Asheville is fortunate to have a unique combination of people, businesses, activities, and interesting side roads that come together to give it a depth of spirit unlike any other city in the South.
Couple this cultivated luxury with the rugged, natural beauty of the mountains, and you have something that is both comforting and inspiring to come back to again and again; the Folk Art Center is one such gem found in the Asheville area.
The Folk Art Center, located just east of the heart of Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 382, is a center for one-of-a-kind, handmade crafts that are a part of the very fiber of the mountains. The Folk Art Center is actually the home of three separate Parkway partners who share the building, the Southern Highland Craft Guild, National Park Service, and Eastern National; Eastern National is a non-profit, educational branch of the National Park Service.
The Southern Highland Craft Guild’s Allanstand Craft Shop is located at the Folk Art Center, as is its administrative office. The Allanstand Craft Shop features the diverse craftworks of as many as 350 of the approximately 750 juried Guild members. The shop features many craft disciplines, including clay, fibers, basketweaving, jewelry, metalsmithing, wood, and paper (including printmaking, but not photography). The shop offers authentic Appalachian items such as handmade brooms, quilts, hand-woven clothing, baskets, and toys. Handmade glasswork in a rainbow of many colors, sizes, shapes, and designs are readily available for the discerning shopper.
Hand-carved woodcrafts, also available in both traditional and contemporary designs, adorn the shop in a myriad of displays. Massive, beautifully designed, handmade quilts cover large wall spaces; diminutive quilts of delicate design and scale are tucked away in smaller displays and cozy corners. Colossal, thick-walled pottery, as well as miniature pieces, embellishes a sizeable collection. All items in the displays are offered for sale.
The Southern Highland Craft Guild has three second-floor galleries, one of which is dedicated to featuring the whole body of work of two different Guild artisans every six weeks.
Eastern National, a non-profit, educational branch of the National Park Service, operates a Visitors Center within the Folk Art Center. Eastern National’s focus is strictly educational, and features books, guides, maps, tapes/CDs, postcards, and kits in its shop area. Guides and maps are primarily for hiking and bird watching. The music featured in the shop is of a wide range, including traditional Appalachian, Celtic, and banjo. Books in abundance can be found on topics such as gardening, quilting, weaving, and doll making. If someone is interested in trying his or her hand at something new, such as quilting, weaving, or doll making, Eastern National’s beginner kits offer a good starting point. The center has greatly expanded its inventory of children’s and craft books in the past several months.
There is much to know about the Southern Highland Craft Guild, the National Park Service, and Eastern National, and the Folk Art Center is certainly at the heart of it all. New displays and features are constantly being changed and added; special weekend activities are planned throughout the year.
For a complete list of special events at the Folk Art Center, visit Asheville.com’s calendar of events, or call the Southern Highland Craft Guild at 828-298-7928 (email, [email protected]; web site, www.southernhighlandguild.org).