these toys functional or nonfunctional?
How do these differ from other toys?
Did your parents or grandparents play with toys like this one?
Do you think you could make toys like these? If so, describe how. (See the
Wooden Train project.)
Joe Offerman, Santa Carving
Self-taught woodcarver Joe Offerman is a retired speech-language pathologist
from western Kentucky. Joe and his wife have a special interest in Santa Claus. Since he
started in the 1990s, Joe has carved more than 10,000 Santa Claus figures and ornaments.
Joe uses all types of wood, including recycled pencils, tree bark and driftwood.
His work has been exhibited at the Kennedy Center, the White House, and many art and craft
galleries across Kentucky.
Why didn't the artist
paint all of the wood? Was it intentional to leave some of the bark showing?
Compare this to other Holiday ornaments. How are they different or alike?
Have you ever made an ornament? How and why was yours different from the artist's ornament?
Steve Rice, Shaker box
Self-taught wood artist Steve Rice has been crafting Shaker boxes and carriers
since 1994 and began exhibiting and selling them in 1995. He hand-cuts and shapes the
fingers, then steams the bands, bending them around a form to be secured with copper
tacks. After two days of drying, he fits the forms with tops and bottoms, which are held
with wooden pegs. The entire process takes three to five days. Steve makes these boxes
during his time off from his job as an electrical engineer.
The United Societies of Believers in Christ's Second Coming, commonly known as Shakers, have
practiced their religion, the oldest communal experience in America, for more than 200
years. The Society endured the rise and fall of the popularity of the religion and the
changes wrought by a modern world.
The Shakers embodied their spirit in the form of their belief that the world
around them could be perfected through their labors, so they dedicated their hearts to God
by putting their hands to work. As a result, impressions of them are still available in
the techniques they have left behind.
The Shaker faith forbade ornament, so the beauty of Shaker art lies in its
functional qualities of simple line and form, not in carving or painting. These
characteristics attract present day artists like Steve Rice to create Shake-inspired
objects. He and others continue to produce Shaker art, keeping the societies'
philosophy of simplicity alive.
How does the process the artist used reflect Shaker values?
What is the obvious Shaker influences in the box's appearance?
What would you put in the box?
Why would a full-time engineer make Shaker boxes?
Do you know anyone who makes art as a hobby or part-time? If so, what, and why?
Rude Osolnik, Vessel
Rudy Osolnik is a master wood turner from Berea, Kentucky. Osolnik is a
considered one of the best wood turners in the world. After retiring from Berea College
where he headed the industrial arts program and taught for more than forty years, Rude
conducted seminars, lectures and demonstrations around the country. At age eighty-two he
continues to work from his studio producing lasting works of art which stand the test of
time. His lathe-turned work can be found in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian
Institute, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and several other prominent private
collections including the Vice President's home.
See the enclosed book on Rude Osolnik's life and work.
Is this functional or nonfunctional?
How did the artist make the opening so small? (See book on Osolnik.)
Have you ever seen a lathe? What does it look like and what is it used for? (See
book on Osolnik.)
Can you name three types of wood in your region of Kentucky? Are any used to
produce furniture or other products locally?
How are handmade wood items different from manufactured items?
Lestel and Ollie Childress,
White Oak Basket
The Chilldress are fifth generation basket makers from Hart County. They have
been making baskets since they were children and both of their families have a long
history of practice in the craft.
After marrying, they continued the family tradition of basketry using materials
found from the surrounding woods near their home. They blend several types of wood while
weaving, but they are especially known for their white oak baskets. Both hope their nephew
and grandchildren will ensure that a seventh generation of Childress basket makers carries
on the proud tradition.
Before paper bags, tin
cans, and plastic containers, our forebears relied on baskets of all shapes and sizes as
utensils essential in daily routines of an agrarian society. A basket's form and construction often reflected its function.
Commonly used for gathering, transporting and storing goods, most baskets served as basic
containers and were often named for their contents or use: egg basket for gathering eggs,
coal basket for hauling coal, berry baskets, pack baskets, clothes baskets,...laundry
baskets. (Nash Law, Taylor 1991).
Basketmaking has traditionally been carried on by families through generations
of self- taught crafts people. There few isolated individuals who learned to make baskets
on their own or from a neighbor, however evidence suggests that the majority of
basketmaking is perpetuated through a family network. Basketmaking requires few tools, and
was generally viewed as a way to make extra money or barter for goods.
There are three types of white oak baskets (the piece in our suitcase is a small
ribbed melon basket): rib, rod and split. The rib basket has a foundation of curved pieces
which reinforces the basket structure with graceful curves and a rounded shape. The rod
basket is created with long slender rods which have been spilt and shaped from white oak.
Rarely is this method used today and this form is nearing extinction because few
basketmakers continue the tradition. Lastly, the split basket is constructed of long flat
strips of wood known as as splits. The round, square or rectangular split baskets are the
simplest of all the white oak baskets.
The above passage uses quotes and information from:
Law Nash, Rachel and Taylor, Cynthia. Appalachian White Oak BASKETMAKING:
handing down the basket. The University of Tennessee Press. 1991.
Do you have any baskets in your home?
What are the three types of baskets?
Can you name containers that have replaced baskets? How are these containers
made and what materials are used?
Lonnie and Twyla Money,
Lonnie Money lives with his wife, Twyla in Isonville, Kentucky. They operate a
tobacco and cattle farm while creating their wood carvings. The memory of Lonnie's great grandfather, a Swiss immigrant wood carver
inspired Lonnie to start carving wood.
He began by making walking sticks with animal shapes and progressed to carving
three dimensional animal figures. Twyla assists with finishing and carving on the pieces
and does most of the painting. The two have been producing wood carvings and art from
their Eastern Kentucky farm for nearly a decade.
The walking stick is one of the oldest utilitarian craft objects
in human history. It has served as a walking aid, a weapon, a status symbol, and often as
a commemorative object. The way artists use the form as a vehicle for self-expression is
of great interest to contemporary collectors and curator. The walking stick plays host to
unlimited animal and human representations. Some examples are statements of pure geometric
design while others receive heavy ornamentation.
If one had to name the most common motif in cane carving it would likely be the
snake. Many cultures throughout the world have been intrigued by these reptiles and they
are a common symbol in art, literature, religion, and folklore. The staff and snake symbol
for the medical profession in the United States is an excellent contemporary example. The
linear form of sticks, which easily transforms into a snake, may explain the great number
of walking sticks bearing this imagery.
Do you think the first walking stick was discovered or invented?
Why do you think snakes are a popular symbol?
What is a "linear" form?
Where do you think artists find their sticks and what would make a
Have you ever used a walking stick? When and why?
Greg Williams, Box
In 1974, while living near Bear Willow, Kentucky, Greg Williams realized he had
a greater affinity for woodworking than for the chemical engineering he had studied in
school. Not long afterward, an elderly blues guitar player agreed to sell Greg a set of
tools which symbolically helped determine Greg=s
fate: He was a woodworker now and there was no turning back.
In the early 1980s, Greg took a course in design that introduced him to Mayan
architecture and Art Deco. These designs heavily influence his work and often result in
unusual constructions of boxes with several elaborate shapes and designs. Greg currently
lives and works outside Burksville, Kentucky with his wife and two children.
Is this functional or non-functional?
What would you store in this box?
How many different types of wood are used in this box?
How was the wood joined together?
What are the patterns in the box? Describe them and suggest similar patterns in
Doug and Mary Ridley, Bust
The Ridley's piece is a caricature of
Emil Janek, an old world carver. The piece is carved from Tupelo Gum, a native wood of the
Louisiana bayous. It is finished naturally with an overspray of varnish. Biographical
information was unavailable on the artists.
Who does the old man resemble?
Why is the piece varnished instead of painted or stained?
Describe what type of life the man might have lived and support
your answer with evidence from the bust.