Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Asheville Road Trip Recap: The Beady Side of Things

My husband has done a great job chronicling our recent road trip to Asheville, North Carolina (aka Beer City USA) over on his blog.  You can check that out HERE if you are interested... (That link will bring up all his Asheville posts but probably in reverse order.)  I'd highly recommend it if you're considering a trip to this fun city and are looking for suggestions.  His focus is more on the beer and food side of things, so I thought I'd finally share a little bit of the beady/arty side of our trip... ok, mostly beady.

Asheville is well known not just for beer, but also as being a haven for artists.  There are tons of art galleries and artist's studios throughout the city... way more than we could get to in the six days we were there unless we cut out all the eating and drinking that we wanted to do!  (And if you know me you know THAT wasn't going to happen!)  Pretty early in our trip we found some artwork that was quite tempting at the Woolworth Walk... but we weren't quite ready to buy anything since we had just begun to explore.  I often need to walk away from something and think about it before I'm ready to make the leap.  On this trip I knew we still had the whole River Arts District to get to so we waited and continued to window shop around downtown.

While the food, breweries, and art would have been plenty to draw us to Asheville, we were also lucky to be able to meet up with some of our friends that we have met through my jewelry making (and also a friend from my childhood).

One of my friends from the Bead Cruise, Barb Wilcox, and her husband Bob live in the area and we had the pleasure of spending the better part of Monday with the two of them.  We had a lovely lunch followed by a trip to one of Barb's favorite bead stores, Cherry Tree Beads.  They are primarily an online store but they do have a wholesale showroom.  Luckily, I was able to print out a copy of my tax id information at the hotel to use on this field trip!  This place was off the beaten track and, other than a small sign outside, relatively unmarked.  I picked up lots of nice gemstones and some other odds and ends.

I never would have found this place on my own!

Barb and I in front of beads... I wanted to buy everything!
My haul from Cherry Tree Beads.
Tuesday was spent traipsing around Biltmore House.  We did the Rooftop Tour which offered us some pretty amazing views from the top of that monster of a house!  An added bonus for me was the special "Dressing Downton" exhibit they had at the time featuring costumes from Downton Abbey.  It was fun to see the outfits in person... especially the dresses featuring elaborate beading!

Wednesday we devoted to wandering around the River Arts District in search of any art that we had to take home with us.  This area is nestled along the French Broad River and is home to over 180 working studios housed within 22 former factories and historical buildings.  We had great fun wandering from studio to studio seeing what various artists were all about.  My only quibble is that this arts district is fairly small geographically and in theory should be walkable.  The lack of sidewalks or any sort of safe pathway for much of the journey around the studios made things a bit precarious.  As it stands now, you're better off driving from place to place which really does seem silly.

There were a number of artists whose work we were very impressed by and a few things made it onto our mental list of possible art souvenirs.  We finally made the leap and pulled out the pocket book when we reached Broken Road Studio and saw the work of Philip DeAngelo.  We ended up bringing a little bit of Asheville home with us in this painting on reclaimed tin from downtown.

One thing we noticed during our stay in Asheville is that a lot of the shops and galleries open a little later than we are used to at home... or at least that's what their posted hours say.  Most places didn't seem to begin their days until 11 am.  On our last day in Asheville, we had early lunch plans with our friends Andrew Thornton and William Jones who just happened to have an overlapping trip.  Even with our habit all during this trip of getting ready at a pretty leisurely pace, we still headed out into the the gorgeous day with some time to spare before our lunch date.  Luckily for me, one of the places downtown that opened earlier was a bead store!  Score!  We headed over to Chevron Trading Post & Bead Co. to do a little shopping.  I bought an awful lot of seed beads for someone who is more into wirework and such, but they had a really nice selection and some great mixes that I couldn't pass up.  A few more gemstones and some pendants found there way into my shopping cart too!

So many beads!  
After a delicious lunch of Indian street food at Chai Pani with Andrew and William, Eric and I ventured back to the River Arts District to see a few more galleries and to purchase some sweet enameled silver flowers that had captured my imagination from Monty Phillips of Fancy Dirt Forge.  Oh and we did end up going back to the Woolworth Walk for a new piece of art for our library.

Photographic evidence that we saw William and Andrew!
As a fun aside, I didn't get to actually see my friend Patty Bilbro, but we did have breakfast with some her pots at Early Girl!  Patty no longer lives in Asheville, so we were a few years too late on that front.  Her pottery is amazing... you should check her out HERE!

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