Vol. V, No. 2, Fall 1991


About This Issue

By Robert Gilmore



There are several clues as to when fall comes to the Ozarks.

Apples are for sale at all the roadside stands, and pumpkins appear everywhere. Daylight saving time departs and there is less time in late afternoons to admire the multi-colored hillsides. Chimneys are cleaned and wood split and antifreeze checked and fallen leaves mowed--and crafts festivals bloom and 'flourish in scores of communities across the region. Crafts activities, of course, go on year round, but the fall crafts events are so much a part of the Ozarks landscape that it seems appropriate for OzarksWatch to dedicate this fall issue to this topic.

But now, as we go to press, a question emerges: Should this issue be called "Craft" or "Crafts?"

Crafts (with an "s") suggests the things or objects which are made by hand, while craft (without the "s") implies an emphasis on process and the skill or ability required to make something.

Actually, of course, this magazine is about both. The doughbowls handmade by Bob Elgin ("How I Carve Wooden Bowls") are certainly objects, or (handi)crafts, and the skill that he employs in making them is a craft.

The problem is, some craft work of exceptional character does not result in the kind of objects usually known as crafts. Illustration from this issue: the fine stonework buildings in the photographs by David Ulmer ("Stone Craft Architecture in the South-em Missouri Ozarks," and in those built by Don Holliday's grandfather ("Portraits in Wood and Stone").

We decided to go with "Craft." That term, we thought, would encompass doughbowls, carved birds, and john boats as well as stone dwellings and moonshining.

Some other quick comments about this issue:

Roadside signs. A new building to house the Shiloh Museum at Springdale, Arkansas was completed a couple of months ago, and my wife, Martha, and I drove down one Sunday afternoon to attend the dedication. As we drove south of the Missouri line along highway 65 and then west on highway 62 we were intrigued by the number and character of the roadside signs promoting crafts for sale. I snapped some of them for "The Last Look."

The Shiloh people have a number of museum activities during the year. One such fall enterprise is their "Sheep to Shawl" program, described and pictured in this issue.

Learning the trade. How does a person learn to be a crafter? Many Ozarkers teach themselves or receive training in a very traditional way--from friends or family. I found a good example of this at the Old Iron Works Days at Maramec Springs, where I discovered young James Heatherly working alongside his father, Nick, cutting dovetails for a cabinet drawer.

Nick, a professional engineer with the City of Springfield, Missouri, had learned his woodworking skills as an apprentice in the Missouri Cultural Heritage Center. He was the first apprentice trained by James Price, a Missouri Cultural Heritage Center Master Woodworker. The apprenticeship program is described in this issue. Jim also assembled the re-engineered tools display which is pictured on page 36.

The Federal Writers Project Guide. Terry Bloodworth begins his article on "The Modem Business of Crafts" with a quote from The WPA Guide to 1930s Missouri. Actually, this is the title of the reprint of the original book, Missouri: A Guide to the "Show Me" State, published in 1941 by the University of Kansas Press. If you don't have this book, get it. It is a wonderful opportunity, as Charles van Ravenswaay states in his foreword to the paperback edition, "to learn what the State was like on the eve of World War II, when traditional ways of thinking and doing were being swept away by the onrush of change." Van Ravenswaay, incidentally, was in charge of the Missouri Federal Writers Project which produced the original book.

Tradition and change are two concepts embodied in the modem practice of Ozarks craft. The editors hope that the words and images in this OzarksWatch contribute to the continuing effort to understand and interpret our region.

Woodworkers Nick and James Heatherly.
Ozarks Craft Advisory Council

The editors have had lots of good help in putting together this issue of OzarksWatch, especially from the six people who served on an advisory council. Their assistance is greatly appreciated:

Terry Bloodworth, Reeds Spring, Stone County, Missouri--Master glassblower, Silver Dollar City. Bob Elgin, St. James, Phelps County, Missouri--Phelps County Surveyor, Woodworker. Dorothy Ennis, Eminence, Shannon County, Missouri--Quiltmaker.

Don Holliday, Nixa, Christian County, Missouri--English Professor, folklorist, and fourth generation Taney County native.

James Price, Naylor, Ripley County, Missouri--Anthropologist, Master woodworker, tool collector. Sandy Primm, Rolla, Phelps County, Missouri--Writer, artist, and media producer.


Copyright -- OzarksWatch


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