Betsy Brey grew up on a 400-acre dairy farm in Wisconsin and traveled extensively before she moved to Wilkes County in 1978. There she was inspired by the prolific, diverse, and immediately accessible natural resources in her surroundings to focus on the craft of traditional Southern Appalachian mountain basketry. She pursued this craft for 30 years before shifting her focus to bark peeling in 2010. Today, she utilizes her skills in basketry and bark peeling to create unique baskets, containers, and art.
In her work, Betsy seeks to restore the human touch to our material lives. To do this, she handcrafts her work using an array of native natural materials all collected, as the seasons allow, exclusively from the 25 acres on which she lives. Some of her main materials include yellow poplar, cedar, hickory, white oak, hemlock, and reed.
In addition to bark and basketry, Brey also makes soap and teaches classes on soap making.