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Treasure Along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Submitted: August 21, 2009 by Linda M. Erbele

Western North Carolina seems to have more than its share of both inspiring scenery and creative talent. Studios, workshops and galleries dot the landscape here, but are often off the main road and lack good signage. Winding along the Blue Ridge Parkway, you could be passing the little river rock cottage where women have been weaving throws, clothes and linens since 1920. The Crossnore Weavers Gallery also offers local pottery. You might miss metal artist Bill Brown's Anvil Arts Studio, just a half mile off the Parkway.

The organization HandMade in America, an Asheville-based non-profit representing artists and crafts people, has undertaken to catalog the creative businesses that are open to the public. You can search by pottery, painting, woodwork or weaving, then design an itinerary that takes you there.

Here you will find folk pottery made as generations of families have made it - shaping hand-dug clay on a kick wheel in an open-air work shop, or choose modern stoneware fired with the latest in glazes and design. In addition to the galleries and studios, you'll find art glass, one-of-a-kind jewelry, baskets, unique metal works, gourd designs and hand-made candles and soap.

In Boone for example, you can visit Doe Ridge Pottery, Miters Touch Woodworking, and the Hands Gallery Co-op. From there, travel the Blue Ridge Parkway through beautiful mountain vistas to Asheville, where you can enjoy Steebo Design, Stuart Nye Hand Wrought Jewelry and dozens of galleries. If you're planning a trip in October, you won't want to miss the annual Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands held at the Civic Center in Asheville. Take advantage of the discounts you can get from motel.com and then set out on a hand-crafted treasure hunt. You can bring some of the beauty of the mountains home with you.