By Savannah Koval
Just in time for the holidays, Craft in Toyland will open at the Grovewood Gallery on Saturday, November 18, with a reception from 2–5 p.m., and will remain on display through December 31. This group exhibition will showcase American made, handcrafted toys and games. Also on display will be a collection of antique wooden toys on loan from Tryon resident Rick Dunn.
Craft in Toyland will feature works by ten artists and craftspeople from across the country, including local makers Paul Frehe, Greg Krolick, Sarah Owen and Alicia Williams of Heartwood Rocking Horses. This exhibit will also showcase works by Julia Calhoun, Elizabeth Swing of Emergolde, Joe Godfrey, Delilah Iris, Lumpy Buttons and Wolfum. All handcrafted toys and games, with the exception of Dunn’s collection of antique toys, will be available for sale.
For about 20 years, Dunn has been collecting wooden toys made by the Tryon Toy Makers and Wood Carvers, a toy and fine craft company established in 1915 by Eleanor Vance and Charlotte Yale. Today, Julia Calhoun, one of the featured artists in Craft in Toyland, is working to keep the Tryon Toy Makers and Wood Carvers’ artisan legacy alive. She is the fourth individual owner of the business and has recently begun reinvigorating the enterprise with the production of some of the earliest toys designed by Vance and Yale.
Calhoun will be showcasing a reproduction of a wooden circus set, an early item in the company’s history that is extremely rare. “The only one we know of is in the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh,” Calhoun says. “A second one was located a few years ago in Boston, but sold before our local collector could get to it.”
Elizabeth Swing of Emergolde creates handmade, eco-friendly soft toys for kids using organic, recycled and hand-dyed fabrics. Her dolls and stuffed animals are sewn using a combination of machine, hand and embroidery sewing. Swing was first inspired by her grandmother who taught her how to sew at age six. When Swing was a nanny, she would create unique toys for the children while they were sleeping. “I got the idea for the world of Emergolde after a solo camping trip in the woods,” says Swing. “After I saw the gold color of the sunlight breaking through the emerald green tones of the trees, I became inspired with the name.”
The Grovewood Gallery is located at 111 Grovewood Road, adjacent to and below the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free parking is available onsite. To learn more, visit grovewood.com or call 828.253.7651.