Feature Articles
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November Issue 2003

Toe River Arts Council in Burnsville, NC, Sponsors Holiday Studio Tour 2003

The mountains of Mitchell and Yancey Counties of Western North Carolina are home to some of the top artists and craftspeople in America. Whether you want contemporary or traditional, two- or three-dimensional, to look at or to use, you'll find a wide selection to select from as, map in hand, you follow the crafts trail set out for Holiday Studio Tour 2003. This annual event, sponsored by the Toe River Arts Council, takes place, as usual, on the first full weekend in December, which this year falls on the 6th and 7th The map, along with arrowed Tour signs will aid travelers in their self-guided tour.

From 10 in the morning until 5 in the evening on both days, over 100 artisans open their studio doors and welcome the public to see their workplaces. Some years the weather is mild, yet invigorating, other years, the skies fill with clouds and the rain is enough to make us grateful we aren't shoveling the precipitation. Either way, the studios are warm with welcome. Some even offer food and drink. The glass studios glisten with the shiny surfaces of ornaments, sculptures, and containers of every sort, from goblets to mezuzahs.

The potters may offer their wares from orderly racks or from homemade rustic benches and tables, but they have much to choose from: trays, jugs, mugs, tiles, baking pans, fountains, bird houses, sculptured forms, ceremonial pieces, sets of dishes, even bathroom sinks. They come in stoneware, raku, wood-fired, earthenware, Majolica, or porcelain.

Look for functional and sculptural work from basketmakers who work in traditional gathered materials or in the modern Asian reeds. If wood makes your nerve ends tingle, then you can select from carvings, furniture, turned wood combined with blown glass, or art made with materials gathered from the woods. People who look for 2-D art can chose from photographs, watercolors, oil, acrylics, silkscreen, and paintings on handmade paper. Textiles are well represented with handspun yarns, hand-woven flat goods, art quilts, sculptured dolls, knitwear, and garments pieced, painted, and quilted. Look for ironwork, handmade books, jewelry, soap and scents, beeswax candles, Native American Arts, stationery, and tree ornaments. If the studios don't have what you're looking for, step into any of numerous galleries on the tour, where you'll find a wide range of handcrafted articles.

A great place to start the tour is at the TRAC Center, 269 Oak Avenue in Spruce Pine. Tour maps, additional directions, photographs and even a Tour Exhibition of participants' work are there to help visitors decide where to go or to find their way. An exhibition of participants' work is on display at the TRAC Center from November 19 through December 24. Regular hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 am to 5pm. The TRAC Center is open expanded hours during the tour and a special party and reception takes place on Friday evening, December 5, from 5 to 8 pm. The public and artists are invited to attend.

Closer to December a map can be viewed at (http://main.nc.us/TRAC) or picked up on the day of the tour at any of the participating studios or galleries.

For more information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Toe River Arts Council at 828/682-7215 or 765-0520 or email to (TRAC@yancey.main.nc.us).

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