Craft fairs and holiday pop-ups offer unique gifts

LARGE AND IN CHARGE: The Big Crafty brings 150 makers to the U.S. Cellular Center for a marathon weekend of holiday craft shopping. Pictured, the Kurt Sun Yun Studio booth, courtesy of The Big Crafty

Big-box shopping is fun for very few people, and the gifts that come from such stores tend to make only the briefest of impressions upon their recipients. If it’s the thought that counts, thoughtful gifts can be found in droves in the studios and galleries of Western North Carolina’s many artists and craftspeople. And, not only is purchasing handmade wares more inspirational than stressful, buying local puts more cash into the pockets of area artists and back into the local economy.

Plus, the numerous holiday-themed craft fairs and pop-ups that take place this time of year are social events filled with old and new friends and jolly vibes. Find more local craft fairs in Calendar and at mountainx.com.

• For 11 years, The Big Crafty has been inspiring joy in DIY craft enthusiasts, striking fear in the hearts of introverts, and probably conflicting many a solitude-loving DIY craft enthusiast, because it jampacks the U.S. Cellular Center, 87 Haywood St., with 150 creatives selling their wares. The crowded, colorful and hypersocial happening “supports the creative community in all its boundary-pushing, human-scale, all-in, full-tilt glory,” says the website. The Big Crafty Hand to Heart Holiday returns Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 7 and 8, opening at noon daily. thebigcrafty.com/

• There are two themes in play at the Holiday Makers Sale at the Folk Art Center: winter festivities and discounts. “This is the best opportunity to find deals on quality gifts … and a chance to connect with the craftspeople in the region,” says a press release. Makers will cycle out their remaining 2019 stock and offer new designs at 10%-50% discounts. Look for ceramic tableware, wooden bowls, jewelry, handwoven and dyed wearables, journals and etched cards, glass vases, ornaments and more. Milepost 382, Blue Ridge Parkway. Saturdays, Dec. 7 and 14, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. southernhighlandguild.org

Winter in the Weave, a two-day holiday market, returns with 20 local artists and small businesses. Watercolor paintings, wire bonsai tree art, jewelry, organic clothing, natural house-cleaning products, locally sourced seasonings and herbs, leather goods, home décor and more will be on display, and the pop-up “will also offer a drawing for a raffle basket filled with products from all of the vendors,” according to a press release. The shop can be found at Gotta Have It Antiques, 60 Monticello Road, Weaverville, Friday, Dec. 13, 5-8 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 14, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. avl.mx/6of

GLASS ACT: Makers will cycle out their remaining 2019 stock and offer new designs at deep discounts at the Holiday Makers Sale, held at the Folk Art Center. Pictured, ornaments by Jeff McKinley, courtesy of The Southern Highland Craft Guild

• The homepage for the Uncommon Market has a counter ticking down time to the next vending event. “Asheville’s largest market for the old, the bold, the creative and unexpected is in its fifth season of gathering quality curators of antiques, vintage decor, art, jewelry and home furnishings,” boasts the website. Get in on the action at the WNC Agricultural Center, 761 Boylston Highway, Fletcher, on Saturday, Dec. 14, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 15, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. $5 admission (good for both days)/free for kids. uncommonmarketasheville.com

• Members of the Transylvania County Handcrafters Guild “will offer handcrafted items for sale ranging from basketry, fiber art, weaving, enamelware, landscape painting, pottery, marionettes, jewelry and many other fine crafts, all suitable for unique Christmas gift,” says a flyer for the annual juried show. Just in case anyone missed it, because it’s buried in the list: marionettes. The show (at the Masonic Lodge, 174 E. Main St., Brevard), on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 13 and 14, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. is free and open to the public.

• “A gift for everyone on your list,” promises the website for the Show & Tell Holiday Pop-up Shop. The happening, which runs through Saturday, Dec. 21, at Asheville Social Hall, 81 Broadway, showcases “the best in local and indie craft, design, food and vintage goods,” from vendors such as The Inverse (accessories), Blossom and Blade (apparel), Randall Smith (visual art), Bella & Oliver Soap Co. (body care) and many more. Open daily 10 a.m.-8 p.m. avl.mx/6qg

• Celebrate or share the great outdoors with crafts from Bullington Gardens’ annual Holiday Craft and Greenery Sale. This is the 15th annual event for the horticultural education center and public gardens, and offerings include “free-standing owls and snowmen, holiday gnomes and ornaments,” as reported by a press release, as well as “premium amaryllis, poinsettias, cyclamens and Christmas cactus plants” and freshly cut Fraser fir trees from the WNC mountains. 95 Upper Red Oak Trail, Hendersonville. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6 and 7, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. bullingtongardens.org

• Riverview Station readies for its Holiday Open House showcasing more than 65 studios and galleries during a “Shop and Sip.” The free, family-friendly fete presents paintings, pottery, jewelry, mixed media, fiber art, photography and more, along with demonstrations, live music and refreshments. The open house seconds as a grand opening for new collaborative art space AVL Art Garden; other artists in Riverview Station also have special events planned. 191 Lyman St. Sunday, Dec. 15, noon-5 p.m. riverviewstation.com

HEART OF GLASS: Glassblower Kenny Pieper is one of the makers whose work will be included in the Toe River Arts Studio Tour. Photo courtesy of the artist

• Shop locally and support underserved artists at Open Hearts Art Center’s Holiday Pop-up Market. Ceramics, cards, gifts and original artworks are available in a 50% off sale. Hours are Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. through Friday, Dec. 20. 217 Coxe Ave. openheartsartcenter.org

• Partake of wine and warm cider at the aptly named Holiday Sip & Shop, held at Grovewood Gallery, 111 Grovewood Road. The annual event offers wooden bowls and utensils, ceramic tableware, blown glass, fine jewelry and much more, according to a press release. The sale runs Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6 and 7, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Kendall White will demonstrate wet felting on Friday, and Deanna Lynch will show small stitching, appliqué and mini-quilt work on Saturday. On both days, Karen Kennedy will be on hand, “needle-felting using locally dyed wool to create festive holiday snowmen.” grovewood.com

• There are only two chances each year to catch the Toe River Arts Studio Tour, and the next opportunity is Friday-Sunday, Dec. 6-8. “Approximately 100 artists participate throughout Yancey and Mitchell counties, representing a variety of media, such as pottery, paint, glass, metal, textiles, wood and mixed media,” reports a press release for the free, self-guided tour of galleries in Burnsville and Spruce Pine. Newcomers include Leah Leitson (porcelain), Jim and Mary Lynn Bowman (glass) and Will Manning (forged knives). Find info and guides at toeriverarts.org

• Multiple events comprise the Holly Jolly celebration at Black Mountain Center for the Arts, 225 W. State St., Black Mountain, on Friday, Dec. 6. Across the hall from the Clay Studio Exhibit (on view in the Upper Gallery through Dec. 20), the Holiday Pottery Market offers hundreds of items for purchase. The Youth Maker Market showcases the creativity of local children ages 8-16, such as paracord bracelets, specialty pencils, Zentangle art, postcards, watercolor art, bumper stickers and a wide variety of holiday ornaments, according to a press release. And in the theater, local authors Shelly Frome, Jeff Hutchins, David LaMotte, David Madden, Mamie Hilliard, Nonny Hogroian, David Kherdian and Jerry Pope present fiction and nonfiction books for sale. 5-7 p.m., free to attend. blackmountainarts.org

• For those who like to push things to the 11th hour (hey, procrastinators need love, too), The Regeneration Station, 26A Glendale Ave., holds its Last Minute Holiday Craft & Flea. “Find a special gift for everyone on your nice and naughty lists in one stop,” promises a Facebook invite for the 100-plus vendor extravaganza. Handcrafted jewelry, holiday decor, natural beauty products, knitted good, records, books, houseplants, postcards and more are on offer, along with “hot chocolate, until runs out.” Saturday, Dec. 21, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. avl.mx/6q8

• The Swannanoa WinterFest is “modeled on the traditional German Weihnachts markets,” a press release explains, and brings 20 artists, vendors and charity organizations to Grovemont Square, adjacent to the Swannanoa Library, 101 W. Charleston Ave., Swannanoa. At the outdoor gathering, “attendees can warm their hands over one of several fire pits while enjoying the delicious food, European holiday treats and drinks that will be available for purchase.” There will also be caroling, singalongs and festive lights. Saturday, Dec. 14, 4-8 p.m. Info at 828-250-6486

• The newly minted Refraction Art Market at the Wedge at Foundation, 5 Foundy St., was created by Andrew and Amy Massey, a ceramist and painter, respectively, to celebrate “the vibrant artistic energy the Wedge was built upon by featuring artists that have played integral roles within the Wedge community.” The organizers add, “The Wedge was … the place where you could count on sharing ideas and creative visions among a pool of equally passionate creators.” The market will showcase such visions, from glass and woodwork to tile, jewelry and more. Sunday, Dec. 15, 1-6 p.m. refractionartmarket.com

• Firestorm Books & Coffee, 610 Haywood Road, is home to the Firestorm Holiday Craft Pop-up Series, with 18 local makers ranging from illustrators and fiber artists to herbalists and a blade smith. The individual artists scheduled for each of three pop-ups can be found here. The shows also serve as a fundraiser for the Firestorm Community Sustainers Program and will take place on Saturday, Dec. 14; Sunday, Dec. 15; and Saturday, Dec. 21, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. each day. firestorm.coop

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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