Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on November 22, 2023.
The newly announced Blue Ridge Craft Trails are an incredible connection between travelers and artists across Western North Carolina. Since they include 25 counties, we’ve narrowed this article down to feature more than 20 artists that reside and work in Haywood County.
Specifically, our guide focuses on Maggie Valley and Waynesville artists and those working in Canton and Clyde. We also share a summary of the Blue Ridge trails, how to find them, and things to do before and after you meet these amazing artists.
Here’s an outline of our guide if you want to skip ahead:
- What are the Blue Ridge Craft Trails?
- How to Experience the Blue Ridge Craft Trails
- Haywood County Blue Ridge Craft Trails
- Blue Ridge Craft Trails Artists in Maggie Valley
- Blue Ridge Craft Trail Artists in Waynesville
- Blue Ridge Craft Trails Artists in Canton and Clyde
- More Things to Do in Haywood County
Read More: Unique Things to Do in North Carolina
What are the Blue Ridge Craft Trails?
The Blue Ridge Heritage Trails are the area’s latest effort, connecting our mountain towns and regional artists with travelers and residents.
This curated trail includes more than 300 artists and galleries spread across 25 counties.
Read More: 75+ Fun Day Trips from Asheville
How to Experience the Blue Ridge Craft Trails
Through the Blue Ridge Craft Trails website, you can plan your adventures by region or even by interest. Specific types of makers are also highlighted, including fiber arts, basketry, Cherokee crafts, pottery, and so much more.
First, decide on an itinerary or artists you would like to visit. Then, you’ll determine if they have studio hours or are only available via appointment.
Many artists work out of their private homes or separate studios, so coordinating your visit is an essential step in planning.
Regional itineraries help you combine your cultural experiences with local food and outdoor recreation.
Haywood County Craft Trails, Blue Ridge Mountains
As we mentioned, we’re focusing on Haywood County, a wonderful area in our Smoky Mountains. Haywood County’s Blue Ridge Craft Trails include the following segments:
- Far West: Maggie Valley/ Memorial Views and Creations All Around
- Far West: Waynesville Mountains of Music and Creativity
- Far West: Canton and Clyde/Creativity, Hospitality and Natural Beauty
Read More: The NC Tripping North Carolina Travel Map
Blue Ridge Craft Trails Artists in Maggie Valley
Maggie Valley is full of fun things to do, shops, restaurants, and motels along the creek (like Meadowlark Motel). The small town is also home to various beautiful artists along the Blue Ridge Trails.
Different Drummer Pottery
2614 Soco Road, Maggie Valley, NC
You don’t need a North Carolina Potter trail map to find this one. Located in a log cabin, Different Drummer Pottery is a must-stop along the North Carolina Craft Trail.
Run by a father and son duo, Terry and Caden Painter, their work consists of functional pottery and distinct glaze combinations that often take months to develop.
Throwing clay and glazing since 1980, Different Drummer Pottery is also unique in their firing of Crock Drums. These have a ceramic body with a wood playing surface, reverberating to create a rich deep tone.
Terry and Caden also produce fine art pieces. These pieces often depict intricate landscapes and decorative patterns.
Mountain Mike’s Whetstone Woodworks
491 Soco Road Maggie Valley, NC
You’ll know you’re in Haywood County when you start seeing sizeable intricate wood carvings alongside the road. Some of these magnificent pieces belong to Mountain Mike—a world-class chainsaw carver!
Inside his shop at Mountain Mike’s Whetstone Woodworks, you’ll find chainsaw carvings ranging in height from 1 foot to 14 feet! Mountain Mike will carve anything you can think of, as long as he can find a large enough log.
18 Nottingham Road Maggie Valley, NC
Another Mike on Maggie Valley’s Blue Ridge Craft Trails is Mike McKinney, a fourth-generation woodworker. Despite the strong family love of woodworking, Mike didn’t find his passion for the lathe until later in life.
Today, he crafts natural-edge bowls and functional pieces.
His woodshop is open by appointment only, but when you arrive, you’ll be welcomed in just like family. If you’re lucky, Mike’s wife Vanessa will take you through her collection of wood bowls, sharing remarkable stories about each piece!
More Maggie Valley Artists along the Blue Ridge Craft Trails
- Woodburnings by Myron: Myron specializes in pyrography (wood burning) inspired by his own photography. In the same location as Maggie Valley Puzzle Rooms, Myron has also designed everything in the escape rooms!
- Haywood Quilt Trails: Drive through the winding roads and beauty of Maggie valley in search of quilt blocks. Each block is eight feet across and can be seen easily from the road. Download your driving map or pick up a fold-out map at the Haywood County Visitor Center.
Blue Ridge Craft Trail Artists in Waynesville
Waynesville is a thriving community where many of the local artists are within walking distance of Main Street. In addition, our guide features some of the artists beyond downtown.
Christina Bendo Pottery
109 Pigeon Street, Waynesville, NC
Deeply connected to the natural world, Christina Bendo uses local clay to throw both functional and decorative pottery. Mendo depicts beautiful natural scenes with flora and fauna observed from her natural environment.
Christina uses wood and salt fires found among traditional potters in Seagrove. Her functional pieces, made from the Earth we all walk on, remind us of our connection to the world.
Mud Dabbers Pottery & Crafts
20767 Great Smoky Mountain Expressway, Waynesville, NC
Mud Dabbers is one of the more whimsical and playful pottery studios on Waynesville’s section of the North Carolina Craft Trails.
The name is a lighthearted take on dirt daubers, in which tiny insects build their nests out of the mud. Just like those dirt daubers, Mud Dabbers hand-craft all of the items from natural materials.
Each family member in charge—the Dobsons—possesses a distinct style. They range from traditional and functional to contemporary and decorative.
This studio stays active, and you’ll often see a potter working during your visit.
Glass by Gayle
247 Sunnyside Road, Waynesville, NC
Gayle Haynie started her career in glass more than 30 years ago and now owns a Glass by Gayle. She began with stained glass, progressed to learn about fused glass, experimented with the medium, and tested the boundaries of what is possible.
One of Gayle’s interactive studio highlights is her classes, which is a significant highlight of Haywood County’s Blue Ridge Craft Trails. She currently offers private and group lessons, and participants can experience stained glass, fused glass, or mosaics in tile.
More Waynesville Blue Ridge Craft Trails Artists
- Haywood County Arts Council & Gallery: An excellent place to start your journey on the Haywood County Blue Ridge Craft Trails would be the Haywood County Arts Council & Gallery. The non-profit and volunteer run gallery showcases artwork from Western North Carolina artists and provides as an excellent educational center for the local community.
- Kaaren Stoner Design Studio: Working with clay since 1969, Kaaren’s work is inspired by nature. You can visit her home studio by appointment only.
- Jeweler’s Workbench: Located in downtown Waynesville, the Jeweler’s Workbench offers fine Carolina crafting and jewelry from more than 50 artists in the Great Smoky Mountain region.
- Metzger’s Burl Wood Gallery: Burl wood is a natural phenomenon that occurs when the grain of the tree becomes deformed. Steve Metzger and his son Daniel work with these burls to create one-of-a-kind furniture and art. Visit their downtown shop and see a large variety of works on display including desks, headboards, lamps, and more!
- Twigs and Leaves Gallery: Started by Kaaren Stoner, Twigs and Leaves Gallery is now owned by Carrie and John Keith. They’ve maintained Kaaren’s theme and feature art and fine crafts from over 145 Southern Appalachian artists.
- Green Hill Gallery: Owned by Waynesville natives, Joyce and Jimmy Massie have curated a fantastic collection of work with a variety of mediums at Green Hill Gallery. One-third of the work found in the gallery is produced by artists within a 30-mile radius, too!
- Whitewoven Textile Arts: Tucked between Maggie Valley and Lake Junaluska, Whitewoven Textile Arts Studio featured hand waving and mixed media techniques. Owner Sheree Sorrells is known for her “GraffitiMats”, a fabric collage that consists of 20 layers of fabric, paint, and finish.
- Waynesville Public Art Trail: While visiting the Carolina crafting artists in downtown Waynesville, take a moment to pause at the public art! Scattered across the entire town, you can follow this self-guided public walking tour with your phone!
- Red Metal: The female-owned Red Metal is a contemporary blacksmithing shop featuring works of art and furniture with elements of architecture, activism, and collaboration. Open by appointment, owner Rachel David is typically working on custom pieces, but visitors are welcome to visit the shop, talk to Rachel, and even watch her work!
- Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts: Located in the 1875 farm house known as the Shelton House, The Museum of NC Handicrafts was established in 1977 by Mary Cornwell. The house is filled with antiques and heritage crafts from artists of the past and present. Guided tours are available for $7 per adult. See their website for dates and more details.
Read More: 40+ Amazing Museums in North Carolina
Blue Ridge Craft Trails Artists in Canton and Clyde
Canton and Clyde are smaller towns in eastern Haywood County, home to artists working in various mediums.
Haywood Community College is also here and offers a Professional Craft Program. Artists can receive an excellent education with two-year intensive courses in Clay, Fiber, Jewelry, and Wood.
Speaking of which, here are some Blue Ridge Craft Trails artists in this part of the county.
Art Jewelry by Ilene
411 Redfield Drive Clyde, NC
Ever since childhood, Ilene Kay has loved to sketch her natural environment. Now, she continues to do the same, using jewelry as her medium.
At her studio, Art Jewelry by Ilene, she uses Argentium, silver, gold, heat-colored titanium, and copper to depict the natural world. Open by appointment only, Ilene’s work also has an Asian aesthetic that is unique and beautiful.
722 Freedom Drive Canton, NC
Coming from a family tradition of furniture building, Desmond Suarez and his son Devin produce beautiful wood furniture at Sabbath-Day Woods.
Their inspirations are the American Shakers, American Prairie school, Scandinavian, and modern Japanese design. In addition, visitors to Sabbath-Day Woods will find uniquely crafted woodwork.
Browse the working studio and find wooden clocks, lamps, trays, serving boards as well as pottery, glass, and more!
Thomas Langan American Folk Art
1216 Hunters Ridge Road Canton, NC
Thomas Langan’s work as a woodcarver comes from his love for the outdoors and hunting. The self-taught carver features pine-carved animals and wildlife.
Langan has work that can be seen globally, including a permanent display in Manhattan’s Museum of American Folk Art.
Open by appointment only, and visitors can watch Thomas carve with pneumatic tools and watch as he hand-paints his work.
Ready to Meet these Blue Ridge Craft Trails Artists?
With the sheer number of skilled craftspeople in Haywood County, it’s impossible to imagine someone exploring all of Blue Ridge Craft Trails in less than a decade. However, we think you’ll be off to a great start with these artists, who continue to create masterful work.
More Things to Do in Haywood County
Thank you to Visit NC Smokies for hosting us during this experience! If you’re looking for more things to do in Haywood County, beautiful towns and outdoor activities await as well. Here are a few of them:
Also, there are other craftspeople in the Blue Ridge mountains, from Blowing Rock (Mountain Thread Company) to Banner Elk, Flat Rock, Jackson County, and even a Hendersonville Craft Trail, but this post is exclusive to Haywood County.