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Silva Gallery

Eco-friendly clothing dyed with local leaves and flowers

After years of doing craft shows and festivals, in 2007, Pam and Dave Silva decided to open their own brick and mortar gallery. What better location than within walking distance of the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown. Pam Silva is a tapestry weaver, felter, knitter, and mixed media artist. Dave is a functional potter and clay artist. Together, they have created a line of natural eco/botanical dyed clothing using local leaves and flowers. Silk scarves, men’s silk ties, shirts, skirts, pants, every piece of clothing is transformed into a one-of-a-kind garment that carries a little piece of North Carolina in its weave. They use a variety of beautiful local flora: dogwood leaves, wild roses, blackberry leaves, oak, maple, rhododendron, and others. 

As well as their own art, Silva gallery carries the work of 20+ other local artists and craftspeople. Visitors to the gallery will likely see something they have never seen before. The Silvas strive for a balance of unusual art as well as traditional creations. They represent artists who put their “heart and soul” into their work. 

At the Silva Gallery, you will find hand-woven tapestries, felt wall hangings, hand-knit scarves, felt hats, hand-beaded jewelry, glass, leather, dolls, hand-carved soapstone, baskets, kudzu cards, watercolor, alcohol ink paintings, mosaics, crocheted necklaces, gourds, dichroic glass, hand knit baby items, socks, mittens, botanical dyed clothing, and creative art and crafts supplies. 


closed January and February 

Open March-April 

Thursday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Open May-September 

Wednesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Open October-December 

Wednesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Sunday noon- 4 p.m.

Relis Art Studio North

Painting the natural world from a scenic studio

Inspired to paint, a decade ago Linda Relis bought a home in Brasstown and immediately added a painting studio. Wanting to share her love of the area, she opened her studio to the public. In a home/studio with a more homey feel than a traditional gallery, visitors have an opportunity view her paintings in a less formal atmosphere. Set against a beautiful backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Brasstown Bald, Relis Art Studio North is frequented by visiting deer and turkey who give the artist countless ideas for new paintings.  

The private studio setting allows the artist to spend one-on-one time with prospective buyers explaining how the work is created. Linda Relis’s extensive interior design background helps the visitor select the right piece based on where the piece will be hung in the buyer’s home. The artist also accepts commissioned work. Many clients request pet portraits, as well as landscapes of favorite places, either here in the mountains or places they’ve traveled to. Many of her paintings reflect her beautiful surroundings. 

Relis Art Studio North is located two miles from the John C. Campbell Folk School. Open seven days a week by appointment, visitors to the area are welcome to call and drop in. Finished paintings, as well as new works in different stages of development, are on view. There is a variety of subject matter to choose from in a style that is best described as traditional realism. In addition to original paintings executed in a representational style, the artist also offers giclee reproductions. The four walls of Relis Art Studio North are covered with paintings, tote bags, and note cards. 

Pine Needles and Things

Keeping alive the little-known art of pine needle basketry

Behind the little blue door on Old Highway 64 in Brasstown is a cozy shop called Pine Needles and Things. Run by artist/owner, Carmen Haynes the shop holds a variety of collectibles and the wine jelly that she makes. Its name comes from the pine needle art and supplies that are a surprise to visitors. 

Almost 20 years ago, Carmen Haynes, while living in southwest Florida, saw an 84-year-old woman in a nursing home making a pine needle basket. Pine needle and saw grass baskets are traditional to the South’s coastal regions. Immediately captivated, the artist asked if the woman would teach her this craft. Right then and there, the elderly woman pulled out a piece of cardboard, poked a few holes in it, and showed her how to coil and make stitches. Carmen Hayes has been making pine needle art ever since. 

Pine needle baskets are tightly woven with patterns in brown and tan. The designs swirl around a center point and are sometimes embellished with a central design or added motif. She makes and sells plates, bowls, jewelry, purses, and more all out of pine needles. Pine needles also sells supplies for people interested in learning how to make their own pine needle baskets. 

 Open year round (depending upon the weather) 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Call (828) 557-3400 for details.

Highlander Gallery

Historic creamery finds new life as fine craft gallery

When the John C. Campbell Folk School was founded in 1925, the school aimed to build a social and economic infrastructure that would support both the school and the communities it served. In those first few years, the school founded a number of cooperatives, including the Mountain Valley Creamery in 1929. School staff, students and local farmers built a creamery, using rocks from the Brasstown Creek behind the building. The Creamery thrived for several decades, allowing local farmers to process and sell milk.  

Today, the historic Mountain Valley Creamery has been given new life as the Highlander Gallery, on Old Highway 64, a mile east of the folk school.  Representing some of the finest artists in these mountains, the gallery is located on the upper level of the 3,500 square foot building on three acres of property along Brasstown Creek. The lower level, surrounded by windows and light, houses a classroom, studio, and frame shop. Workshops and classes are taught in a large classroom flanked by a full kitchen and full bathroom. There are plans to develop an Artist Commons to serve as a residence for visiting artists who teach classes. During mild weather seasons, there are often artists on site demonstrating their craft. 

Owners and managers of the Highlander Gallery are the husband and wife team of Sherry and Wayne Dukes. The Dukes are best known for their on-line travel and relocation magazine, TheBlueRidgeHighlander.com.  Both Dukes have been creative since very young. She is a painter, sculptor, and seamstress, while he is a woodcarver. They both started out in the commercial art before moving to western North Carolina in 1995. Looking for a means to live in the mountains, they developed the on-line travel and lifestyle magazine in 1996.  

The Dukes are also property managers for the historic home of Marguerite and Georg Bidstrup, who both lived and worked at the folk school in its earliest days. The beautiful grounds of their stone home are used for additional space for plein air painting.   

Check out their website for hours and directions. 

Folk School Fall Festival

Celebrate the arts, music and dance of Appalachia each autumn

As autumn’s vibrant reds and golds bring texture to the mountain landscape, many regional communities join together to honor the rich cultural heritage of the Appalachians. Since 1974, the season has drawn residents and visitors to the school’s pastoral Brasstown, North Carolina campus for the John C. Campbell Folk School Fall Festival, held the first weekend every October. 

Along the Folk School’s wooded paths, festival goers will visit with several hundred regional crafts people presenting works for sale. The school’s well-equipped studios host traditional and contemporary craft demonstrations as part of the two-day event. 

Children will enjoy a variety of activities such as pony rides and an alpaca petting zoo. The Humane Society’s pet adoption exhibit introduces kids to enthusiastic dogs ready to find their forever family. The Cherokee County Arts Council’s Kids’ Art tents offer free hands-on arts activities. Hungry festivalgoers can satisfy their appetites with a tasty lunch, dessert, or snack from vendors whose concession proceeds benefit non-profit and community organizations.  

Always open during the fair, the folk school’s renowned Craft Shop offers fine crafts from over 500 juried regional artists, including the folk school’s own Brasstown Carvers. The initial impetus for the Brasstown Carvers came in 1931 when the folk school began holding twice-a-week carving sessions on campus.

Lively music and dance performances are an integral part of the Fall Festival’s flavor. The Festival Barn and Shady Grove stages host regional musicians who share bluegrass, gospel, Celtic, and folk songs. High-energy dancers will whirl across the stage during clogging, Morris, Rapper Sword, and Garland dance performances. 

The Fall Festival offers generous free parking. Attendees can board a free Cherokee County Transit on-campus shuttle bus that travels between parking areas and Craft Shop and Festival Barn gates. Handicapped parking is provided in the gravel lot by Keith House and by the Fiber Arts Building. Admission covers festival, activities, and parking.

Altered Threads

“Oh Sister Wear Art Now”

Located along Old Highway 64 in Brasstown Village, a cozy 1940s-era house is home to Altered Threads. If the weather is nice, visitors will come up upon Suzanne Poirier felting under a tent top in the yard. There, the artist makes textured, hand-felted apparel designs, embellished with silks, velvets, and beadwork. Her studio name refers to the fact that she has “altered” traditional techniques to achieve a distinctive style all her own. 

 Poirier has been a “maker of things” since she was 8 years old. Having been given a hand-made blue yarn doll, she embarked on a felting journey of 18 years. Broadening out, she spent time as an owner of a drapery business, a hand quilting instructor, and myriad other endeavors. For several years, she had a studio in New Zealand on an Alpaca farm. 

Altered Threads is a fiber art studio and showroom where visitors can see and purchase a line of clothing that Poirier so cleverly calls, “Oh Sister Wear Art Now.” The line of clothing includes capes, tabards, vests, hats, and accessories. Also available are a selection of Shawbouti shawls, each one-of-a-kind and hand-knit. All items are for sale and the artist can make and ship custom orders as well. 

Besides her collection of wearable art, the shop offers a gallery of fiber painted canvases along with hand-crafted silk fusion paper-made items. The artist wants Altered Threads to become a gathering place where local artists can meet weekly. She had developed a series of workshops to teach various fiber arts and also offers courses through the nearby John C. Campbell Folk School. 

 Open by appointment

Toe River Arts Gift Shop & Gallery

Spruce Pine, a small town with a big town reputation

Once a mining and railroad town, today’s Spruce Pine is known for the arts, its galleries, small shops, and eateries. Located on the upper Oak Avenue is the Spruce Pine Gallery operated by the Toe River Arts Council. The large well-lit gallery offers changing exhibitions and a well-stocked gift shop. 

Built on a sloping hillside, the main road through Spruce Pine splits to create an upper and lower “Main Street.” Oak Avenue runs along the upper edge of town with Locust Street along the lower section. Adjacent to Locust Street is the North Toe River and the railroad. Businesses here had easy access to rail transport. Their doors front a wide roadway that once accommodated shipping and receiving, today, the walkway allows for a leisurely promenade.   

The Spruce Pine Mining District is a swath of the valley of the North Toe River in northwestern North Carolina that is home to one of the richest deposits of gems and minerals in the world. The area is mined for mica, kaolin, quartz, and feldspar. Open seven days a week, the Museum of North Carolina Minerals is nearby, located at Milepost 331 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  

McDowell County Quilt Trail

A self-guided drive through rural countryside in search of quilt blocks

The McDowell County Quilt Trail began in June 2009 as part of a grassroots interest to extend the Quilt Trail of Western North Carolina to McDowell County. The purpose of the program is to promote tourism, preserve history, and help improve the economy. The quilt blocks located on this trail are connected by name or design to the history of the land, building, or family that is hosting the block. 

Besides the design itself, there is lot of effort that goes into creating the quilt blocks along the trail. Volunteers construct, paint, install, create crafts, and write stories. Blocks are constructed of exterior sign board on a 2” x 4” frame and painted with high quality exterior paint with a life expectance of 8 to 10 years. There can be as many as 90 hours in the construction and painting of just one block. There are now a total of 146 blocks installed throughout the county. Visitors can purchase a map at local visitor centers and take a self-guided tour. 

Rutherford Visual Arts Center

Find art where mountains meet the foothills

An hour east of Asheville, Rutherford is a quiet little town on the edge of the Appalachia’s wide expanse, where the mountains meet the foothills.  

The Visual Arts Center serves as the storefront for the Rutherford County Visual Arts Guild, a non-profit made up of artists, crafters and volunteers with a passion for growing the art community. The Guild’s main mission is to increase the visibility of art in the community and provide opportunities for artists. The Visual Arts Center serves as both a retail outlet for artists to display their art for sale, as well as a resource for art in the local community. They offer numerous classes and workshops throughout the year, including paint and pour, stained glass and open studio time for personal projects and professional guidance.  

For more information, visit the website.


Alleghany Arts and Crafts

Appreciate art in land of “beautiful stream”

The fifth smallest county in North Carolina, Alleghany County was created in 1859. According to legend, its name comes from the Allegewi Indian word “oolikhanna,” meaning“beautiful stream.” The county seat of Sparta sits a few miles from the Virginia border. Numerous dining, shopping and recreational activities can be found, from visiting Stone Mountain State Park to visiting the Alleghany Arts and Crafts Art Gallery.  

In an effort to promote artisans and develop sustainable enterprises while preserving Appalachia’s cultural heritage,  a group of handcrafters launched the Alleghany Arts & Crafts Cooperative in 2003.  

Conveniently located on Main Street in historic downtown Sparta, the cooperative houses approximately 30 members and keeps an exciting display of a large variety of crafts year round. The Art Gallery provides a central place for community members and tourists alike to stop in and appreciate local art and artists.


Woody’s Chair Shop

Chair-making magic passed down through generations

The Woody family started making handcrafted “mule-ear” chairs in Mitchell County in the 1800s.  The chairs got that name because of the way the back posts of the chairs stick up–like ears on a mule. Back in the day when most everything was handcrafted, most everything was bartered as well. Arthur Woody took his chairs on an ox-drawn cart to Marion and Forest City to exchange for coffee and sugar. During the craft revival, a period when mountain crafts came to the attention of northern markets, Arthur Woody shipped chairs by Railway Express to cities like Boston. 

Grandson Arvel Woody and his brother Walter entered the chair making business following World War II. Arval summed up the fine tradition of chair making in an oft-quoted sentence,“We get the tree in the forest, and when we finish it up, it’s in the living room.” With his workers, Wood harvests trees from the forest, cuts them on his own sawmill, and shapes them into heirloom chairs. 

The Woody family uses local hardwoods, such as black walnut, wild cherry, maple, oak, and ash. These are fashioned into chairs using a greenwood method, in which no metal fasteners or glue are used. Chair posts air-dried, then driven together tightly, rounds interlocking while the wood is still green (uncured). As the posts dry, they shrink onto the rounds, clamping them tight. At Woody’s Chair Shop that traditional technique is still used today. 

Woody’s Chairs have found their way into national collections. Their work is part of the American Craft Collection of the Smithsonian. Their chairs and the chair shop has been featured multiple times in National Geographic. Appalachian author Wilma Dykeman included their shop in her book, The French Broad. Arval Woody was named a North Carolina Living Treasure in 1995. 

For more information, visit the website

Fire on the Mountain

Blacksmiths bring  hammers and anvils to Spruce Pine 

It’s no accident that Spruce Pine is home to the annual Fire on the Mountain blacksmithing festival each spring. It was here that the brothers Boone operated a forge in the 1930s and 1940s and drew the attention of craft enthusiasts all along the Atlantic seaboard. Bea Hensley apprenticed with Boone and inherited his anvil. He and his son, Mike, operated Hensley & Son Forge adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Another local smith, Nat Howell worked for Boone in the 1950s at the Burnsville smithy. His son, David carries on the family tradition at his operation at Mineral City Forge.  

Nearby is the Penland School of Crafts where, since 1929, people have been coming from around the country to explore craft and creativity. The tradition of summer “institutes” continues today under the roof of the school’s large iron shop. Contributing to the ambiance of the festival, resident smith Elizabeth Brim created a public artwork that takes the form of a full-size iron tree, installed in the town’s park. 

The Fire on the Mountain festival brings together both seasoned and novice smiths. It is a day of demonstrations, exhibitions, and hands-on experience. A few lucky visitors get to try their hand at striking, a particular favorite of the ten-year-old set.  A striker alternately swings the hammer for a master smith. This has the effect of doubling the smith’s physical output, allowing the master two blows for his single effort. In conjunction with the one-day event, the Toe River Arts Council organizes an invitational Blacksmith Art Exhibit, representing North Carolina talent.   

For information, visit the website