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Let’s Get Crafty

By Frank Ruggiero (

Article Published: Feb. 27 | Modified: Feb. 27
Let’s Get Crafty

Area artist Lexie Danner will host a workshop on creative journal making in April at the Blue Ridge ArtSpace. Danner’s is one of many arts and crafts workshops the Watauga County Arts Council is offering this spring.
Photos courtesy of the Watauga County Arts Council


Workshop Schedule

Making Digital Images from Paintings
Thursday, March 6, 1 to 4 p.m.; $40
Led by Jo Ann Pippin, the workshop will explore inexpensive ways for painters to scan their works into digital images.

Drawing Classes for Children

Every Thursday, 5 to 6:30 p.m., starting March 6; $16 per class
Led by Katherine Marx, this course is designed for children ages 8 through 14 and will explore basic drawing techniques, with an emphasis on still life and figure drawings, and more.

Round Loom Knitting

Thursdays, March 20, 27 and April 3, 6 to 7 p.m.; $25 for three one-hour sessions, plus one-time $5 material fee
Led by Arvil Sale, the course will show students how to create beanies (or toboggans) with acrylic or wool yarns.

Mountain Whimsy Style Woodcarving

Thursdays, March 20, 27 and April 3, 7 to 9 p.m.; $60 for three two-hour sessions
Led by Arvil Sale, this workshop will allow participants to create two to three projects, while learning basic woodcarving techniques. All materials and tools are included.

Beginning Knitting
Wednesday, March 26, 1 to 4 p.m.; $50 for a three-hour session, plus $15 material fee
Led by Donna Leavitt, this course will teach students basic knitting techniques, including casting on, knit, purl, cast off and gauge.

Creative Journal Making
Saturday, April 5, 1 to 4 p.m.; $20 for a three-hour session, plus $5 material fee
Led by Lexie Danner, this course is geared toward girls ages 13 through 17. Using a plain journal as a base, they’ll learn to decorate it using collage and other two-dimensional materials.

Alcohol Ink
Every Tuesday, starting April 29, 5:30 to 8 p.m.; $40 per session, $190 for all six sessions
Led by Jody Bargerstock, the course will introduce participants to the relatively new medium of alcohol inks.

Introduction to East Asian Brush Painting
Twice daily for six weeks, starting May 21, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 6 to 8:30 p.m.; $180 for six sessions, plus $40 material fee
Led by Dawn Wicklow, students will learn the age-old brush stroke technique of the Chinese masters, using the “Four Treasures” — bamboo brush, ink stone, ink stick and paper.

Spring is a time for renewal and growth — literally and figuratively.

For the Watauga County Arts Council, it’s a little bit of a both.

The WCAC is embracing the forthcoming season with a series of arts and crafts workshops, offering folks a chance to try their hand at something new.

Be it drawing, knitting, wood-carving or East Asian brush painting, the workshops are open to folks of all ages, all skill sets and all interests, said Cherry Johnson, executive director of the Watauga County Arts Council.

“We want the workshops to serve everyone,” she said. “We want it to be a way for summer residents to get involved in our local community, for families to enjoy the arts, for artists to gain technical knowledge.”

The workshops are not only a means to try something new, but a conduit into the area’s artistic community, Johnson said.

“These workshops offer not just a way to explore new things, but also a way to … get to know other people with similar interests,” she said, adding that workshops offer short-term and long-term learning opportunities.

Some last only a few hours, others run for several weeks and a few run indefinitely.

“This is that opportunity to learn to do something you’ve always admired and thought you might want to try,” Johnson said. “It’s also an opportunity to try out an art from without getting too deeply committed until you figure out whether it’s something you want to pursue.”

So far, topics include digital image-making, drawing classes for children, round loom knitting, woodcarving, beginners’ knitting, creative journal making, alcohol ink and East Asian brush painting. In addition, since August, the council has offered music lessons through Appalachian State University’s Community Music School.

Workshop instructors are drawn from the WCAC’s extensive network of artists, many of whom have offered workshops in the area for years, Johnson said, adding that there’s always room for more.
All courses take place at the WCAC’s headquarters in Boone’s Blue Ridge ArtSpace.

“We’ve always wanted to offer workshops and classes, but our (previous) locations really didn’t lend themselves to that aspect of service to the community,” Johnson said.

Formerly based in downtown Boone’s Jones House Community Center and later in a commercial space on King Street, the WCAC struggled to find adequate space for such endeavors, especially when it came to visual arts and crafts. Further, a strategic planning session suggested that workshops and learning opportunities were among the organization’s highest priorities, Johnson said, adding that member feedback offered similar results.

“Our new location is ideally suited to this activity,” she said. “We have six classrooms, four of which are well-suited to the visual arts in particular, and our location is central to the entire county. Not only that, we have our own parking lot, so parking is easy, and it’s a very family-friendly environment.”

Accessibility is also a priority and in more ways than one. Not only is the building handicapped-accessible, but scholarships are offered to those who cannot afford workshop fees, Johnson said. Through St. Mary of the Hills’ grants program, which utilizes funds raised from its annual Blowing Rock Tour of Homes event, the WCAC maintains a regular scholarship fund.

“People can contribute to this fund, and we hope they will … in order to continue to make these workshops and other activities of the arts council available to others,” Johnson said. “We want the Blue Ridge ArtSpace to become the go-to place for community learning opportunities in the arts.”
The Blue Ridge ArtSpace is located at 377 Shadowline Drive in Boone. To register for classes, or for more information, call (828) 264-1789. For detailed information on each course, visit

Additional Images

Area artist Lexie Danner will host a workshop on creative journal making in April at the Blue Ridge ArtSpace. Danner’s is one of many arts and crafts workshops the Watauga County Arts Council is offering this spring.
Photos courtesy of the Watauga County Arts Council

Starting May 21, Dawn Wicklow will lead a workshop on East Asian brush painting at the Blue Ridge ArtSpace.

Area artist Arvil Sale will lead a woodcarving workshop in March through the Watauga County Arts Council.

Starting March 20, Arvil Sale will lead a workshop series on round loom knitting, in which students will learn how to create beanies (or toboggans).

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