Arts & Crafts

People have always appreciated the beauty of Appalachian fiber arts, going way back to the settler days. What began as a necessity, when mothers took great pains to stitch their children’s clothing with precision and pride, became an art form. Young women respected the hours and hours their forebears spent at quilting bees. Brides admired the handiwork in a fine-knitted afghan handed down from one generation to the next. And no home was complete without a carefully crafted needlepoint sampler hung in every bedroom.

Make this simple Appalachian winter afghan project

A quick and easy crochet project

My friend came to work dressed in the most beautiful shades of blue, gray and off-white recently. It reminded me of the Appalachian Mountains in winter. I was inspired!

As Appalachian as the banjo and as ancient as civilization

Few artists embody the Appalachian culture, the autumnal colors and the handcrafted heritage of the Appalachian Mountains like Matt Tommey. He produces “sculptural basketry for luxury mountain homes that include wall hangings, tabletop pieces, fireplace mantel installations and collections for the pedestal or shelf.” In other words, he creates woven baskets as ornamental art.

Seven autumn activities to do with your crafty kids

It wouldn’t be a real Appalachian autumn without watching children dive into a huge pile of fallen leaves. It’s a rite of passage, a way to tell time — you see who jumps right in, who wasn’t quite ready last year but now goes full-speed ahead, and who were master leaf-jumpers last year but might be a little too cool for it this year. But when the kids get tired of jumping, how do you keep them busy, and what do you do with all those leaves?

The fruit you scoop from innards of a gourd can be just as tasty as any squash, pumpkin or zucchini. Boil it, mash it, grill it or mix it all up into a tasty casserole for your next potluck event. Cook your gourds with butter, olive oil or deep-fried breading. Season your gourds with brown sugar, cinnamon or sage. With cooler weather approaching, you’ll see more gourds at the farmers markets. And while you may be tempted to grab some gourds while they are ripe, consider leaving a few in the sun for more artistic endeavors.

Inside and Out

A century ago, quilting wasn’t considered an art form; it was a matter of necessity. Appalachian settlers sat by the fire after the sun went down and the chores were done, sewing together warm, cozy blankets for the family. Using scraps of clothing too worn out to wear anymore, the frugal settlers made quilts that provided physical warmth and the warmth of nostalgia, as their owners wrapped themselves in the soft fabric and reminisced. With their vibrant colors and striking patterns, it soon became apparent that quilts were more than just household goods: they were works of art. And so, the era of quilt shows began, allowing quilters to showcase and sell their gorgeous quilts. Here’s a list of some fall quilt shows around the Appalachians.
As a wedding photographer, Kathy Beaver knows a little bit about love. She’s seen countless expressions of love and captured many of them through her lens. She also has first-hand experience with the subject — it’s safe to say she loves Western North Carolina and Asheville. And she knows the terrain around Asheville as well as she knows her camera.
A professional photographer’s advice for capturing your kids Kathy Beaver of Kathy Beaver Photography generously offers Simply Appalachian readers a number of tips for taking your own back-to-school photos of your children.
Introduced to the mountain communities of Appalachia after the Civil War, the banjo has become synonymous with old-time mountain music since the early twentieth century. But the instrument has been around in the U.S. since the early nineteenth century. Originally brought to the country by African slaves, the banjo didn’t gain American popularity until white blackface minstrels traveled the country playing a mix of vaudeville, African-American, Scottish-Celtic and ballads.
A review of craft camps around Appalachia Camp is not just for kids anymore. A craft camp presents a great opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds to immerse themselves in activities they love. Whether you want some laid-back summer fun or a chance to hone a serious skill set, attend a craft camp. Craft camps can help you connect to local culture, develop a passion, and spend time with like-minded others. There is a strong folk tradition involved with mastering a craft, and you can find many good craft camps to choose from in the Appalachian area.