Carrboro artist James Carter’s triangle triptych


By Laurie Paolicelli

James Carter. Photo by Christopher Martin.

Small Business Spotlight

Artists of all kinds make their home in Orange County. Some work with paper, some work with paint, and some — a very few — work with gold. James Carter, a Triangle resident since 2010, is one of the few. He’s well-known for his goldsmithing and skilled cloisonné design. Cloisonné is an ancient technique for decorating metalwork objects with colored material held in place or separated by metal strips or wire, normally gold.

He’s seen success both as an artist and as an instructor at the James Carter Studio and School of Jewelry Arts in Carrboro, where he creates one-of-a-kind jewelry and most recently, functional sculptural objects.

James Carter Studio, Carr Mill Mall, Carrboro.

His latest opus, a fascinating triptych, tells the story of the local world we live in. Three distinct candleholders, each an embodiment of different part of the Triangle — Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill — reflect Carter’s reverence for our region’s heritage and his steadfast commitment to craftsmanship.

James Carter’s Candleholders.

The Raleigh candleholder is 12 inches high and pays homage to Raleigh’s ascension to becoming the capital of North Carolina in 1792. Fashioned from metal and cast in sterling silver, the candlestick showcases this historic moment through an intricately carved design. Drawing inspiration from the local landscape, it incorporates oak limbs from the North Carolina Museum of Art, transformed into silver casts, along with acorns filled with pearls, because Raleigh is known as the “City of Oaks.” The candleholder is also adorned with a cloisonne band, featuring a Wolfpack motif and architectural arches, capturing the essence of Raleigh’s splendor and its abundant natural beauty.

The Durham candleholder, also standing at 12 inches, celebrates the city’s industrial heritage. Crafted with cloisonne embellishments, it features the iconic Lucky Strike tower, a nod to Durham’s tobacco legacy. Amidst a backdrop of silver, rings symbolizing smoke rise, while a beautifully designed musical note is a nod to the city’s thriving cultural revival.

The Chapel Hill candleholder stands at a height of 15 inches. It embodies the elegance of the University’s Old Well: the year of the university’s founding – 1793 – is displayed on its silver base. The wellhead features a cloisonné design that beautifully embodies the campus’s canopy of trees, capturing the essence of Chapel Hill’s scholarly spirit and grace.

Carter is a dedicated traditionalist, valuing the integrity of what can be made by hand; digital efficiency is secondary. Art serves Carter as a channel for self-reflection and a means to honor experiences, both personal and historical, that have resonated with us over the years.

In the hands of artists like James Carter, the essence of the North Carolina Triangle finds unique expression. Serious art collectors seeking pieces that transcend mere representation will find themselves drawn to James Carter’s triptych. Each candleholder is both a work of art and a narrative woven from the fabric of the North Carolina Triangle’s history and identity. They are not to be missed.

“My family and I chose Carrboro because it has great appeal as an artist town, with overflowing energy and diversity,” Carter says. “We were lucky enough to find a perfect location in Carr Mill Mall, a renovated mid-19th century cotton mill with soaring windows and lots of character.”

James with his wife Diane Carter.

Next time you’re in Carrboro, visit James Carter Studio. Parking passes are provided; metalwork and cloisonné on proud display.

Phone: 919-475-5928

Laurie Paolicelli is executive director for the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau, a position she has held since 2005. Laurie has worked in tourism and marketing for twenty-five years, having served in leadership roles in Houston and California convention and visitor bureaus. She is a native of the Twin Ports of Duluth, MN/Superior Wisconsin. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business and Communications from the University Wisconsin-Superior and graduate certification in Technology In Marketing from the UNC-Chapel Hill’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media.

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