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Setting the Table

A 2019 gift from the Sir Walter Cabinet led to the creation of a new, handcrafted welcome table at the NC State Crafts Center.

A group of people behind a hand-carved wooden table, positioned in the center of the Crafts Center lobby

The NC State Crafts Center is home to exquisite pottery, fine jewelry and beautiful stained glass creations. It’s also the home of a brand new, hand-crafted wooden table that will greet students as they enter the center this fall.

The nonprofit Sir Walter Cabinet funded the project as part of a larger gift that, in addition to support for the Crafts Center, included funding for the Student Emergency Fund in 2019. The welcome table was designed and built by former Crafts Center wood studio manager John Metzler and wood studio volunteer Rich Gautreaux. The table was built using Guanacaste wood.

“The Crafts Center is very grateful for this generous donation from the Sir Walter Cabinet,” said Carol Fountain Nix, director of the Crafts Center. “When you are the Crafts Center, not just any old table will do. This generous donation from the Sir Walter Cabinet allowed us to design and craft a gorgeous, live-edge welcome table for our lobby. It is the centerpiece of our main area where students and members love to gather. We’re most grateful to the Sir Walter Cabinet.”

The Sir Walter Cabinet is a longtime, influential statewide organization with close ties to the General Assembly. Membership in the Sir Walter Cabinet is open to spouses of leading members of the three branches of North Carolina government — including the General Assembly, the governor and lieutenant governor, Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeals judges, Council of State, Cabinet secretaries and director of the Administrative Office of the Courts — and the presidents of the University of North Carolina and the North Carolina Community College systems.

Two people celebrate with a high five next to the wooden table in the Crafts Center lobby
Carol Nix and Anne Arp celebrate with a high five

The organization aims to contribute to North Carolina and its citizens’ general welfare by promoting interest in related social, legislative, economic and historical causes. Every two years, as one of several traditions, the currently 300-member cabinet makes a monetary contribution to a state-affiliated organization; a committee of past presidents and the current president choose the recipient. In addition to the Crafts Center, the Sir Walter Cabinet’s gifts have gone toward projects at organizations such as the North Carolina Museum of Art, the North Carolina Museum of History, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the North Carolina Symphony, the State Capitol and Tryon Palace. The group made a previous gift to the Gregg Museum.

“For more than a century, the Sir Walter Cabinet has contributed to the betterment of the state of North Carolina and its citizens,” said Kevin Howell, NC State’s vice chancellor for external affairs, partnerships and economic development. “We greatly appreciate the investment made in our Crafts Center, which serves NC State students and the greater community with opportunities to foster creativity and build artistic capabilities.” 

Earlier this summer, Howell and Anne Arp, past president of the Sir Walter Cabinet, got to see the finished product at the Crafts Center.

“We are so excited for the completion of the welcome table,” Arp said. “To see the beautiful craftsmanship is awe-inspiring and highlights our priority of celebrating and supporting the many gifts and talents of our fellow North Carolinians while welcoming the community to come together.

“Being one of the earliest support groups in North Carolina, our cabinet has been referred to as the original friend to the Department of Cultural Resources, and our first president’s favorite avocation was collecting friendships,” Arp continued. Partnering with the Crafts Center to provide a table that will welcome all to a space where both talents and friendships can blossom is a wonderful opportunity for which we are grateful.”

The Crafts Center has been part of NC State since 1954 and teaches classes in wood, pottery, glass, fiber arts, mixed media and more. The center is used not only by students, faculty, staff and alumni but also the general public.

Learn more about the NC State Crafts Center and all it has to offer at