WILKES COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Weavers, potters, and other craftsmen are being honored for staying true to their Appalachian roots.
The new Blue Ridge Craft Trails stretches from Cherokee County to Surry County. The Craft Trails celebrate the 4,000 people that paint and make handmade crafts the way it was done centuries ago. In Wilkes County, Wilkes Art Gallery Director Ashley Barton is thrilled the artists are getting their much-deserved recognition.
“We have such a rich heritage in the arts and such skilled artisans that don’t get a lot of light shined on them,” said Barton.
Mary Freas, of Sunset Fiberworks, is one of the Wilkes County artists along the Craft Trails. She is carrying on the tradition of weaving which first began with her husband’s great aunt.
“There were people sitting where I sit doing what I am doing a hundred years ago, two hundred years ago. That’s pretty cool to think about,” Freas said.
Something else that’s pretty cool is how Betsy Brey, of Brey Quality Crafts, uses natural material like tree bark, cedar, or hickory and shapes it into baskets and other pieces of art.
“It looks great in a contemporary house or a ritzy house because it’s natural materials and to bring that into any house enhances it. There’s so much plastic in the world these days,” Brey said.
Susan Roath also uses nature, in this case the sun shining through her handmade stained glass.
“I love to see the sun come through the glass at home, or maybe it’s the image that reflects onto the wall and the colors that you see,” Roath said.
The artisans along the Blue Ridge Craft Trails are looking forward to promoting their art, each other, and talking to visitors. Leslie Hartley is the communications manager for the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area.
“We feel really confident that these artists are welcoming folks and exceptionally talented and very passionate about their craft,” Hartley said.
Thomas Salley is the Wilkesboro Tourism Development Authority director. He feels Joining the Craft Trails can be an economic booster for Wilkes County.
“Come see the artist on the heritage trail and then ask around to see artists and musicians. There are incredibly talented people everywhere you look,” Salley said.
To learn more about the Blue Ridge Craft Trail, check out their website.
On the website, you can follow a recommended itinerary or create your own.