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Archive for the ‘Arts & Crafts’ Category

On a typical day, hundreds of cars whizz past Woody’s Chair Shop, located  a few steps away from Highway 70 West just outside of Marion.  The building appears nondescript, and it is understandable why many speed right on by.WoodysChairShop  For decades however, seekers of old-fashioned handmade chairs- as well as seekers of a warm welcome and a ready batch of stories- have sought refuge in Max Woody’s shop, and they have received it.

Max’s father passed away when Max was young, but his grandfather Martin Woody taught him the family trade of handcrafting custom-made ladderback chairs.  He’s been at it for nearly 60 years, now with two sons following in his footsteps.

Max Woody knows his way around a fiddle as well as a lathe.

Max Woody knows his way around a fiddle as well as a lathe.

In addition to having received orders for chairs from all over the country (and beyond) and currently with a 3-5 year waiting list, Max Woody has another claim to fame.  It was right here in his shop that the Friday night pickin’ parties that grew into the tradition known as Old Fort Mountain Music began.  (You can watch our feature about Old Fort Mountain Music here.)

So sit back and enjoy this visit to Woody’s Chair Shop. Max tells us how his craft has been handed down through the family, plus he takes us into the workshop,  where he still works on machines that he proudly declares “obsolete”:

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We’ve all heard the old saying “A woman’s work is never done”, and that was especially true on a farm or plantation in the old days. Dr. James Haney of SpinningWheelthe historic Carson House takes us on a tour of an exhibit in one of the upper rooms of the home devoted to “women’s work”.  He talks about the use of the loom, spinning wheel, quilt press, and even a somewhat intimidating-looking tool called a shuck hackle.

(As you will note if you spend much time exploring this website, Dr. Haney was very generous with his time and expertise for this project. We thank him profusely.)

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In the early 1800s, the historic Carson House served as a stagecoach stop and inn for travelers between Salisbury and Asheville. McDowell County was organized in the house in 1843, and the structure served as the first seat of county government. The house is now a museum, and in 2009 hosted an exhibit of quilts with historical significance. Historian and author Dr. James Haney takes us on a tour of the exhibit and shares some fascinating stories about the quilts’ makers, including Carson slaves Kadella and Fatima.

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Shuford Daniel Hilton, Bill Hendley's great-uncle, is seen throwing a pot at the old Hilton Pottery in Pleasant Gardens in this photo from the NC Office of Archives and History.

Shuford Daniel Hilton, Bill Hendley's great-uncle, is seen throwing a pot at the old Hilton Pottery in Pleasant Gardens in this photo from the NC Office of Archives and History.

In 1934, Ernest Auburn Hilton established  Hilton Pottery in McDowell County.  A fifth-generation potter, he one of the first  in western North Carolina to use color in the making of pottery.  Color had been used by one other potter, Jake Weaver,  who had died almost a hundred years earlier.  “Aubie” Hilton’s wife Clara Maude was also a potter and later became well known for her dolls as well. (Information from History of McDowell County by Mildred Fossett.)

The Hiltons’ grandson, Bill Hendley, is continuing the tradition. In this video, he talks about the Hilton method of firing the kiln, painting, and color.

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