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David Goldhagen / Goldhagen Art Glass Studio

The fascinating art of marrying bold colors with hot molten glass

Situated along the pristine shores of beautiful Lake Chatuge in Hayesville,  Goldhagen Art Glass Studio and gallery offer a unique and exciting experience. The studio is the creative home of David Goldhagen, who creates large sculptural and functional forms from molten glass, either mouth blown or hand sculpted. Bold colors shine from under a crystal clear surface. Each piece begins as a gathering of molten clear glass on the end of a five-foot blowpipe. Colors are then layered and manipulated onto the surface, creating intricate patterns and movement within each piece. The design is then encased in a solid layer of crystal. 

At the studio, visitors can watch the process from a viewing balcony. Looking down on the furnace and glass-blowing area, you can see unique contemporary sculptures emerge using ancient techniques and the fascinating art of glassblowing. Inspired by flowers, dancers, human figures, and sunsets, Goldhagen takes a painterly approach to art glass, marrying bold colors with brilliant clear crystal in a clean modern style. The artist creates large to small-scale sculptural art glass, as well as functional pieces, including tables, candlesticks, perfume bottles, menorahs, and ornaments. The gallery also features a unique selection of jewelry, pottery, photography and woodwork. 

Goldhagen has been working in hot sculpted glass  since 1979. He is a member of the Southern Highlands Craft Guild, Carolina Designer Craftsmen, and the Glass Art Society. His work is in the permanent collections of numerous corporations, museums, and foundations, including Coca-Cola, Merrill Lynch, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, and Walt Disney. His on-site gallery features a collection of his latest works, in a wide array of size, shape, color and price. The gallery also offers shipping for those traveling through.

Please call prior to your visit for hours and the blowing schedule. 



Clay County Barn Quilt Trail

Follow the painted quilt designs on a scenic drive

Clay County’s Barn Quilt Trail begins at the town square in downtown Hayesville at the corner Historic Hayesville building. Visitors can start their tour with Historic Hayesville’s exhibit of quilts and more. Colorful quilt blocks placed throughout the town and county reflect the community’s charm. 

The first of Hayesville’s barn quilts—the Triple Sunflower—was installed in 2017 on the Historic Hayesville Inc. Centennial Exhibit building on Sanderson Street. There, you can begin your tour by picking up a map to guide you along the “trail.” The Barn Quilt map directs visitors to both in-town and to out-of-town sites for a 24/7 self-guided driving tour through the rural countryside. Maps are also available at the Town Hall and Clay County Chamber of Commerce, both located on Sanderson Street. The Barn Quilt Trail has grown to include over 35 designs displayed in the downtown area with another 35 throughout the county. Each quilt block speaks as a traditional work of art and a piece of local history.  

Customized quilt designs range from blocks that are two-foot-square to larger four-foot-square designs. A team of volunteers spends many hours hand drawing and then painting original and traditional designs. With some advanced planning, visitors can see volunteers working on quilt blocks in a studio at the rear of the building. 

The Clay County Barn Quilt Trail is part of the North American Quilt Trail Project, a driving tour that includes over 7,000 quilt blocks scattered throughout the rural countryside in the USA and Canada. 

A Small Town Main Street project, the Clay County Barn Quilt HHI Centennial Exhibit features displays and information about the picturesque mountain town. Maps are available for touring the Barn Quilt Trail and a limited selection of smaller pre-painted designs are available for purchase. More project details can be found at historichayesvilleinc.com

Centennial Exhibit Building is open 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. Fridays & Saturdays, March through December. 

Cherokee Cultural Center

Learn about Cherokee crafts, culture before walking the Quanassee Path

A good place to start a venture along Clay County’s Quanassee Path is to visit the Cherokee Cultural Center at the Moss Memorial Library in downtown Hayesville. There is plenty of parking and an easy stop to become acquainted with Cherokee culture and pick up a brochure to learn about other offerings in town. The library site includes a large case with historic and contemporary artifacts, as well as a wide array of books and historic maps describing Cherokee history and culture.  

The display includes a selection of stone tools, including projectile points and a grooved axe. Games were always popular with Cherokee people and the display includes stone and clay discs used in a game called “chunkey.” Chunkey was played by rolling disc-shaped stones across the ground and throwing spears at them in an attempt to place the spear as close to the stopped stone as possible. A set of ballsticks represents the still-popular game of stickball, a rough-and-tumble team sport. 

Historic and contemporary crafts make up much of the exhibit, from Pisgah Phase pottery to contemporary objects. Pisgah pottery was made around 1000 AD. The pottery displays the Cherokee traditional practice of paddle stamping. Potters used carved wood paddles to impart decoration on the outsides of their pots, a practice that compressed the clay and added to the pot’s density and strength. 

Perhaps, the Cherokee’s most popular craft are their baskets. Traditionally made from rivercane, the display includes a collection of rivercane baskets made by Snowbird artist, Emma Garret. Davy Arch is a well-known artist represented by a grouping of carved masks. An engaging storyteller, he worked for many years at the Oconaluftee Indian Village in Cherokee. 

The Cherokee Cultural Center is framed by large photographs of two notable Cherokee people. Sequoyah was the inventor of the Cherokee syllabary, an alphabet that makes up their spoken and written language. The late Diamond Brown was a performer and keeper of Cherokee culture who served on Tribal Council as the Snowbird representative. 

The Quanassee Path is a two-mile Cherokee history trail with five locations. Starting at the Cherokee Cultural Center in the library, the path leads to the outdoor Cherokee Homestead Exhibit, Cherokee Botanical Sanctuary, Old Jail Museum, and Quanassee village, the site of the Spikebuck Mound.

Hours are 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday.

Rob Withrow/Smoke in the Mountains Pottery

He loves throwing the “big pots” of North Carolina folk tradition

On any given day, “Rob the Potter” Withrow can be found throwing on the wheel, kiln sitting, or teaching others about the rich traditions of southern folk pottery. He is well known for the “big pots” he loves to throw and for his generous and fun-loving nature. His signature pieces are large, human-sized face jugs with smiles as big and infectious as his own.

“Pots are like people,” Rob likes to say. “Each one is unique and none of them are perfect.”  

Fleeing the snowy peaks of Colorado, the artist lived in Florida for 10 years working as a fisherman and captain of a shark boat. In 1993, he got an old wheel and kiln and his interest in clay was born.  He took classes at the John C. Campbell Folk School, where he would later become the Clay Studio Assistant and a frequent pottery instructor. He became an avid student and fan of North Carolina pottery and fell so in love with the history of the region’s folk potters, that he moved to the Blue Ridge Mountain community of Brasstown to open his own studio. 

On a visit to Smoke in the Mountains Pottery, you will see beautifully glazed crocks and cookware, whimsical face mugs and jugs, life-sized piggy banks and other “big pots.” You may even see stoneware in rare colors that the artist mixes up himself, like deep dark reds and Brasstown Gold. The studio hosts Face Mug Parties to introduce others to the joys of clay. Rob donates pots to local charities and teaches workshops at public schools.  

At Smoke in the Mountain Pottery in Brasstown, Rob Withrow is living his dream as a folk potter and sharing his passion for clay. Purchase finely crafted pottery right from the source, following signs from Settawig Road to the end of the road.

Visitors may be lucky enough to arrive when the community-built wood kiln is fired up. Holding over 700 vessels, the kiln needs to be stoked with wood every three to five minutes for about 30 hours straight. Firing the kiln is a big community event.

Despite the hard work, Rob says he would be happy to throw clay for the rest of his life and when his time comes, you can cremate him in his big kiln and save his ashes for the next wood firing.

Until then, he will be in his studio in Brasstown, telling folks about the wonders of clay. 

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/Carmen Haynes

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 a 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 online 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 photojournalist and woodcarver. They both started out in commercial art before moving to the mountains in 1995. Looking for a means to live in the mountains, they developed the online travel and lifestyle magazine in 1996.

The Dukes are also property managers for the historic home of Marguerite and Georg Bidstrup. Marguerite worked side-by-side with school founder, Olive Dame Campbell, while Georg ran the farm. 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.

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.