Back in Craft: An update on Asheville’s two July juggernauts

Textile artist Teresa Hays is the featured artist at the Virtual Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands.

Presenting juried crafts and their makers from nine states remains the mission of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, which will host the 74th season of its biannual Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands online this month. During the four-day event, artists will livestream from their studios via Facebook, Instagram, and Zoom. This summer’s featured crafter is textile artist Teresa Hays.

“The online event allows those who are still uncomfortable with in-person events, and even those who just like to shop online, to attend the Fair from the comfort of their homes,” explains Southern Highland Craft Guild Director of Marketing Millie Davis. (The Fair’s October installment will take place in person.) “From a computer or mobile device, visitors can explore a variety of quality handmade gifts and home decor as they shop directly from the artists,” says Davis. “We have some great pieces listed for the raffle drawing, which will benefit the Guild’s educational mission, as well as some special giveaways scheduled for our Instagram followers.”

Asheville-made ware at the (in-person) Big Crafty will include jewelry by Kylie Agee (31 Suns Studio).

July’s other major event, The Big Crafty — a celebration of inspired creatives that grew out of the strong local DIY movement — recently announced it will be back in person this month. The founders, librarian Brandy Bourne and artist Justin Rabuck, first hosted the first Big Crafty in 2008. Since then, they have held the popular event at large venues around the city (typically in July and early December). This summer’s Big Crafty will be outdoors at Pack Square Park with approximately 150 artist vendors and mediums ranging from pottery to metal, painting, woodwork, cutlery, candles, pyrography, jewelry, photography, fiber art, paper goods, wearable art, and more.

“Curating events and looking through artists’ portfolios is always a treat, but this year has been unlike any other,” Bourne states to Asheville Made. “I keep hearing rumors of a post-pandemic renaissance, and looking at the creative leaps artists have taken, I got an inkling of that. It feels real. I think there was an atmosphere of no-rules, a time for experimentation, or a time for creative playfulness as a way of coping with tough times. 

Shearling pouches from Laura Wood Studios that will be at the Big Crafty.

“We have some new faces — including some who were going to be new a year ago — but we’re going to see a lot of folks from our core art and craft community who have taken their work in really interesting new directions, or have really taken it to the next level. That’s always the case — it’s what we’re always looking for — but more so this year.”

The Big Crafty takes place in person at Pack Square Park (1 North Pack Square, Asheville) on Sunday, July 11, 12-7pm. Free. For more information, visit thebigcrafty.com or e-mail crafty@thebigcrafty.com. The Virtual Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands, hosted by the Southern Highland Craft Guild, takes place Thursday, July 15 through Sunday, July 18 online; see the event link at southernhighlandguild.org. For more information, e-mail info@craftguild.org, call 828-298-7928, or register on their Facebook Page: @shcraftguild. The Fall Craft Fair will take place in person, Oct. 14-17, at Harrah’s Cherokee Center (87 Haywood St. in Asheville).

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