Floyd Artisan Trail Tour

Jun 12, 2014

Part of the beauty of finely crafted objects is seeing where they’re made and meeting the people who make them. More than fifty artisans, galleries, farms and shops, all over Floyd County will open their doors, give demonstrations, and discuss their work this weekend.  It’s the fourth Annual Floyd Artisan Trail Tour and you’re invited.

Pat Sharkey is coordinating this weekend’s Floyd Artisan Trail, a self tour of the area that highlights what’s so captivating about this rural mecca for music, art, and personality.  

"I think a lot of people feel like Floyd is a special place and I think it’s people’s relationships to each other, to their sense of creativity, and to the land.”

There’s a lot of people here that are visionaries, in all the different ways, in music and the arts, in agriculture and independent people that like to create projects.”

“This is an old skating rink that we refurbished and turned into a wood working shop about 12, 13 years ago.  It’s a wonderful place to make furniture it’s got a wood floor and a big open space," says Bill Graefe, who along with his wife Corinne founded Phoenix Hardwoods on Floyd Highway out of a love for each other and the passion they shared for woodworking.

“I was the first girl in my shop class 40 years ago when girls were not in shop class and had to fight. So I would love to see more girls getting excited about wood and wanting to learn how to do woodworking.”

Two of their five children have worked here, one daughter and one son. Now their employees are young men who say they have found their calling here.

“I grew up working around wood with Bill all my life and it’s turned into a full time job for me and a career," says shop foreman Abe Gorski. “It’s very fulfilling. I like to have my hands on the material, it’s something that, you feel like you’ve accomplished something at the end of the day and you can see something materialize from a pile of lumber so it’s very satisfying.”

The finely finished tables, desks, and other pieces are rustic and contemporary, interesting and authentic, like Floyd itself.

“We have all local hardwoods from surrounding counties and some of these slabs are just so spectacular and that’s the most fun for is getting to open up trees and the first that you see what’s inside.  We use trees that nobody really wants that would be firewood., so that’s really satisfying to be able to do that."

And isn’t that the artisan’s gift; seeing beauty where others may have missed it and working it up into something amazing. Corinne Graefe says she’s not much of a businessperson, but that has not gotten in the way of success here

“This is my business plan-- you make friends with everybody.  So if I’m making friends with people, then I enjoy what I’m doing. If I had to look at it like making a profit that would just be no fun and it’s worked."

And that too is a hallmark of the Floyd Artisan Trail – part of the 'Round the Mountain state initiative to support artisan and agritourism across rural south western Virginia.  

“You can always come down to Floyd and go to galleries and shops and look at work but people that work with their hands, both handcraft and art as well as agriculture and farmers ---to get to know them, to see how they work; so that’s the intention, as well as, to allow folks to get out of downtown.  There’s a lot of sites downtown participating but this is especially for folks that want to meander in the rural back roads and find some of the sites."

Sharkey has put together a trail map that lists each of the 51 sites.

"We strongly recommend you do not us GPS. We’ve done really well with signage and cell phones do work out here now."

And there is a number to call if you should get lost.  This being Floyd, you could also ask anyone you see and they’ll help guide you.  That’s because they know what they have here, and they know each other, and that’s something any community would be proud of.