Downtown fiber shop embraces community, art

Wil Petty Staff Writer

September 25, 2013

A new fiber shop and studio has come to West Jefferson’s vibrant downtown area.

Jay and Jean Davies decided to open up Fiber Artisan’s Studio because they noticed there were more art galleries and stores moving into the county, but none that focused on the fiber.

“We liked the idea (of opening a store) and the town is very much a small arts community,” Jay said. “It seemed that if we were in the arts side of things, we would fit in. You saw paintings, sculptures and pottery. Fiber was a missing piece.”

The store is located on Jefferson Avenue, at the old location of Angel’s Touch.

Jay and Jean first came to West Jefferson from Raleigh when friends had moved into the area. Upon visiting, the Davies family fell in love with the town and decided to move.

“We like the mountains and we like Ashe County,” Jay said. “We got a place we liked a lot and could afford. We came without any intention of opening a shop.”

That quickly changed. With Jean being a fiber artist and the encouragement of friends, the idea of a store was too tempting.

“We decided we would explore (the idea) and look for a location,” Jay said. “We did a couple of trips without success in finding a place, but then this place popped up. It was originally designed for a delicatessen, so we have sinks and a kitchen area in the back which serves as our studio.”

Fiber is primarily used for clothing. Usually people spin, knit or weave the material.

Upon getting the fiber, the first things to do is clean up the material and comb it out, which makes the fiber smooth.

“We usually get cotton or sheep’s wool,” Jay said. “Up here there are quite a bit of alpaca so we have the alpaca fleece.”

The store offers many finished products, including scarves, hats, silk fabric and Japanese kimonos.

“The things we have are items you don’t find readily most places,” Jay said. “Even when you are in the big city, you still have to go out of your way to find what we have here.”

The store also provides materials so those who want to make crafts can do so, providing a location that doesn’t require artisans leaving the county. A store providing yarn and fabric hasn’t been in Ashe County for a few years, which has added to the stores warm reception.

“We do carry fabric for the quilters,” Jean said. “We’re also going to have weaving classes. We have somebody who can teach that.”

As the winter approaches, the store hours will be limited, but there will be classes and days the store is open.

“We will probably be open three days a week,” Jean said. “There just isn’t enough traffic here in the winter months.”