Immersed in artWritten by Bibeka Shrestha
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Spiral Creek stands as a contrast to the everyday.
Away from jarring news reports and routine responsibilities, the Bryson City artists’ sanctuary allows guests to work with only art in mind.
During the day, students take arts and crafts classes from seasoned artists in an intimate studio bathed in light. All meals are taken care of and going to bed only requires a walk upstairs to one of three cozy bedrooms.
“It’s peaceful, but it’s kind of exciting when you’re in a group of people being creative,” said co-owner Dee Dee Triplett. “It seems like the air is different.”
A certain camaraderie tends to spring up around the dinner table each night among a newfound community of like-minded friends, says Triplett, who founded the new studio along with her husband Robert.
Part of the appeal of staying where you create is there’s no long drive back home from class at faraway schools. Guests also enjoy total freedom from chores.
“You don’t have to cook, you don’t have to make your bed,” said Triplett. “It’s just a total separation.”
Dee Dee Triplett has taught craft classes, including doll making and embroidery, at the John C. Campbell Folk School for 22 years already. Meanwhile, Robert taught coppersmithing and metal work also at the Folk School.
In 2004, The Tripletts decided to build their own small-scale retreat for artists from scratch. Spiral Creek would allow a small group of artists to be wholly immersed in art for days on end.
“The news that bombards us every day is scary if you listen to too much of it,” said Triplett. “When you can get away and do something that feeds your soul, it helps you cope with all of what’s going on. You’re doing something positive.”
Bringing the studio to fruition involved a long journey through actual construction and countless inspections. Dee Dee painted the entire interior of the two-story building and had to pick out all new furniture before Spiral Creek could open its doors.
“It seemed like a mountain to climb at first,” said Triplett. “Everything you did added three more things to your to-do list.”
Now, each room is fully outfitted with two twin beds, down comforters, ceiling fans, individual heating and air conditioning units, and a private bathroom.
“We tried to make it really comfortable,” said Triplett.
Spiral Creek will host about ten classes each year, mostly in the spring and fall. Future workshops will include quilting, papermaking, felt making, light metal and painting.
The studio celebrated its debut this summer with a doll making class taught by two prestigious Dutch artists, Marlaine Verhelst and Ankie Daanen. Students learned to hand-sculpt dolls from air-drying stone clay, paint details with watercolor and even clothe the dolls in handmade outfits.
The Tripletts were expecting six people to show up but were met with 13 eager students. Publicity through the National Institute of American Doll Artists brought artists from as far away as Mississippi, Florida and Virginia.
All 13 hopefuls were accepted into the class, though some had to find accommodations elsewhere.
Triplett said that classes at the remote Spiral Creek will welcome beginners and professionals alike.
“A lot of people don’t think they are creative and they are,” said Triplett. “They just have to be allowed to create. You can show people how to begin and then their natural creativity can come out.”