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GreenHill WINTER SHOW exhibition of contemporary NC Artists

greenhill winter show
greenhill winter show

Congratulations to Cindy Long who was recently asked to participate in GreenHill Center for NC Art‘s upcoming WINTER SHOW invitational exhibition, December 11, 2022 – February 15, 2023. Edie Carpenter, Director of Artistic & Curatorial Programs, discovered Cindy’s handwoven work on the NC Handmade website!

The exhibition presents works by 60+ artists from all over the state. All works are for sale. This year, after a two-year hiatus, GreenHill is returning to their Collector’s Choice gala opening to be held on Saturday, December 10. This event allows you to experience Winter Show, AND purchase art in advance of the public opening! 

GreenHill is located in Greensboro NC and engages a broad and diverse community of artists, adults and children through dynamic statewide exhibitions and educational programs while providing a platform for exploration and investment in art. As a gateway to North Carolina’s creative community, GreenHill is dedicated exclusively to presenting and promoting the contemporary visual art and artists of NC. Inspired by a vision for cultural equity and inclusionGreenHill’s wide-ranging initiatives build empathy and connection through expressive, innovative and thought-provoking art. 

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Sharing their gift

cindy teaching at loom
cindy teaching at loom

Sharing their gift

NC Handmade artisans are spreading the joy they find in their craft.

Weaver Cindy Long recently spent three afternoons demonstrating loom weaving with Miss Kelly’s K-6 art classes at Two Rivers Community School in Boone, NC. After showing the students how the loom works, she encouraged each of them to try it for themselves. Together the students created a unique scarf which they presented to the director of the school, Natalie Oransky. The kids had so much fun they made big, beautiful cards with special messages for Cindy to thank her for sharing her knowledge.

Quilter Marilyn Gore made a Zoom presentation, Talking Threads: My Journey as an African American Quilter and My Quilt History to the Charlotte Quilters Guild. She discussed how African American quilts follow a different set of rules where improvisation replaces repetition, off-setting is preferred over matching, and the grid is abandoned for a vertical strip format which results in wonderful and exciting energy. She showed examples of historic quilts and recommended some of her favorite quilters Roberta Horton, Harriet Powers, Roland Freeman and the Women of Gee’s Bend. Marilyn also offered an intimate look at quilts created by her own family.

One participant commented: 

I also wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your lecture at our last Guild meeting.  It’s plain to see that quilting is your passion as you just lit up when you started talking about your quilts.  Thank you for sharing that with us. I don’t think anybody wanted the meeting to end.

Happy Quilting,


Fiddlemaker Mike Anderson has a longstanding tradition of sharing the love of music by giving away one of his handmade fiddles to a young North Carolinian between the ages of 10 and 17 every year near the winter holidays. The prize is awarded based on a 300-word essay submitted by each entrant explaining why they or someone they know should receive a free violin. Mike says sometimes the essays are so good, he has a hard time picking just one. Essays must be emailed to between December 1st and December 15th and include all your contact information. ONLY North Caroline residents can win a Christmas Violin. The 2021 recipient was Ana from Raleigh, North Carolina.

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Julia “Julie” Ottesen

reception table

Julia (Julie) Ottesen

July 31, 1931 – October 9, 2021

reception table

It is with deep sadness and profound respect that we acknowledge the passing of Julia Ottesen, one of the first artisans to join NC Handmade.

There were many iterations to her creative life. In high school, she played violin in the orchestra and studied art, dreaming of becoming a portrait artist someday. She married her high school sweetheart only weeks after graduation and started a family. She opened a home-based dressmaker/seamstress business called A Stitch in Time in Clinton, New York, while her daughters were young and in school. To augment her business, she learned millinery and tailoring, but what she loved most was the creative sewing. Customers would come to her with an idea or a beautiful bolt of fabric bought on vacation and together they would create a garment that was theirs alone and fit to a tee.

She took a break from handmade crafts after meeting her future second husband and moving to New York City with him. She went to work as the office manager for his special effects business (EFEX Specialists) in Astoria, New York. Their company created special effects for films and commercials such as The French Connection (1971), The Exorcist (1973), King Kong (1976), The Wiz (1978), and The World According to Garp (1982).

In October 1985, they retired and bought a boat named the Magic Dragon. They lived on the boat for a couple of years as they built their dream home on Pungo Creek in Belhaven, North Carolina. Julie studied stained glass, watercolor painting, and basketmaking, and she later started Belle Port Baskets, traveled to craft shows around the southeastern United States and was accepted into the Southern Highland Craft Guild. Making baskets was her passion! She loved the process of making each one—from one made of white oak she cut down, hand split the splint and hand-carved the handle under the tutelage of the McColley’s of West Virginia to the precise, meticulous Nantucket baskets for which she was known.

After frequent hurricanes in the 1990s, they decided to relocate to higher ground and moved to Traphill, North Carolina, where she continued her basketmaking into her eighties.

To see some of her basketry, visit Julie Ottesen’s artisan page.

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“What Happened to Our School?”

Old Fort mural
Old Fort mural

"What Happened to Our School?"

Recently I happened to receive an invitation to the virtual film release of a documentary on the Old Fort Mural “What Happened to Our School?”. It piqued my interest and I accepted. The premiere night arrived and I clicked in to the event. I met the most amazing people who were responsible for making this vibrant mural happen and bringing a piece of history forward for all of us now to contemplate and understand. The story of Albert Joyner, Sr. and George Sandlin and their effort to fight racial injustice is inspiring. I needed the reminder that personal courage is how change really happens.

The mural project and subsequent documentary film came about as the group says, “because a community member came up with the idea and suggested it, then others got together to discuss how they could make it happen, including organizing folks to work on various aspects and raising money. This is possible for any community, anywhere.”

Through their experience they developed a great guide for developing your own grassroots collaboration. If you would like some guidance regarding how to launch a successful community effort, the ‘Shift Happens Tool Kit’ may be useful a guide for you.

Credits for the documentary go to respected documentarian John P. Kennedy and six-time Emmy winner David Saich. Both are based in Asheville, North Carolina. Mural artist Don Rimx is based in Florida, but travels extensively to create his art. And thank you to musician David LaMotte for hosting the film release and sending the invitation.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to visit Old Fort and see the mural for myself. If you happen to visit the area, I heartily recommend checking it out. It is beautiful!

Old Fort Mural

Old Fort

Build Power Ignite Change
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Why Cindy Long chose as her source for beautiful wood buttons!

Why Cindy Long chose as her source for beautiful wood buttons!

Buttonwood Corp. (aka has been a family business in continuous operation since 1939. Steven and Dennis Hoffman’s dad and two brothers started a small manufacturing firm to create unique wooden apparel trim in NYC’s fabled garment center. Steven and Dennis joined the company in the 1970s and brought fresh ideas like laminated wood, tagua nut (corozo), and bead accessories to an already solid line-up of buttons, toggles, and buckles. Today they work with their lumber mills here in the USA to certify the wood used is plant-friendly. They have implemented the “Cut Two / Plant Three” method of harvesting timber to ensure their supply resource is sustainable and will be available for hundreds of years to come.


To see the scarves that end up being homes for these handcrafted buttons, visit Cindy Long’s artisan page.

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Bring Us Your Best: The Virtual Gallery

handmade shawl
handwoven shawl for Bring Us Your Best in Hendersonville

The Arts Council of Henderson County and local radio station WTZQ have partnered to present a modified version of this annual event right before the holidays. They hope this will allow members of the Arts Council a needed boost in visibility as the holiday shopping begins. Pieces presented represent the artists’ pick as the best piece they have produced this year.

The Henderson County community will vote on their favorite piece through the WTZQ website during the week of December 14-21. The winner will be announced on the radio on December 22 and the winning piece will be featured on the new year postcard for the Arts Council of Henderson County. 

This is a much anticipated event! Artisan Cindy Long has entered this beautiful shawl, titled Calling in the Light. It is 18” x 76” of pure luxury and made of rayon, cotton and linen fibers.

Be sure to take a look and vote for your favorite!

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UPDATED: Upcoming deadlines for COVID-19 relief grants benefitting North Carolina craft artists

Craft artist in studio
Craft artist in studio

UPDATED: Upcoming deadlines for COVID-19 relief grants benefitting North Carolina craft artists

Times being hard for artists is the understatement of the decade! Between sheltering in place and a global recession, artists are struggling to replace lost income. So we thought we’d take one thing off of your plate and research all of the national, state, and local emergency relief grants for artists. Because of unprecedented demand, many grantors have closed their applications. Others are between rounds of funding. But there is still monetary support out there for local artisans!

We have focused here on cash grants currently available to artisans living in North Carolina. Some have deadlines coming up. Some are rolling deadlines. If you know of other grants, please email us. The North Carolina Arts Council also shared this directory of opportunities for artists with us, and they are updating the list weekly.

We gathered this list of grants (in part) by reviewing similar lists compiled by artnet, ARTS North Carolina, and North Carolina Arts CouncilIf you’d like to re-share this list, please credit NC Handmade as a source — as we have done. We are a brand new, local, family-owned North Carolina business that’s dedicated to helping NC artisans to make a living wage in these socially distant times. We appreciate the boost you can give us in search results by linking to this article when you share it.

Thank you 🙂

Funding available to North Carolina individual craft artisans (by county)

All counties

The Adolph & Esther Gottleib Emergency Grant
Rolling 2020 application deadlines (for painters, printmakers, and sculptors only)
Grant amount: $5,000–$15,000

Artists’ Fellowship, Inc.
Rolling 2020 application deadlines (for medical bills only)
No grant amounts have been listed.

Artist Relief
Application deadline: November 18, 2020
Grant amount: $5,000

Arts Leaders of Color Emergency Fund
Rolling 2020 application deadlines (BIPOC artists and arts administrators only)
Grant amount: $200

CERF+ Emergency Assistance
Rolling 2020 application deadlines (for medical expenses only)
Grant amount: $3,000

North Carolina CARES for Art Grants
Application deadline: Varies, with many counties listing a November 9, 2020 deadline
No grant amounts have been listed.

Rauschenberg Medical Emergency Grants
Application deadline: January 5, 2021 (for medical expenses only)
Grant amount: $0–$5,000

Chatham County

CARE: Chatham Artist Relief Effort
Rolling 2020 application deadlines, with decisions made ever Thursday
Grant amount: $50–$250

Durham County

Durham Artist Relief Fund (Northstar Church of the Arts)
Rolling 2020 application deadlines
No grant amounts have been listed.

Durham Arts Council Arts Recovery Fund
Rolling 2020 application deadlines
Grant amount: $0–$500

Madison County

Artist Relief Fund for Madison County
Rolling 2020 application deadlines
Grant amount: $200

Pitt County

Pitt County Arts Relief Fund
Rolling 2020 application deadlines
No grant amounts have been listed.

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This Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we #HonorNativeLand

"Whose Land?" photo by jetsonorama

This Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we #HonorNativeLand

Between 1776 and 1887, the United States seized over 1.5 billion acres from America’s indigenous people by treaty and executive order. And, according to NCPediaNorth Carolina is home to the largest Native American population east of the Mississippi River and the eighth-largest Native American population in the United States. 

In honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we want to share a statement acknowledging the traditional inhabitants of North Carolina — on whose land we conduct our business. As NC Handmade was founded in 2020 by two descendants of white European settlers, we believe it’s our responsibility to offer this acknowledgement — and to start out our new business venture off on the path of reconciliation and by being in right relationship with our Indigenous neighbors.

If you are interested in creating your own land acknowledgement statement, we recommend you check out the US Department of Arts and Culture and the Native Governance Center. Both provided helpful guides that got us started.

And if you would like to support North Carolina Indigenous artisans, check out American Indian Made in North Carolina and Qualla Arts and Crafts

We’re working on building connections with Indigenous artisans to be featured on NC Handmade. If you know of anyone who might be interested, send them a link to our artisan application.

Land acknowledgement statement

Every community owes its existence and vitality to generations from around the world who contributed their hopes, dreams, and energy to making the history that led to this moment. Some were brought here against their will, some were drawn to leave their distant homes in hope of a better life, and some have lived on this land for more generations than can be counted. Truth and acknowledgment are critical to building mutual respect and connection across all barriers of heritage and difference. We begin this effort to acknowledge what has been buried by honoring the truth.

As North Carolinians, we stand on the unceded (ie. stolen) ancestral lands of the following tribes*:

We pay respects to their elders past and present. Please take a moment to consider the many legacies of violence, displacement, migration, and settlement that have brought us to our current moment.

* This list doesn’t include the many North Carolina Indigenous tribes lost to genocide, European disease, and forced relocation.

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Our founding story (an interview between a mother and a son)

Lauren Sinclair and Shokai Sinclair

Our founding story (an interview between a mother and a son)

Shokai Sinclair: What’s your history with craft traditions? What drew you to craft?

Lauren Sinclair: I am a knitter and sewist. I have had an affinity for handmade craft as long as I can remember, learning much in the beginning from my mother and grandmother. I love the intimate sense of history and the appreciation for other cultures you acquire through the experience of craft. There’s a connection between the maker and the user in the practicality of every piece an artisan creates.

SS: What are your ties to North Carolina?

LS: I moved to Eastern North Carolina 30 years ago. 17 years ago I invested in a getaway in Boone, North Carolina. Eight years ago I moved to the High Country full time.

SS: What do you find unique about North Carolina — and about North Carolina crafts?

LS: I admire the spirit, variety, and beauty of every region of North Carolina. From anywhere in North Carolina, you are within a few hours of the ocean, the mountains, quiet rural places, and bustling cities. North Carolinians love to share their knowledge of the history of their craft. There is almost a storytelling quality to it that draws you in and transports you to a different time.

SS: Who or what inspires you?

LS: People who persevere in exploring the possibilities, make mistakes, and learn from them.

SS: What made you decide to create NC Handmade?

LS: Years ago, I saw my mother and many of my friends struggling with how to promote themselves. As a graphic designer working in the printing industry and an entrepreneur who had owned a direct mail yarn business, I wanted to use my skills to help solve their problems. Life’s obstacles got in the way, and the time was never right. Now my son is a technology wizard and a great graphic designer/artist. And we both find ourselves at a perfect time and place to put our skills to work and support the craft artisans we appreciate so highly.

SS: What are you looking for when you select handmade crafts for your website?

LS: Variety! I want to show the wide spectrum of handmade crafts that are available in North Carolina. And quality! There is nothing better than holding a finely crafted piece in your hands.

Lauren Sinclair: How do you see the relationship of craft and technology interacting?

Shokai Sinclair: Craft and technology are both designed experiences. And that means that we have the option to design them with elegance and delight as the primary drivers. Or they can be made to maximize consumption. It’s a given now that most of us are required to have computers and mobile phones to accomplish much of what we do in our day-to-day lives. But I don’t think that that’s reason enough to accept that we’re simply servants to our devices — updating our profiles and buying things. That’s where I think technology can learn a lot from the traditional crafts. Many of the crafts we’ve admired for centuries can accomplish much more (and with much more joy) than your typical app or website, and it’s because of that intense focus on the individual’s use of the craft object. Imagine how cool our lives would be if every piece of technology we touched was created with that level of care and focus.

LS: What is it like to visit your home state of North Carolina online?

SS: I’ve lived away from North Carolina for so many years (in California and now Colorado). But I feel a shared sense of pride whenever I encounter another North Carolinian out in the world. And there’s a kind of feral, self-reliant creativity to artists I meet from the Tar Heel State.

LS: Who or what inspires you?

SS: These days, I find it hard to be inspired by anyone who you all would recognize. I am of course inspired by my family. Beyond that, I am inspired by the planet — and by imagining what life will be like for future generations. I am inspired by the innate organic trait of resilience to preserve the balance of life. For example, I recently learned that our sun has gotten hotter over its billions of years of existence, yet our planet’s temperature has remained relatively constant. Our atmosphere adapted to maintain the perfect temperature to preserve life. There’s a will to survive there. And whether you call it evolution or divine providence, it’s pretty remarkable. Similarly, in the past few years, I’ve experienced devastating wildfires, heat waves, and now a pandemic that have profoundly impacted my life. But I feel like I’m also developing new powers of resilience that I never thought I had.

LS: Why are you passionate about creating this community for artisans?

SS: As someone who has learned a fair amount of marketing and digital technology, it’s sometimes even a struggle for me to keep up with the technical knowledge needed to run an online business. And (COVID or no) in our digital age, it’s becoming increasingly harder to run an offline business without its online counterpart. That makes it difficult for artists, local stores, and guilds to keep up. Some big corporations have capitalized on this paradox. Have you ever spent hours on Etsy trying to find a handmade gift for a friend or loved one? They’re definitely there, but these marketplaces are saturated with mass-produced objects that make it extremely difficult to find anything unique.

LS: What do you see as our role in encouraging and expanding sustainability?

SS: We get messages from all around us to do everything faster and cheaper. Fast food. Fast travel. Fast fashion. And that’s not a side effect of a “connected world.” Our technology is designed that way so that certain key performance indicators can be satisfied. Open that email. Make that comment. Push that button. I believe we can design different experiences that honor the “slow” things that are becoming an increasingly rare commodity.

LS: What opportunities do you see for making the NC Handmade community a vibrant, growing community?

SS: I think we have an excellent opportunity now (while we’re all sheltering-in-place) to learn more about all of the great things that artisans are up to and to adapt the ways that we engage with the arts. There’s been a popular resurgence in self-sufficiency practices (like canning, fermenting, and sourdough) that I think is leading to an increased interest in the traditional crafts that we haven’t seen in 100 years.

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Boone weaver Cindy Long supports local charitable causes with her craft

Boone weaver Cindy Long supports local charitable causes with her craft

Cindy Long / Woven by Design has a long-standing tradition of supporting Valle Country Fair. Of course, this year things will be a little different! She won’t be doing her pre-dawn set up in preparation to greet the thousands of people who usually attend this classic craft show and country fair the third weekend in October. The Valle Country Fair will be virtual this year due to COVID-19. Cindy would like to encourage all supporters of craft to check out their online Fair October 1–17, 2020, and support them in their cause for the 42nd consecutive year!

The Valle Country Fair was founded in 1978 by the members of Holy Cross Episcopal Church to raise funds for community outreach. This tradition continues as 100% of net proceeds go to those in need in our community. The mission of Holy Cross includes a commitment to “share Christ’s love through compassionate ministry.” The 2019 fair channeled $60,000 to High Country organizations which serve people in need. Part of the money is disbursed via grants to area ministries and some is retained to be used for outreach throughout the year to assist individuals and families in crisis. Nonprofit groups in Avery and Watauga counties are invited to apply to receive monies from the fair by contacting the mission and outreach commission of the Church of the Holy Cross.

Also this year, Cindy was one of only twenty artisans invited to participate in the Duke Hospital Holiday Art Invitational Exhibit and Sale.

Since 1978, Arts and Health, now a department within Guest Services of the Duke University Health System, has enriched and supported the healthcare environment by providing quality literary, performing, and visual arts programming to the Duke Health community. We believe that access to the arts is essential for the health and well-being of patients, their loved ones, staff, volunteers, and visitors.

During the holiday season, Arts and Health curates a Holiday Arts and Craft Invitational within the Arts and Health galleries located in the Concourse between Duke Hospital North and the Duke Medicine Pavilion. Bill Gregory, Visual Arts Program Coordinator says, “Our goal for this invitational is to highlight works by talented local and regional craftsmen and artists, and to offer staff, patients, and families an opportunity to enjoy a delightful exhibit and ultimately purchase unique, quality items at relatively affordable prices during the holiday season.”

Be sure to visit and view the exhibit at Mars Galleries at Duke Hospital Hallway and this year there will be additional display cases throughout the hospital and clinics from November 3, 2020, through January 6, 2021.