magnolia Gallery, in Hendersonville.

Her jewelry is described as “timeless” with strong roots in antique style. You’ll discover her unique color combinations and the finest of gems in all of her work. The Sweet Magnolia Gallery has 9 curios full of jewelry designed and created by Melinda available for purchase.

“Your jewelry is what I wear when I want to feel my bravest,” one collector wrote. Melinda sees her work as “Empowering women…one at a time.”

Wednesday – Saturday, 11 am – 5 pm

A Walk in the Woods

If you’re looking for an enchanting experience, A Walk in the Woods gallery in downtown Hendersonville is a delight to visit. The moment you enter the doors, you are transported to what the owner, Hope Rhodarmer, calls a “fantasyland” where local artists showcase their “magical creations.” Tree bark and moss line the walls alongside the wide range of eclectic works to give a sense of being in a forest.

You’ll find crotched and sewn items and other fiber art – both wearable and felted. A Walk in the Woods also features a variety of handmade jewelry, including leather, hand-beaded, and repurposed. Look for the clay wind bells with birds, bears and goats!

Hope opened the gallery in 2017 with a focus on making her guests feel welcome and offering unique pieces. “Each piece is one of a kind, and I like that you cannot find a lot of these things in any other shop in Hendersonville.”

Tuesday – Saturday, 10:30 am – 5 pm
Sunday, 12 pm – 5 pm

Meghan Bernard Pottery

Guests can find Meghan Bernard throwing pots, glazing or working on an inlay design in her backyard studio at any point in the day. Her home is tucked in a Hendersonville neighborhood lush with trees, so it’s no surprise that Meghan’s designs are inspired by the flora and fauna surrounding her.

A Southern Highland Craft Guild member, Meghan creates wheel-thrown porcelain which is then carved and inlaid with colorful underglaze and finished with food safe glazes. Her scenes on the pottery tend to be whimsical and stem from the plants and animals in her gardens and neighborhood.

Meghan says she loves making the objects that people use during their daily rituals, such as their favorite coffee cup that starts the day, the serving bowl that completes a family gathering, or the teapot that brings drama and humor to a collection. “Each piece is from my hand to yours, as a tactile reminder to appreciate the moment and those you share it with.”

Guests are welcome to shop from her studio shelves or let her know if you are looking for something specific. Her studio is open by appointment. She is best reached by email.

Shelton House

A distinguished farmhouse full of heritage pieces 

Two blocks south of Waynesville’s bustling main street, it is easy to slip into the atmosphere of a 19th-century Charlestonian farmhouse with its double veranda, central foyer, and a maze of rooms filled with historic antiques, Native American weavings, beadwork, wood carvings plus other beautiful North Carolina heritage crafts. 

The home, built in 1875, was originally owned by Stephen Jehu Shelton and his wife, Mahala Conley Shelton.  Stephen, a Confederate veteran, served as High Sheriff of Haywood County for several years following the Civil War.   

The house was later purchased by his second son, William Taylor Shelton in 1905.  Will served as an Agricultural Instructor for the Cherokee, and later, the Navajo of Ship Rock, New Mexico.  He was eventually named Superintendent of the San Juan Training School in Ship Rock and helped the Navajo to build the Northern Navajo Craft Fair still in existence today.  Will, and his wife, Hattie, moved back to Waynesville in 1916 and continued to live in the house for the remainder of their lives. 

The house was purchased by Mary Cornwell in 1978 for the creation of The Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts, whose collection grew out of a state fair exhibit,  “Village of Yesteryear” which still exhibits at the NC State Fair every year. Displays in the museum include hand-sewn quilts, woodworking, basketry, porcelain dolls pottery and much, much more. In addition to the heritage crafts displayed, the home is filled with historical pieces from times gone by including several original pieces from the Shelton family and the town of Waynesville.  You won’t want to miss the Native American Room filled with the artwork of the local Cherokee, Navajo, Sioux, Hopi and Acoma Native Americans.

Check out the website for hours and news.


Cherokee Heritage Festival

A fall celebration of Cherokee culture in Clay County

The Cherokee Heritage Festival is an event that residents and area visitors look forward to each year. The popular annual festival takes place on the third Saturday every September on the grounds of the Cherokee Homestead Exhibit in Hayesville. 

The festival includes a variety of Cherokee crafts and their makers who demonstrate traditional native crafts. Watch as members of the Eastern Band show off their skills in basket and finger weaving, pottery sculpting, bead working, woodcarving, flint knapping, blowgun crafting, and arrow making. Their work is on view and for sale with artists there to discuss their work. The afternoon is a celebration of dancing, storytelling, and music, as well as activities for children. Tribal members cook up authentic Cherokee cuisine, such as the ever-popular fry bread with all the fixings. 

The festival is held at the site of the outdoor Cherokee Homestead Exhibit, which features traditional Cherokee homes as they would have appeared in the 17th century. The recreated village site includes a summer house, winter house, food storage crib, and shelter. Adjacent to the exhibit is the Cherokee Botanical Sanctuary with waysides describing plants used traditionally as medicine, food, and supplies to make household items and weaponry. The festival has featured a plant walk-and-talk as well as a native plant scavenger hunt. 

Passing through the Sanctuary is the Quanassee Path, a two-mile Cherokee history trail. Follow the path to Spikebuck Mound and Quanassee village, an important stop along a historic trading route from Charleston, South Carolina to eastern Tennessee. The path winds back to Hayesville and the Cherokee Cultural Center, located in Moss Memorial Library.

Turning Point Clay Studio

Potter couple opens studio with weekly classes

Harry Hearne has been a full-time potter since 1990, working out of his own Turning Point Clay Studio.  In addition to teaching classes in his studio, he taught for five years at the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts and conducted workshops at various colleges, universities, the John C. Campbell Folk School and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. He throws a variety of classic forms and uses multiple glaze layers to create a dynamic body of work.   

In 2009, Julie Fischer Hearne became a full-time potter, joining her partner at Turning Point. Inspired by her love of gardens, her work focuses on indoor and outdoor stoneware sculpture. She makes garden sculptures, birdbaths, and fountains by throwing clay segments, then stacking and joining them together. Besides her glaze surfaces, Julie Hearne uses image transfer to add words of inspiration to the clay surface.  

Turning Point Clay Studio has welcomed guests to their studio since 1990. A woodworking studio before Harry and Julie purchased the property, they added an addition for throwing clay, built a Raku kiln shed, and constructed a reduction kiln named “Gracie.” Their studio is equipped with six wheels, with a seventh designated for trimming. In addition to working on pieces that they show and sell, the couple holds weekly pottery classes for all levels.   The potter-couple teaches annually at the John C. Campbell Folk School, just one mile from their studio.  Classes range from kiln building to surface decoration. During the weeklong class, students are invited to an evening open house at Turning Point.

Call ahead for hours.

Jo Kilmer / Spirit Tall

Offering workshops in making rustic furniture

Jo Kilmer got her start as a rustic artist in Missouri in 1995, when she first learned the art of bentwood furniture construction using locally gathered willow and progressed to working with willow bark in baskets, cabinets, and jewelry. She and her business, Spirit Tall, relocated to Murphy in 2006. Adapting her craft to include materials found in the Appalachian mountains of Western North Carolina, she began using native mountain laurel and other local wood in her current work.  

Spirit Tall is located on 12+ acre homestead on a quiet dead end road just two miles from Murphy and five miles from John C. Campbell Folk School. The artist has renovated an older home to serve as a studio and showcase, where visitors are immersed in the rustic world of her making. Follow the signs for a tour of a garden filled with rustic arbors and unique yard art. The artist’s house is filled with furniture that she made. Learn about the different types of wood that can be used to build rustic furniture, including willow, river birch, sourwood and more.  

Aspiring rustic builders are invited to join Spirit Tall for a fun and informative hands-on workshop. Workshops are typically a half-day and each participant builds their very own unique rustic creation to take home. In a 4-hour class, participants learn to bend and weave saplings into beautiful designs. For a more in-depth immersion into nature and the lifestyle of a rustic artist, Spirit Tall offers a 24-hour experience where visitors spend the night, wake in the morning to cut wood for their project, stop for lunch, and then build for the rest of the afternoon. The immersion workshop is a one-on-one or couples event, a unique experience offered yearlong. 

Kilmer has received awards and recognition for her art, including acceptance in the well-regarded Rustic Furniture Fair of the Adirondack Mountains. She travels extensively, sharing her skills, and has taught at the annual Woodlanders Gathering in Wisconsin. She is a featured artist in “Making Willow Furniture: Three Women Share Their Art” by Bim Willow. Besides her workshops and ready-made pieces, the artist also makes custom order furniture and garden arbors. Custom pieces include sideboards, chairs, tables and more. For the visitor wanting to stop by for a quick visit, her twig dragonflies and unique willow bark jewelry are available for purchase.  

Check out the website for hours or to make an appointment.

Lotsa Memories

Featuring crafts that provide opportunities to unemployed

Lotsa Memories: Antiques & More was started in 2013 with a two-fold purpose: to provide a space for antiques and vintage items and to produce items that would teach employment skills to the unemployed and under-employed. Believing that every business owner can and must give something back to the community, after expenses, all profits from Lotsa Memories are given to local charities in the area.  

Lotsa Memories signature item is a “Second Chance Door Mat.” These individually made, hand cut mats are produced from recycled tires. Tire doormats were popular in the 1950s but disappeared in the 1960s after radial tires came into use. Traditionally all black, today’s Second Chance mats are made with colored spacers. They are sized for practicality, fitting single or double French doors. 

Lotsa Memories is located in historic downtown Murphy, across from the old Henn Theater on Tennessee Street. The shop currently has 37 vendors who offer antiques, vintage items, and handmade crafts, including baskets, pottery, and furniture. 

Shop is open year-round 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m.  Tuesday-Saturday. 

Gallery 26

Featuring the talents of the Baerreis family and friends

Gallery 26 is the latest iteration of the Baerreis family’s collaborative art space. Each member of the family (as well as various guest artists) is represented in a curated collection of their work. Collectively, the family and friends space showcases decades of experience across many different types of media. 

Martha and Phil Baerreis began making their living with their wood art in 1972, raising three children who have each spent their adult lives as professional artists as well. Nathan is a photographer, Elisabeth creates unique jewelry using various glass and metalworking techniques, and George is a musician. In 2000, the family opened a studio in Brasstown after suffering a fire that took a lifetime of inventory.  In 2013, the studio, with expanded gallery space, moved to its current location on River Avenue in Murphy. 

Gallery 26 features a wide range of items including functional sculpted wood art boxes, glass and metal jewelry, sun catchers, mobiles, kitchenware, wood bowls, pottery of all sorts, paintings, photography, knit and crocheted items, traditional Appalachian basketry, woven art baskets, collaborative pieces, and much more. All are available for sale through the downtown Murphy shop and more can be see in the online store. 

Gallery 26 promises a personalized experience. Visitors are greeted by one of the artists whose work is for sale. There is no gap between visitor and creator. Nearby is a nice balance of shops, great restaurants, and activities. A beautiful walking trail winds along the Hiwassee River.

Joe Waldroup Wood Turning & Sculpting

Carving a connection between the mountains and the sea

Curls of wood fly off the lathe as a bowl begins to form at the hands of Clay County artisan Joe Waldroup. A native of Hayesville for as long as he can remember, he did woodworking as a hobby. In 2010, he turned to woodwork full time, producing most of his work on a lathe, spinning various woods to form bowls or vases. For these spun pieces, he uses various local hardwoods, with a preference for maple and cherry. 

Waldroup also makes sculpture, usually from driftwood or other gnarly pieces of wood. His sculptures are interpretations of nature, preferring animal and fish forms. He says he is always looking for trees, especially ones that have burls on them. Using wood mostly from North Carolina, the sculptor expresses a connection with nature. “There’s something about a lot of the wood that I get, out of the mountains especially. Things like the rhododendron root burls, when I work with those, it always seems that there’s a connection with the ocean and the mountains.”

With his home in the mountains, he says that the wood burl looks like shells. “It’s a way of connecting both ends of the state from the east to the west.”

The wood’s natural twists and curves inspire his unique pieces. No two pieces are the same because no two pieces of wood are the same. In 2016, North Carolina’s Our State magazine held a contest in which artists submitted their work and the public voted for the best.  Waldroup won this statewide contest with “Mountain Shells,” a piece carved from a rhododendron root burl from a place close to his mountain home.

Perhaps the public recognized their shared artistic philosophy. “Every individual should have access to art and culture in their daily lives. It’s our goal to provide a medium between art enthusiasts and the artists themselves.” 

Shop is open year-round, but call ahead for hours.

Lee Holland & David Dick / Sweetwater Gallery & Studio

Showcasing concrete pottery, fine paintings and other delightful crafts

Artists Lee Holland and David Dick bought this former county community building to house the studio where David makes unique, concrete textile hand-draped pots that are more art form than garden receptacle.

Today the workshop has expanded to become the Sweetwater Gallery & Studio where visitors can see and buy high-quality arts and crafts. Paintings in oil, watercolor, and acrylic paintings are available as are prints, wood table trays, wine, and corner shelves. Knitted items include hats, scarves, boot warmers, and Alpaca socks. Beside the gourd art, woven basketry, books, cards, and jewelry, visitors will find David’s concrete pottery designs.  

Lee Holland is an entertainer and singer/songwriter. Her CD recordings are also available at the gallery. Since moving to the mountains, she has made many friends who are local artists in varied media and the gallery has become the perfect space to display the delightful crafts of her group of friends.   

Sweetwater Gallery & Studio is also on the Clay County Barn Quilt Trails for “Patricia’s Pillow,” a painted quilt block square designed as a memorial for David’s mother, Patricia Dick, also an artist, whose work is available in prints and gift cards. Visitors are able to see other painted quilt blocks mounted on exterior walls of buildings in downtown Hayesville and throughout Clay County.

The gallery is open year-round. For hours and information on classes, visit their website.

Brasstown Carvers

Hewing a legacy in native wood over the generations

The Brasstown Carvers can trace their start to 1929 when a local Handicraft Association was organized at the John C. Campbell Folk School. With dues set at 50 cents per year, association members produced hearth brooms, quilts, benches, and baskets for sale. All work was made in the homes of members who lived around Brasstown. An immediate success, the program was one of several cooperatives formed in partnership with the John C. Campbell Folk School during the 1920s and 1930s. Another was the Mountain Valley Creamery, located in a building made of local stone that today houses the Highlander Gallery. 

In 1931, the Folk School began hosting a twice-a-week carving night. The Brasstown Carvers—although they did not yet go by that name—produced consistently throughout the 1930s and 1940s. They came together on Saturday mornings to share their work, to practice, and learn new things. The Hall family walked eight miles from Warne to attend these meetings.

At these weekly get-togethers, carvers could pick up rough-sawn blocks of wood from apple, cherry, black walnut, holly, maple, sycamore, and birch. These were taken home and carved with a pocketknife and returned to the school for a final polishing and marketing. The school developed a twin system of craft instruction. Its “industries” department was aimed at students enrolled in its residential program, while its craft cooperative reached into the community.  While the two programs remained somewhat separate, their goals and methods intertwined. A 1931 school report acknowledged the value of the community handicraft cooperative as a “growing link between school and community.” Several other schools adopted this model, including Penland School of Craft near Spruce Pine, N.C.   

In 1933 an exhibition of Mountain Handicrafts brought the work of the Brasstown carvers to the nation’s capital. The catalog listed carved geese, both “mad” and “sober” mules, horse, oxen, hog, rabbit, dog, goat, and a full logging outfit. Brasstown carvings caught the attention of the President and First Lady Roosevelt.  A Washington DC newspaper reported that Eleanor Roosevelt visited the exhibition six times and bought “a whole flock of geese.” 

While carving was initially considered to be an occupation for men and boys, women entered the cooperative in increasing numbers, especially during World War II as men left for military service.  By 1946, women were the majority of carvers for the first time with 33 women and 18 men carving.  Since that time, and into the present, both men and women participate.  In the 1950s, the carving group formally became known as the Brasstown Carvers and continued to produce small, hand-held animals and nativity figures for more than another half-century.