Each year, thousands of art lovers from throughout the country converge on Ashville’s Folk Art Center, home of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, to find beautifully-handcrafted Appalachian art and learn about the history of the Southern Crafts Revival movement.
While the center features many exquisite pieces of contemporary art created from fiber, clay, wood, glass, metals, and other natural materials; much of the artwork found at the center are historic, including 200 works features the best of traditional woodcarving, textiles, furniture, basketry, pottery, dolls, and other crafts of Southern Appalachia, dating from 1855 to the late 20th century.
Demonstration, Exhibits, and Beautiful Gifts
– The Center also offers craft demonstrations including lute making, broom making, calligraphy, relief printmaking, wood turning, pottery, weaving, jewelry making and other exhibitions from local artists. Travelers who plan to visit the Folk Art Center will be wise to save some of their budget for gifts from the center. The center offers everything from hand-crafted leather bound journals ($105.00), had blown glass and stained glass windows (from $88.00 to $300.00+), iron housewares ($65.00+), sterling silver and gemstone jewelry (from $85.00), and more.
A Cottage Industry that Created a Movement – The Guild was founded in 1890 when Frances Goodrich, a Yale graduate, moved to the area to do missionary work. After seeing local women weaving traditional coverlets in wool and cotton, she launched Allanstand Cottage Industries to assist impoverished mountain families by organizing mountain women to produce crafts that could be marketed regionally and nationally.
While local mountain settler and Cherokee crafts were created for necessity, Goodrich was able to capitalize on turn-of-the-century reformers who perceived home-crafts as a dignified alternative to the fast-changing industrialized society.
Allanstand Cottage Industries eventually became the Allanstand Craft Shop, and by 1928, the Southern Highland Craft Guild was formed. Today, the Allanstand Craft Shop is a central fixture of the Folk Art Center, which also features an Eastern National bookstore, a Blue Ridge Parkway information desk, a library, and three folk art galleries.
The Guild is located at Milepost 382 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and represents over 900 craftspeople in 9 southeastern states.