ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — With a move from the South Slope to the River Arts District, the non-profit Local Cloth has a new sense of belonging.
“We moved from an area where we were a rose among thorns,” Chairman Judi Jetson said with a laugh. “We were the artists in the brewery district, and now, here we are with all our fellow artists, and it’s fabulous.”
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The 3,000 square foot open space at 408 Depot Street, with natural light pouring in, is the new home for the group, founded in 2012 to support the local textile economy.
Local Cloth helps connect fiber artists with fiber farmers in Western North Carolina, Upstate South Carolina and East Tennessee.
“We found there are over 500 fiber artists in the Greater Asheville Area – that’s 100 miles around Asheville,” Jetson said. That same area has nearly 200 fiber farms raising an average of 25 animals, such as alpacas, sheep, goats and angora rabbits.
The group has 240 members, of which 85 are farmers.
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“We think of the little bit of spinning or weaving and needle felting, but all of those things really help our economy grow,” said fiber artist Beth Sellars. “But, more importantly, all of us as farmers and artists in this area to grow and just enjoy fellowship and get ideas from each other.”
The Depot Street location is about five times the size of Local Cloth’s old home on Coxe Avenue, and with that, it gains retail and classroom space, and the opportunity for up to six artists to work side-by-side. “I’m so excited that we’ll get to gather together in a safe and comfortable space where we can all collaborate,” said Nica Rabinowitz, an artist who specializes in developing and using natural dyes in her work.
Local Cloth will hold an open house on Saturday, June 12, from 10 am to 4 pm in the new studio.
And neighboring artists are excited about the newest shop along Depot Street, said Jetson. “They’ve come by and said, ’Hello and thanks for coming. We’re so glad to have a textile center here in our midst.’”