The Search for Handmade Crafts in the Tennessee River Valley - KXXV Central Texas News Now

The Search for Handmade Crafts in the Tennessee River Valley

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American Craft Week is set for October 5-14, 2018, and is the perfect time to find a one-of-a-kind item to treasure for years to come. The Tennessee River Valley Mapguide provides visitors with information from a local's perspective on some of America's hot spots for craft lovers.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Sept. 28, 2018 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- Handmade crafts are a valuable economic engine for families and communities across the United States. With the purchase of a handmade good made in the USA, all the money stays here, and is spent and invested here.

Now in its ninth year, American Craft Week is the country's largest celebration of handmade American craft. From October 5th to the 14th, galleries, festivals, museums, libraries and artist studios across the country will be celebrating and showcasing original works of arts and handmade creations.

"In today's world where everything seems to be mass-produced, finding an art piece or craft handmade in the U.S.A. has become some what of a treasured piece and something worth holding on to and passing down to future generations," said Julie Graham, spokesperson for the Tennessee River Valley Stewardship Council. "The Tennessee River Valley is rich in artisans and craftsmen who are waiting to show off their creations and to share knowledge of their craft with the public."

There are several areas in the Tennessee River Valley region that are hot spots for craft lovers in search of handmade treasures. Several locations in the region, including Blue Ridge, Ga. and Gatlinburg, Tenn., were also voted by craft enthusiasts across the United States as an American Craft Week top 10 town for craft lovers. For a complete list of participants and events, visit

The Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community is an area containing more than 100 Appalachian artist and craftsmen along an eight-mile loop on the eastern edge of Gatlinburg, Tenn. Visitors are often greeted by the artists who will take the time to chat and discuss the history of their craft.

The largest independent organization of artisans in the United States, the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community features carvers, weavers, watercolor artists, casters, soap makers, potters, silversmiths and dozens of other artisans skillfully demonstrate their abilities before thousands of visitors. The eight-mile loop road is designated a Tennessee Heritage Arts and Crafts Trail. The Arts and Crafts Community can be reached using the Yellow Trolley from downtown Gatlinburg.

Twice a year, the community offers a program, Hands on Gatlinburg, providing guests with the chance to learn how to make their favorite crafts from the professionals themselves. Over 40 different do-it-yourself style classwork will be offered, from knitting to pastels, painting, jewelry-making, watercolor, scarf-making, weaving, pottery, crochet, woodworking, soap-making and much more. Festivalgoers can keep the items they make. Upcoming dates are October 12-14, 2018 and April 12-14, 2019.

For the complete package in everything craft-related in the Appalachian region, plan a getaway to the John C. Campbell Folk School. Located in scenic Brasstown, North Carolina, the Folk School offers adults more than 800 weeklong and weekend classes year-round in traditional and contemporary craft, art, music, dance, cooking, gardening, nature studies, photography and writing.

Visitors are welcome to explore the beautiful campus during daylight hours in a free and self-directed tour. Numerous walking trails meander the 300-acre campus, including the Rivercane Walk, a creekside trail with art honoring the Cherokee heritage of the Appalachian area.

The Folk School's Craft Shop reflects the rich heritage of the Appalachian region and the talented artisans who live and work locally and regionally. Representing over 300 craftspeople, it offers everything from decorative jewelry and handcrafted pottery to functional fireplace poker sets and fiber creations like scarves and table linens.

The History Center traces the story of the Folk School from its beginning and provides an overview of Appalachian culture. It houses a collection of handcrafted objects, old documents and letters, and photographs.

Additional entertainment includes the Folk School's free Friday night concert series featuring some of the finest regional and national acts performing old-time, bluegrass, folk, gospel and Celtic music. Community dances are usually held every other Saturday evening and are relished by local residents and visitors who enjoy contra and square dancing to live music.

The Clinch River Artisan Trail combines a search for handmade treasures with a scenic drive through southwest Virginia. Flowing through the rolling hills and green pastures of Southwest Virginia, the Clinch River is one of the world's most biologically diverse waterways .The Nature Conservancy declared the Clinch River Basin to be one of only twenty "Last Great Places" in the world (1990.)

One of 15 regional artisan trails in Southwest Virginia, the Clinch River Artisan Trail is a driving tour taking visitors through history, culture and the traditions of rural Appalachia. This landscape of river and surrounding mountains feed the imagination of artists and artisans, storytellers and musicians. It's easy to see why so many artists find inspiration here. Visitors to this area can learn about skills handed down through generations, discover the joys of picking fruit from an orchard and meet basket makers, weavers, quilters, potters, wood workers, jewelers, farmers and others who look forward to telling their story behind their craft and their heritage.

Listed as one of the top five Art Towns in Georgia by the Georgia Council for the Arts and the Georgia Municipal Association, the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association and Art Center is the center of the arts for Blue Ridge, Ga. The Art Center is home to the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, a non-profit, 501(c) 3 arts council that provides opportunities for artists of all ages. The Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association and Art Center hosts more than 35 exhibits and events each year that provide a variety of multi-cultural artwork and mediums.

The second weekend in October welcomes the annual Arts in the Park. Held in Downtown City Park, the two day event draws in excess of 20,000 attendees annually and a wide array of artists and food vendors. With over 170+ artists, exhibitors and vendors booths, visitors enjoy a variety of fine arts and fine crafts, demonstrations, food, and much more.

Additional attractions to compliment a visit to Blue Ridge include the Blue Ridge Community Theater, the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, the Swan Drive-In Theater, fine restaurants, craft breweries and shopping in local small businesses and art galleries.

Beginning in the southwest corner of Virginia, the Tennessee River Valley region cuts through the mountainous areas of Tennessee, North Carolina, and Northern Georgia, into the rolling hills and bottomlands of northern Alabama and Mississippi and then north through the marshes and wetlands of middle-west Tennessee and ending in western Kentucky. The Tennessee River Valley offers a compelling story, captivating visitors with its little unknown facts, pristine, untouched areas and rich, authentic experiences. Save trip ideas and plan a trip easily with the Tennessee River Valley Geotourism MapGuide, an online guide of authentic places and adventures that have been recommended by locals.


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