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Woman’s perseverance sees dream of Appalachian Trail artist retreat space become reality


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    Hot Springs, North Carolina (WLOS) — There is a special place nestled in the mountains south of Hot Springs where artists can come together to create.

It is an ever-evolving space that began as a small log cabin on some farmland off Highway 209. The place is Azule, and the woman whose dream of a retreat for artists to recharge their creativity is Camille Shafer.

Born in France during the darkest days of World War II, she suffered many hardships early on, including losing her right hand while unknowingly playing with a small explosive at the age of 2.

As an adult, she met and married her husband, Dave, and they eventually bought the property that sits above Spring Creek in 1972.

They connected with their neighbors in the community of Bluff, and their house became a place for activities such as volleyball games and potlucks, as well as quilt shows and music jam sessions. As time passed, Camille started planning for an expansion of their small cabin into a wondrous space that could accommodate many artists all at once.

Through hard work and perseverance, Shafer’s vision has become a reality.

The once-small cabin has evolved into an architectural work of art. After Dave’s passing in 2002, Azule continued to grow, and in 2010, it developed a residency program for musicians, painters, woodworkers, performers, writers, and artists of all disciplines.

Although Azule faced some serious setbacks in 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it has survived and Shafer is looking to get back to the activity levels they experienced pre-pandemic.

At 78 years old, Camille is also looking towards the future and anticipating a time when she is no longer here to help guide Azule.

But, she said she is at peace knowing that Azule is in good hands and that it can take care of itself, even during the most difficult of times.

Azule is much like Camille in that regard: A survivor.

For more information about both Azule and Camille Shafer, visit

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