Laughter filled the room and glitter flew as ornaments were decorated


Mars Hill, NC December 15, 2022Christmas came early this year for the Appalachian Ranger District on the Pisgah National Forest. The district is lucky to have one of the most significant concentrations of artists in the nation who were excited to volunteer their time and work to provide ornaments to adorn the 2022 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree and other trees that will be showcased this holiday season in Washington, DC.

I am honored to have my birds displayed in Washington D.C. for the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree and to help represent western North Carolina natural heritage,” said Louise Grenell from Shuttle Hook and Needle. The cardinal and goldfinch Grenell created and donated are pictured above.

The artists that donated from the Toe River Arts Council include Tori Motyl, Pete and Kim McWhirter, Dori Settles, Bridget Fox, Louise Grenell, JoAnn Laskin, Judson Guerard, Morgan Hoover, Victoria Stroup, Kenny Pieper, and Jean McLaughlin. 

At the Stroup Hobby Shop, Luther Stroup, whose family has been making clocks since 1949, has a clock in all 50 states. The shop uses local Appalachian wood like wormy chestnut, poplar, and more. Every artist has a unique history with deep roots in Western North Carolina.

At the Hive, a Penland School of Craft satellite location, Stacey Lane runs after-school programs for the community. This summer, kids made ceramic and origami Christmas ornaments with the help of volunteers like Spencer Silva. At the end of the summer, Smokey Bear made an appearance at the Hive to bring awareness to wildfire prevention and play air hockey with the kids.

The Center for Pioneer Life in Burnsville, NC, created ornaments like snowflakes and brooms rich with Appalachian history reflecting the homestead environment of early American pioneer life. Scandinavian Stars or Carolina Snowflakes are a Swedish and Appalachian holiday staple. The snowflakes created for the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree were made by soaking, weaving, and gluing twelve reed pieces together in a pattern. One hundred fifty ornaments were made in a two-day event.  

The brooms are working miniature replicas of the Appalachian pioneers’ brooms made from tampico and twine. They are made by hand in the same manner as those in the 1850’s. Adapted from the besom broom and redesigned from a bird’s wing to use in and around their cabins and homestead, three styles of hand brooms were predominately used: the hawk tail, rooster tail, and turkey wing.

Staff from the Appalachian Ranger District also participated in events like Blue Ridge Pride, working to create other ornaments. An event was hosted in a Revolve Gallery showcasing “This Skin I’m In” Exhibit. Laughter filled the room and glitter flew as ornaments were decorated. Overall, the Appalachian Ranger District collected over 600 ornaments, thanks to community participation. 

Scroll to Top