Artisan Craft Centers

                                                                Heartwood, Abingdon, VA

After we left North Carolina we had the opportunity to visit two special artisan craft centers.  The first was Heartwood, in Abingdon, VA, in the heart of Appalachia.  Our second visit here was on August 2, 2012.

Just inside the door they have a display that includes two of the Virginia wolves which were decorated by local artists.  They have done this several times.  The wolves are displayed around town and then auctioned off.  The auction is hosted by Advance Abingdon, as a public art fundraising project.  The proceeds of the auction benefit the town.  The organization’s mission is to enhance and promote vitality in downtown Abingdon, while preserving its historical assets.  We did not have time this year to find and photograph all the wolves, but we did that in 2009 and found it an enjoyable way to see the town.

But we digress.  Heartwood has about six rooms full of crafts of different kinds.  They include quilts, ceramics, glass, wood, furniture, Christmas decorations, weaving, baskets, dolls and music.  The displays are done in a way that honors the artisans.                                                               

We visited during the day and again in the evening, to have dinner and enjoy a jam session of local musicians, featuring bluegrass music.  The music was a lot of fun, especially since the musicians moved around the building and played in different spots.  Heartwood has a restaurant which serves good food.

The items are pricey, fitting for the quality of the work.  They are displayed in such a way that each item can be appreciated.  If you like to see beautiful handwork, Heartwood is a must see if you are in the area.  It’s worth going just for the beautiful, peaceful setting.

Heartwood is located at exit 14 on I-81 in Abingdon, VA.  You can find more information at http://www.heartwoodvirginia.org

On August 3, 2012 we headed towards Pittsburgh, with a recommendation that if we liked Heartwood, we should stop at Tamarack in Beckley, WV.  Heartwood features the crafts of southwest Virginia, while Tamarack showcases the crafts of West Virginia.  It is located at exit 45 on I-77 in West Virginia.

Tamarack has a beautiful ring-shaped building, which includes a food court and studios for artisans as well as a huge display floor.  The sheer number of items on display is overwhelming.  The way the shelves are stocked it almost appears that the items are mass produced rather than hand crafted. However, as with Heartwood, there is much beautiful work on display, including furniture, ceramics, baskets, glass, candles, quilts, woodwork and much more.  One reason for the more commercial feel at Tamarack is that they have a large display of Fiesta ware,  which is definitely mass produced.  We were told that the prices at Tamarack were more affordable.  However, from what we saw, the prices are comparable to those at Heartwood.  If you want to be able to chose from multiple very similar items, Tamarack is the place to go.  If you want more unique items, Heartwood is the better choice.  Both are worth visiting, and are excellent places to find a wide variety of beautiful handmade items.

You can find more information on Tamarack at http://www.tamarackwv.com

Pictures from both centers can be found in the photo album.

                                                         Tamarack, Beckley, WV

© Susan L. Stone 2015                   rovingstones@me.com