Handmade arts and crafts are some of the best preservers of local history. Art influences the way we see and appreciate the culture around us. And artisans have an innate ability to not only encapsulate a piece of history in a single work of art, but they somehow capture the feeling and presence of the local culture. Their work allows us to understand how it may have felt to exist in a particular place and time.
And nowhere is that more evident than in the Western North Carolina Smoky Mountains. This region is overflowing with talented artisans – both traditional and contemporary – whose works tell the stories and heritage of Appalachia. Read on to discover five inspirational stops on the Blue Ridge Craft Trail that are right here in Maggie Valley. Explore these amazing handmade arts and crafts created by local artists and bring a piece of the Smoky Mountains home with you!
Blue Ridge Craft Trail
The Blue Ridge Mountains make up an enchanting area that has been a haven for artists and craftspeople for centuries. The natural beauty of this region is the perfect inspiration for artists and has become an epicenter for the arts and crafts community. From the River Arts District in Asheville to Penland School of Craft in Spruce Pine to the Southern Highlands Craft Guild, which highlights the works of over 800 local artists, these hills are alive with creativity and talent.
In Maggie Valley, right down the road from the Meadowlark Motel, you’ll find five fascinating stops on the craft trail where handcrafted traditions are keeping mountain heritage alive.
- The Haywood Quilt Trail is a drivable trail that takes you along scenic country roads in search of quilt “blocks” painted on wood and mounted to barns and buildings of historic significance. Just like a quilt pattern, hand sewn with love, these blocks represent Appalachian events, heritage, and memories and have become shorthand for the shared values of the community.
- Different Drummer Pottery is right down the street from the Meadowlark. Local potter and homegrown Maggie Valley, NC resident, Terrance Painter grew up swimming and fishing in Jonathan Creek, the very same stream that runs along our property and past our cozy Smoky Mountain cabins. (Fun fact: Terrance’s dad actually helped build the Meadowlark Motel!) His studio is housed in an old log cabin, giving a nod to the deep history of the Maggie Valley area. As a working studio and gallery in operation since 1980, Different Drummer Pottery is always open for guests to come in and watch. Swing by to see the latest pottery project Terrance is working on and shop his beautiful pieces of art!
- Woodburnings by Myron is filled with pyrography by local resident, Myron Carter. A lot of his work is inspired by photographs that he’s taken, with subject matter that ranges from old barns to moonshine stills to important people in his life. You’ll find wooden plaques, keepsake boxes, and more. Bonus: Myron runs Valley Puzzle Rooms, themed escape rooms that include details designed by Myron himself.
- Mountain Mike’s Whetstone Woodworks showcases the chainsaw carvings of Mike Ayers. He looks at a tree trunk and sees the form just waiting to be revealed with nothing more than a chainsaw and his imagination. From a safe distance, you can watch as he carves his creations on-site. You might see anything from native Western North Carolina animals to superheroes or anything you can dream up. (Fun fact: Mike holds the world record for most bears carved in an hour at thirty-eight.)
- Mike McKinney’s Maggie Valley studio is filled with beautiful wood pieces that include natural edge bowls, salad bowls, lidded bowls, urns, and more. These gorgeous works are then embellished with texture and carvings to add personality. One of Mike’s specialties is crafting a piece that holds special meaning for his customers – like a bowl turned from specially chosen wood from a childhood home.
If you want to venture beyond Maggie Valley and explore more of the craft trail, the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area has developed an incredible way for visitors and locals alike to connect with these representations of Appalachian history and culture. Through a network of craft trails that you can filter by interest and region, you can explore over 200 craft sites, including galleries, shops, studios, and art events. Curated itineraries will also give you options for local food, wineries, breweries, music venues, outdoor activities, and stunning scenic mountain views.
All of the handmade items you’ll see on the Blue Ridge Craft Trail – like pottery, woodworking, quilting, beadwork, glass blowing, and so much more – are created by local Western North Carolina artists. Stop by their shops where to buy generic accutane to purchase something for your home. And if you’re feeling inspired, a lot of the artists offer workshops and classes. In the Appalachian tradition of passing their craft on to the next generation, these artists are thrilled to share their knowledge and passion for creating art. Join in the tradition and make your own piece of Smoky Mountain history!
Make the Meadowlark Motel your home base as you explore the Maggie Valley artists on the Blue Ridge Craft Trail. Check out our rooms and cabin rentals and book your stay here!