STUDIO TOUR: Event highlights area artists
BAKERSVILLE – More than 100 local artists opened the doors of their studios and welcomed guests this past weekend during the annual three-day Toe River Arts Council Holiday Studio Tour.
Artists from Spruce Pine, Bakersville, Micaville, Penland, Celo and Burnsville opened their studios from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily Friday to Sunday and displayed a variety of their pieces. Many artists also ran special promotions and sold plenty of their art to visitors.
Patrons used a special studio tour guide to find a list of participating artists along with a detailed map and directions to each studio.
Rainy weather ensured visitors had to be careful to stay dry as they wandered from studio to studio Friday and Saturday, but Sunday presented patrons with warm, sunny weather for the end of the tour.
Artists from various mediums sold their wares during the tour. A multitude of clay artists were joined by those who work with fiber, glass, jewelry, metal, dimensional projects and wood.
Some artists, such as Sage Morgan, a clay artist in Bakersville, were new stops on the tour.
Morgan said the TRAC tour highlights not only the local artists but also the community as a whole.
“It’s a beautiful time to fall in love with a new artist and explore the mountains of North Carolina,” Morgan said. “The TRAC has such an amazing community that shines. We really are a gem.”
For artists like potter Shane Mickey, of Bakersville, the bi-annual TRAC tour is an essential time for gaining popularity.
“The studio tour is one of the more important dates for artists in the Toe River Valley as far as income and exposure,” Mickey said. “It is also a time when the whole community comes together to help introduce the southeast to our region. The artists of the Toe are something to be proud of.”
Many area artists have been participating in the studio tour for years. Tim Tyndall and Karen Wylie of Blue Ridge Soap Shed in Spruce Pine opened their studio in 1998 and have been on the studio tour for 20 years.
Wylie said the tour has become routine for her, but for new artists, it presents a great learning experience.
“Our first few years, we were invited to be part of the tour at other artisans’ studios,” she said. “Our early tours helped us learn how to present and display our handcrafted work, as well as educate customers about the differences between a handmade item compared to what’s commercially available. We learned from artists with more experience who were willing to share what worked for them.”