• Roberta Diemer, left, of West Asheville, looks at items at with her sister, Karen, Saturday, Dec. 2, at Barking Spider Pottery. The sisters were in Mitchell County to participate in the Toe River Arts Holiday Studio Tour.

Journey of the arts

Artists, customers deem Studio Tour successful

More than 100 artists were represented in 58 studios this past weekend during the Toe River Arts Holiday Studio Tour.

Represented mediums included clay, glass, textiles, metal, wood, concrete, paper jewelry and more.

“I just love this functional art,” said Roberta Diemer, of West Asheville, who was taking the tour with her sister, Karen, of Weaverville, and was perusing items for sale at Barking Spider Pottery in Penland. “I look at these pieces of pottery and wonder if I really need it and then decide I absolutely do need it and I’ll find some use for it at some point.”

Robbie Bell, owner of Speckled Dog Pottery in Bakersville, said he was pleased with how many people participated in the holiday tour this year.

“It’s been great,” he said around 3:30 p.m. Saturday. “We have had a very steady flow of people in here and a lot of them I know but a lot were on the tour for the first time.”

Potter John Britt said Sunday it seemed as if he had “no downtime” during the tour and Amy Waller, who had her jewelry for sale in Britt’s studio, said traffic slowed down Sunday but Saturday’s crowd was “really good.”

“So many people from Charlotte, Johnson City and Asheville were on the tour,” she said. “It’s not uncommon to get a lot of people from Charlotte and the other big cities close to Mitchell County.”

Elise Delfield, of Bryson City, is the owner of Pincu Pottery and was a first-time tour participant hosted by Terry Gess Pottery on Wing Road.

“I am completely impressed by Toe River Arts for having this and it being so successful,” she said. “There is such a high concentration of incredible artists in Mitchell County it’s no wonder so many people come to this from Charlotte, Asheville and even Raleigh.”

Textile artist Carmen Grier said her studio was full at one point Saturday.

“We couldn’t fit everyone in here for a bit,” she said. “I also noticed a lot of shoppers this year were interested in the story of the art, the process of creating it, which is a bonus because I love to talk about what I do.”

With Grier was Sondra Dorn, a mixed-media artist, first-time tour participant and former resident of Mitchell County.

“I love this and it has been fantastic,” she said. “I’ll be back as a participant every time I am invited.”

William Baker, of Wood Song Pottery in Bakersville, said this year’s holiday tour was one of the better ones he can recall.

“Sales-wise Saturday was really good but in terms of the number of visitors overall it’s been average or a little above average,” he said. “It seems Sunday there are more local people on the tour, but there were some folks from Tennessee in here who hadn’t been on the tour in years and when things like that happen it’s a good sign the tour is going to go well.”

Amanda Taylor, of Burnsville, and Jillian Wolfe, of Asheville, were taking the tour for the first time and made their way Sunday to Mica Gallery in Bakersville.

“We have had a really, really great time,” said Taylor, who is close to opening her own glass studio in Yancey County. It is our first time on the tour, but there’s no way it will be our last.”

The MItchell News

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