Category Archives: Modern Craft

Charles Counts | 1934-2000

Every now and then I like to review the work of craftsmen Charles Counts and search for more information about him. Having seen a retrospective show of his work I have been a big fan since. Pinterest has allowed me to start gathering more images of his work. In launching his new board I thought it appropriate to re-share information on his work. Enjoy! Troy

“Art is a disease.  There is no cure for it.”

Bottle and Cups (1957)

This quote sums up the life of Charles counts.  Art “infected” Charles as a school boy in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and became his way of life.  He was the epitome of the Renaissance man, practicing various desciplines such as quilting, weaving, rug hooking, drawing, painting, philosophy, poetry and intellectual thinking.  However, he became most well-known for his pottery and teaching.  Counts worked hard to be a part of the Appallacian heritage of craftsmen who made objects by hand.

Hear Here Words (1984)

Charles Counts studied at various places including Berea College and Southern Illinois University at Carondale where he acquired an MFA in Ceramics and Weaving.  Charles apprenticed for Marguerite Wildenhain, a professor who studied at the Bauhaus School of Design in Germany.  It was under her tutelage, Counts learned that art and craft are really two halves to a whole, that craft is the origination of any art from, and functionality of the object and simple design are the goal of any true artist.   Counts also learned that an artist must master the fundamental elements of shape and form before being creative and that there is a spiritual connection between an artist and nature.

Growth Quilt (1977) – Rug (1984) – Quilt (1965)

After training Counts moved back to Tennessee to open his first studio near Knoxville between 1958 and 1962.  Counts found inspiration and strength in the flora and fauna of the natural world.  Repeated natural motifs in his work such as trees, mountains and the sun reflect his belief of something spiritual in nature and in all things that grow.

Space and Time (1984)

Since 1956, Charles counts was a member and avid supporter of the Southern Highland Craft Guild whose mission it is to keep alive the Appalachian tradition of making traditional and contemporary arts and crafts by hand.  His legacy resides in the hundreds of students he taught and influenced.  The admiration he felt when he first saw the hand work of the mountain potters of Kentucky, Georgia and North Carolina continued to propel him through life, challenging him always to make a better pot than the last one.

Footed Covered Jar (1976) – Jar (1976) – Who Am I, Who Am Eye (1984)

Information on Charles Counts courtesy of Southern Highland Craft Guild

Modern Craft | Matthew Smith Jewelry

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKelly and I visited with local jewelry artist Matt Smith this past week. We’ve been ogling his hand-crafted bangles online for several months and we were eager to see it first hand. Matt lives in the Mountainbrook neighborhood of Asheville along with his wife, Gwynne Rukenbrod, and sweetly nested with a pair of adorable dogs and cats. Mountainbrook is a relaxed mid-century, ranch neighborhood tucked away in nearby Chunns Cove. Matt has created a shop in the lower portion of their split-level, ranch where he skillfully crafts his inventory.Matt Comp 01

Matthew Smith began his creative career as a freelance graphic designer. Through his years in this field, he developed what he terms a “visually concise” design language. He also maintained a long running hobby as a woodworker and furniture maker. When a move to a new city required a dramatic downsizing of his studio, Smith began to focus on jewelry as a compact way to merge his diverse interests. He found inspiration from the jewelry designers of the mid-20th century who’s work emphasized strong design and alternative materials, over precious metals and gems.

I create modern jewelry that merges my graphic design and furniture making backgrounds, with my interest in mid-20th century design.”

Comp 02

Smith’s pieces begin as a graphic element which is worked and re-worked to develop the most concise expression of the concept. {You know I like that!} Design elements such as line weight, color, and pattern are translated into silver thickness, resin tint, and wood grain. Recently Smith has begun working with a new non-toxic plant-based casting resin, which he tints with non-toxic painter’s pigments.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhere does one find his work? Locally, it is showcased at Woolworth Walk and Mora Designer Jewelry. Come and personally meet him and Gwynne at our next Modern Mixer or find out more at





Center for Craft, Creativity and Design

I seem to be circling downtown lately in effort to get from one place to another and don’t stop to enjoy some of the new things. I had the opportunity to meet a friend at the Creperie Bouchon late yesterday afternoon. {first time there – yum!} I purposely left early to stop by the new Center for Craft, Creativity and Design. It is very exciting to have this organization here and CC CompI’m looking find ways for Modern Asheville to get involved. It is right across from my other favorite place the Black Mountain College Museum. We are so lucky to have both downtown. I encourage you to take time for a visit.