What WOOD You Do?

Heritage Farm celebrated another Way Back Weekend this past Saturday showcasing area Appalachian artists who are proficient in crafting with wood. Several artists attended and each was uniquely talented as I gazed at their beautiful creations and tried to do justice with my camera in capturing their true beauty. 
Three basket weavers quietly sat in the corner surrounded by tables of baskets, while a member of the news media snapped their images......The baskets were beautiful and I thought how could one possibly choose a favorite? Gail Hutchinson of Home Grown From the Heart is both a designer and an instructor. She names her creations which adds a personal touch. I guess after one works so hard on a craft, it certainly does deserve a name!
Collen Smith of Cat's Paw Baskets and Karen Buskirk of School Bus Stuff, both located in Huntington, were busy weaving very different creations.  Colleen made the cat tail basket featured on the flyer and Karen made one of my favorites, a sweet little birdhouse.  All three crafters had their own tables full of beautiful baskets. 
I wandered over to the next artisan and was in awe at seeing a most beautiful piece of curly cherry crafted in an heirloom tall secretary.  Jerill Vance, of Jerill Vance Woodworks, LLC holds an AAS degree in Fine Woodworking and is a member of MiAppa, a nonprofit organization that showcases and helps promote Appalachian artisans online.  

Dressed appropriately with an Appalachian flair, Mr. Vance was eager to show me the fine details of both his quilt case and the secretary.  The quilt case contained a removable panel allowing the quilter to add or change their custom pattern.  The secretary was composed of the curly cherry, with walnut accents, book matched in several areas with two hidden compartments true to the period of when this type of furniture was made.  Back in the day, (banks did not exist), folks hid their important documents and their dollars!  The longer drawer was of his own idea but still drilled with the necessary holes to allow for airflow and eliminate deterioration of the precious paper goods.  Mr. Vance does do custom work and I would love for his tilt top table to have a horse inlay. 

John Kessinger, the area's premier cooper maker was delighted to talk with people, share his technique and offer interesting tidbits of information regarding his ancestors.  A cooper is another word for a wooden bucket.  Mr. Kessinger's people came to America in the 1700's and thankfully continued to pass this important craft to their younger generations.   He teaches and currently is ready to take on another apprentice should you know of anyone interested.  It takes a great amount of skill to craft his water worthy vessels though most today would purchase his beautiful buckets for decorative purposes.  I think they would look wonderful holding a large fall floral arrangement!

The antique ax has a Sears emblem dated in the late 1800's! Notice the sharp blade on one side with no blade on the other. 

Tick tock, we all need clocks but these spectacular creations are absolutely gorgeous! The fine detailing of Ed Montgomery's clocks are one of a kind and a 'kin to lace.  My photos do not do justice to this man's fine work and I fell in love with his deer clock.  He showed me his Dremel drill and the tiny blade he uses to craft the delicate cuts.  I thought his pricing was very reasonable and I still might give him a call if he hasn't sold the deer clock.  The talent in this area is unsurpassed and  if it weren't for Heritage Farm, I would not have known about them.  I do think MiAppa will be a great tool for area Appalachian artists to publicize their crafts, especially with Christmas only 3.5 months away!

The room began to get crowded and I had one more artisan to meet.  Ervin Jones, a Tamarack Artist and a member of Miappa specializes in crafting furniture and woodworking.  He highlights wooden ornaments of domestic and exotic woods on his business card and rightfully so.  The cute little birdhouse ornaments are one of a kind and so very pretty!  But...this wooden bowl that had a 'sold' ticket on it was fabulous.  With its scalloped edges and warm ginger tones I was immediately attracted to this amazing creation.  Oh how I could just see it safely perched on a coffee table filled with potpourri or maybe nothing at all as the detailed veins would be hidden.  He was working on a white vase and upon completion he let me hold the vase which was damp...interesting!  There was another one just like it drying on the table.  Visitors began to gather around and it was important for the artisans to talk with them so I politely left and strolled outside. 

Regrettably I missed the Woods Walk that was scheduled frequently throughout the day.  I am sure it would have been a wonderful walk through the cool woods to learn about the various trees.  I was so busy talking with the artisans that I completely forgot and when I left the building, I was met with a lot of folks headed to the Petting Zoo so naturally I joined them.  Those sweet little furry faces are such a draw.

I couldn't help myself and had to see what this man was trying to get...ah, the little grey bunny was happy to be back in the pen and the gold fluff ball was smart to stay in the corner.  So cute!
His blissful smile is like a ray of sunshine!
Would Downy and Fluff remember me?
Everyone has smiles at this Petting Zoo!
As I was departing the farm, I couldn't help but notice this little tent.  The 'Mountain Man' had four different types of meat slowly cooking over a fire pit dug into the ground.  Now that is authentic!  I tasted a tiny bit of wild boar and elk but there was buffalo and some bacon to sample as well.  Actually, the elk was very good and the wild boar wasn't too different from pork.  He had a special marinade on the meat that was really quite tasty! Heritage Farm, always busy on a Saturday, hosted a wedding as well as the celebration.  This wedding woman enjoyed her tasty tidbits and lingered on quite a bit while I snapped some photos.  

It was truly a wonderful day at Heritage Farm.  'What Wood You Do?' offered fine examples of artisan craftsmanship and allowed the visitor a peak into how wood was worked back in the day as well as giving a glimpse into modern day examples of a variety of very fine creations.  I hope you enjoyed reading about these talented individuals.  Most do not have nor want websites, therefore, there was no link to their name however, they do have emails. Should you be interested, just post a comment and I can give you the information.  With Christmas just around the corner, you may want to support these talented individuals all while preserving our Appalachian heritage.  What Wood You Do? was a perfect example of the Heritage Farm motto....preserve the past, appreciate today and build for the future. 

1 comment:

Country Gal said...

What a fantastic day ! Wood is our last name hehe ! Papa would love a day like this ! Papa here loves to wood work in his shop , he makes anything from furniture to scrolling ! Awesome post and photos! Have a wonderful day !