Episode 10

Finding Your Calling with Viola Spells

Published on: 9th May, 2022

Most artists know their calling from a young age and enter into the creative world in early adulthood with little to no savings. This was not the case with one of the legends of the art world, Viola Spells. Viola was working as a librarian and investing in properties when she attended her daughter's parent evening where she fell in love with the idea of creating jewelry. Join us today as we hear how she was forced to put her passion on the backburner while trying to raise a family, and how she moved into the creative world full-time in her 60s! As an African American woman in the segregated South, Viola's experiences growing up in the 1950s shaped who she is today. She has returned to her childhood home of Asheville where she runs her Pink Dog Studio, and we hear all about her creative process, where she learned to make jewelry, and her advice to young artists. For all this, and so much more, tune in today!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Why the team is so inspired by Viola and her road to success!
  • What Viola wants people to know about her work: the lightness and the tactility. 
  • Viola’s family history and what she learned from her parents and her grandparents.
  • How growing up in Asheville in the 1950s influenced Viola’s network and perceptions about race and society. 
  • Viola’s experience as a librarian, and moving from a small town to a big city. 
  • Why art took a back seat when Viola was working as a librarian. 
  • Viola’s lightbulb moment: when she realized making jewelry was her calling. 
  • How Viola became interested in the concept of the line.
  • The difference between knitting and crocheting, and how practice made perfect. 
  • Viola's process: inspirational vs sketching, and her color palette. 
  • Teaching kids to make art and how Viola brings out their artistic side. 
  • Her work schedule, from night owl to preparing for success!
  • The Chitchat fashion show, and approaching a fashion event with an open (or a librarian’s) mind. 
  • Viola’s experience coming back home to Asheville, and making her move into entrepreneurship with Pink Dog. 
  • The advice she would give to other artists: you have to have plans in place and manage both time and money. 
  • The changes in the "Segregated South" from the 1950s to the present day, and how Viola coped with these. 
  • What the artistic community is like in Asheville, and how it’s still segregated. 
  • Viola's suggestions for young Black artists to break into the community and build a platform. 
  • Where you can find out more about Viola Spells’ work!

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Viola Spells on LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/in/viola-spells

Zenobia Studio on Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/zenobiastudio

Pink Dog Creative — https://www.pinkdog-creative.com/

Textile Techniques in Metal: For Jewelers, Textile Artists & Sculptors https://www.amazon.com/Textile-Techniques-Metal-Jewelers-Sculptors

Grind — https://grindavl.club/

Marquee — https://marqueeasheville.com/

Scott “Sourdough” Power — https://www.notarealartist.com/

Louise Glickman — https://www.louiseglickman.com/

Daryl Slaton — http://www.tailsofwhimsy.com/

Crewest Studio — https://creweststudio.com/

Sand Hill Artists Collective (SHAC) — https://sandhillartists.com/

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About the Podcast

Welcome to the Artsville podcast where we celebrate contemporary American Arts & Crafts from Asheville NC and beyond. The Artsville podcast has it all: Painting, Pottery, Weaving, Woodworking, Welding, Glass Blowing and more. Just like Asheville, NC, Artsville is a friendly podcast where good folks like you can discover world class artisans, artists, craftsman and makers who use their hands and natural materials like fiber, clay, metal, glass, paper and wood to create stunning original arts and crafts.