HandMade in America
Some years ago, craftspeople, community leaders, educators and business people joined together in active partnerships to promote and develop Western North Carolina's handcraft industry.
A lamp made by Bill Brown, Handmade in America artist
The nonprofit organization HandMade in America promotes the region's handmade culture in the fields of education, tourism, business, and government. Its mission is "to celebrate the hand and the handmade; to nuture the creation of traditional and contemporary crafts; to revere and protect our resources; and to preserve and enrich the spiritual, cultural and community life of our region."
The organization allows urban and rural areas to benefit equally while bringing together a unique collection of entrepreneurs, small business associations, educational institutions, and corporations around a common theme.
HandMade is governed by a twenty-two member board of directors representing a cross-section of people and interests from a 21-county region. Five of the board serve as officers. On a day-to-day basis, the work of HandMade is carried out by an executive director and administrative assistant.
The twenty-year goals of HandMade in America include:
- To develop community strategies that will collaboratively enhance Western North Carolina's role nationally and internationally within the handmade field.
- To establish an academic base to empower crafts throughout all levels of education as object, subject and process.
- To develop a communication plan that establishes Western North Carolina's role as the center for HandMade in America.
- To implement environmentally sustainable economic strategies for Western North Carolina that emphasize the handmade industry.
- To implement strategies that will enhance opportunities for handmade object makers within Western North Carolina.
- To actively encourage the public, private and nonprofit sectors develop independent and interdependent vehicles that build the handmade industry.
Sample products, programs, and projects
- The Craft Heritage Trails of Western North Carolina
This illustrated book takes visitors on back roads and scenic byways, to craft studios, galleries, restaurants, historic inns and other notable attractions along the way.
- Farms, Gardens and Countryside Trails of North Carolina
In partnership with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service-NCSU and the Blue Ridge Heritage Initiative, HandMade in America has developed garden and countryside trails through North Carolina and Virginia along the Blue Ridge Parkway and published the guidebook.
- Economic Impact of Craft in Western North Carolina
This study, commissioned by HandMade in America, was conducted in 1995 by researchers at the Center for Business Research at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. It measured incomes of full and part-time craftspeople, sales generated by shops and galleries, spending patterns at craft fairs, and the impact of craft-related suppliers and schools. The study clearly indicates that handmade objects play a vital role in the region's economy. The total annual economic contribution is approximately $122 million. That figure is four times the revenue generated from burley tobacco, the region's largest cash crop. The survey also revealed some of the challenges and needs of the craft community, including access to capital and marketing and business services.
- Small Voices, Big Songs: A Story of American Renewal
Too small to qualify for established revitalization efforts such as the national Main Street Program, communities along the Craft Heritage Trails turned to HandMade for assistance. The Small Towns Project is based on a program of mentoring, technical assistance, self-help, and learning from each other and from neighboring communities. HandMade worked with the NC Rural Center in 1999 on a documentation project that presents the stories of each town's renewal in a publication called Small Voices, Big Songs: A Story of American Renewal. This 55-page documentary tells the stories of the six original small towns and the process based on the assets of each community, their heritage, their resources and their strengths.
- Explorations in Community, 1994-1999
This five year report gives an overview of our community building efforts in Western North Carolina.
- Craft Across the Curriculum
HandMade in America's Craft Across The Curriculum program offers hands-on workshops which bring teachers together with local artists. The goal of the program is to utilize craft and the region's craft heritage as a means of teaching math, language arts, science and social sciences and to give local artists another vehicle for sharing their craft knowledge and art form.
- The Center for Craft, Creativity and Design, now integrated as a part of the University of North Carolina System, was established to incorporate the subject of craft -- with an emphasis on creativity and design -- as a valued part of university curricula.
- By Our Hands is a documentary photography exhibit on display at the Asheville Regional Airport. The exhibit features artists working along the heritage trails of Western North Carolina. It celebrates the handcrafted object and the creative process within each artist.
HandMade in America
P.O. Box 2089
Asheville, NC 28802