Crissy Haslam promotes craft week in TN – Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam got to enjoy some East Tennessee craft mastery Friday, and even take part in the creation of some of it herself.

Haslam, who is serving as honorary chairwoman of Tennessee Craft Week, visited with crafts people at Dollywood, which was holding its National Southern Gospel and Harvest Celebration. She watched as Dollywood glassblower Joe Deanda heated a glass blob in his kiln and brought it to the point at which she would supply the air to help it expand to become a Christmas ornament.

Haslam held the mouthpiece of a hose that ran air through the mandrel holding the glass. She said later it was not easy to judge how much pressure to exert, but Deanda used tools to shape the glass orb as it took its form. At last, the multicolored ornament was done. Haslam chuckled.

“I had so much to do with this,” she joked to onlookers.

Haslam also visited with Jenni Kelly, a Rockwood pottery maker who had set up for her first year of the festival. Through a craft organization, Kelly had made six centerpieces for Haslam. They will join other pieces that Haslam has collected from across the state to be displayed at the governor’s mansion during December as part of the fifth annual Tennessee’s Home for the Holidays open house.

Haslam also visited with Signal Mountain glass artist Susan Parry, who has produced an ornament that has been displayed on the national Christmas tree at the White House.

Dollywood spokesman Wes Ramey said the craft celebration has been taking place for years, going back to the pre-Dollywood days when the Pigeon Forge theme park was Silver Dollar City.

The event this year includes 20 master crafts people from across Tennessee working at 13 locations throughout the park, Ramey said. They are joined by 40 visiting crafts people from around the country.

Also this year, the craft festival is being held in conjunction with the National Southern Gospel celebration, which has been drawing bus loads of visitors from across the country.

“There have been about 350 concerts taking place in the park,” Ramey said.

The event runs through Oct. 31.