(September 30, 2016) – Appalachian heritage in North Carolina spans beyond hand-made pieces of artwork. In Jackson County, local artisans and crafters tell tales of the mountains through pottery, paintings, fly rods, beer and chocolate. Take a piece of the mountains home with these five local mountain-made crafts.
Jackson County embraces mountain traditions, and one of the longstanding crafts is the art of pottery. From the Japanese-influenced drink mixers and kitchenware designed by Justin Allman of Firemoss Pottery, to the fairies, folklore and dreamlike work created at Rabbit Creek Pottery, to the face jugs and raku beads at Riverwood Pottery, each potter in Jackson County has a special story. Jackson County even has its own juried pottery festival, drawing potters and attendees from across the nation, created by Joe Frank McKee, owner of Tree House Pottery. His functional pottery includes horsehair pottery made with dark black and red colors.
2. Artisan Gifts
Jackson County’s location in the Western North Carolina Mountains makes it a prime spot to find handmade treasures of old-time Appalachian craft traditions. Whether looking for unique gifts, jewelry, woodworkings or leather, many regional artisans showcase their craft at co-ops or craft galleries such as Dogwood Crafters or It’s by Nature. In Cashiers, find specialty products, such as handmade fly rods from Brookings Anglers, genuine leather bags from Bee Bags and laurel wood furniture from Midnight Farms. On the Cherokee Indian Reservation, Qualla Arts and Crafts sells traditional products made by members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
With mountains, rivers and valleys in Western North Carolina, artists have plenty of inspiration to create beautiful works of art. Many artists are inspired by the landscape that surrounds them, like Susan Lingg of Susan Lingg Art Gallery, who uses watercolors, acrylics, mica and handmade paper and Velda Lovell, owner of Blue Valley Gallery. At The Village Green in Cashiers, Emmy and Academy Award-winning sculptor Wesley Wofford organized a sculpture gallery to showcase some of his work, in addition to his Sculptor Studio in the mountains. The art galleries in Jackson County highlight local, regional, and national artists in works of portraiture, wildlife, still-life, photography, sculptures and more.
4. Craft Beer
The craft beer industry is booming in North Carolina, and Jackson County is no exception. From tasty ales, full-bodied porters and hoppy IPAs to German Hefeweizens and small-batch special brews, three breweries in Sylva are within a walkable one mile stretch of each other. At Heinzelmännchen Brewery, German-born brewmaster Dieter Kuhn & his wife Sheryl Rudd create light, refreshing, award-winning German beer made with fresh hops, wholesome grains and no preservatives, like the Dunkel Weise dark version of a Hefeweizen. Innovation Brewing experiments with a variety of fun and fresh ingredients to stimulate both guests’ palates and senses, like the beet and basil pale ale and the Orange Berlinerweiss. Sneak E Squirrel has a special DzHop Infusiondz option that infuses one of the IP (A)(B)(C)(J) or (Z) beers with extra hops in a French press.
5. Hand-crafted Chocolate
Peanut butter meltaways. Toffee.Dark chocolate crème truffles. The sweetest handmade goods in Sylva and Dillsboro are the chocolates at two family-owned and operated shops. Dillsboro Chocolate Factory has been around since 1999, creating fudge, chocolate bark, even chocolate shooters. Both shops focus on high-quality ingredients and always have sweet surprises, like bacon bark or key lime white chocolate truffles. At Baxley’s, the husband-wife-daughter trio started by selling chocolates at a local Christmas bazaar before friends encouraged them to open a shop, where they make small-batch treats. At certain times of the year Baxley’s partners with local breweries for a beer and chocolate pairing.
Pottery Firemoss Pottery – www.firemosspottery.com
Rabbit Creek Pottery – www.facebook.com/Rabbit-Creek-Pottery-147830178578298
Riverwood Pottery – www.riverwoodpottery.com
Tree House Pottery – www.treehousepotterync.com
Bee Bags & Such – www.beebagsandsuch.com
Brookings Anglers – www.brookingsonline.com
Dogwood Crafters – www.dogwoodcrafters.com
It’s by Nature – www.itsbynature.com
Midnight Farms – www.midnightfarms.com
Qualla Arts and Crafts – www.quallaartsandcrafts.com
Mountain Mist Gallery – www.mountainmistgallery.com
Blue Valley Gallery – www.bluevalleygallery.com
Susan Lingg – www.watercolorsbysusan.com
Heinzelmaanchen Brewery –www.yourgnometownbrewery.com
Innovation Brewing – www.innovation-brewing.com
Sneak E. Squirrel –www.sneakesquirrel.com
Baxley’s Chocolates – www.baxleyschocolates.com
Dillsboro Chocolate Factory – www.dillsborochocolate.com
About Jackson County, NC: Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro, Sylva, Balsam, Cullowhee, Glenville and Sapphire are the distinct locales that make up Western North Carolina’s Jackson County. Each of these Blue Ridge Mountain towns provide natural beauty that invites visitors to experience the North Carolina Mountains. Jackson County is also home to the nation’s first and only fly fishing trail, The Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail. The majestic mountains harbor miles of hiking trails and waterfalls while charming downtowns are known for shopping, dining, culture, and hometown atmosphere. For more information visit, www.MountainLoversNC.com.
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