This Artist Retreat is the Best Kept Secret
You are now leaving the real world.
Wild Acres NC is atop a mountain, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. I have been lucky enough to attend Lapidary art workshops here for many years. It has been called “Summer Camp for Grownups”. Imagine pursuing your artistic passion for a week without the worry of cooking, cleaning or other everyday worries.
I recently took a class on etching designs onto metal jewelry using salt water and an electric current. I’ll tell you more about that later. Other classes offered that week were chain making, beginner metalsmithing, enameling, and Intarsia (mosaic-like stone setting). This is where I first learned to wire wrap jewelry.
This land has an ironic history. It was once owned by Thomas Dixon, Jr., the racist author of books such as The Clansman and Birth of a Nation. He earned a fortune from the sale of these books and subsequent movies. Along came the depression and Dixon lost everything. Years later I.D. Blumenthal was the sole bidder on the property, which had bounced from bank to bank. No one knew what it looked like, including the bank rep, who traveled from Austin Texas to see it. He deemed it “God forsaken” when the fog set in just as he arrived and after travelling very curvy roads.
Blumenthal’s very low bid was accepted, and he saw this miracle as a sign from God that it should be used for good. Today Wildacres is a retreat for artists and groups who are committed to the brotherhood of all people.
The classes that I attend are sponsored by the Southeastern Federation of Mineralogical Societies. Other groups who use the campus include potters, musicians, storytellers, scientists and religious groups. For many years the Ringling College of Art and Design held their summer residency program there.
Wildacres is closed during the winter months, but if you are interested in attending a lapidary session, check the SFMS website. Schedules are usually posted in early spring. Next I will share the process of Electro Metal Etching with you.