Traditional crafts are part of the lifeblood of the Southern Appalachians, and in Gatlinburg—the Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains—they’re fully on display alongside some fabulous modern artwork.
Just a stone’s throw from downtown Gatlinburg, the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community encompasses more than 100 shops and galleries featuring local artists and craftspeople—it’s said to be the biggest such group of independent artisans on the continent. Driving the eight-mile loop through this creative cluster via the East Parkway, Glades Road, and Buckhorn Road—or taking the Yellow trolley route from town—offers a fantastic glimpse of these talented folks at work. It’s also, needless to say, a great place to nab some truly one-of-a-kind Smoky Mountain souvenirs!
Here are about a dozen or so representative stops along the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community loop:
Firefly Glass Studio (830 Moyer Dr)
This studio shows off the lovely contemporary fused glass art of Nancy Huff. Besides admiring and shopping among her pieces, you can design your own keepsake piece of glasswork via Firefly Glass Studio’s “You Create” experience.
The Chair Shop (830 Cantrell Cir)
This family-run woodshop has been around since 1956, and its beautiful furniture and housewares feature native hardwoods expertly turned and finished. It’s not just chairs at the Chair Shop, by the way, but also tables, benches, desks, cabinets, cupboards, and more. You can also commission a custom job of just about any sort, and take one of the regularly offered woodworking classes.
Mountain Stitches by Susan (601 Glades Road)
Check out some superb quilts and stock up on quilting fabric, patterns, and supplies at this warm and welcoming shop.
Woodland Tiles (220 Buckhorn Road)
The clay tiles on offer here draw inspiration from the natural world—wonderfully on display in the unique leaf-shape tiles for sale. These are great, hand-crafted options for backsplashes, mantles, tabletops, and other tiling projects back home.
Smoky Mountain Dulcimers (601 Glades Road, #27)
Few instruments evoke the spirit and soul of Appalachian music as a dulcimer, which of course also claims a rich heritage across the pond. At Smoky Mountain Dulcimers, you can admire the Mountain Lap Dulcimers and Hammer Dulcimers created by master luthier Mark Edelman, who also sells his CDs as well as instruction books and other music-making materials here. Besides being part of the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community, an active performing musician, and a performing artist, Edelman is an instructor at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina.
Licklog Hollow Baskets (1360 E. Parkway)
Marvel at the dexterity and artistry of time-tested traditional basketry techniques at Licklog Hollow Baskets, where you can shop for hand-woven baskets and also watch the basket-making process in action.
The Wood Whittlers (1402 E. Parkway)
Showcasing the talents of fourth- and fifth-generation woodworkers and carvers, the Wood Whittlers is the oldest continuously running craft studio in Gatlinburg, having been established by Shirl Compton back in 1944.
Lorelei Candles (331 Glades Road)
Since 1979, this shop has been selling handmade candles of a variety of styles. You can also watch candle-making going down—a fascinating craft!
Ogle’s Broom Shop (670 Glades Road)
David and Tammie Ogle run this broom-making shop, where besides hand-made brooms you can shop for finely carved canes, hiking staffs, and other wood-worked products.
Fowler’s Clay Works (1402 E. Parkway, Suite 10)
Mike and Cheryl Fowler as well as their daughter Ava run this clay studio, where you can buy handmade pottery and also take a seat behind the potter’s wheel for some hands-on instruction.
Smoky Mountain Leather (1402 E. Parkway, Suite 5)
A whole galaxy’s worth of leather products are on display at Smoky Mountain Leather, from belts, wallets, and pursues ot sheaths and holsters. Other hand-crafted creations for sale here include cedar-chest incense burners, rugs, and old-fashioned toys.
Cliff Dwellers Gallery (668 Glades Road)
This long-running gallery, situated in a historic building moved here from downtown Gatlinburg, includes a bevy of artwork and crafts, including watercolor paintings, pottery, handmade clothing, tapestries, and glasswork. You can also see artists at work here each day of the week.
Alewine Pottery (623 Glades Road)
Potter Robert Alewine established this studio more than three decades ago, and it’s now a multigenerational family enterprise. You’ll love the masterfully hand-thrown pottery for sale here, plus watching the clay-handling techniques.
Shop for Singular Products, Watch Masters at Work, & Learn Some New Skills on Gatlinburg’s Arts & Crafts Trail
The Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community dates back to the late 1930s, and over many decades it’s become one of the most popular and rewarding cultural experiences Gatlinburg has to offer. Take an arts-and-crafts safari in the foothills of the Great Smokies and watch some marvelous makers in action!