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Southern Highland Craft Guild Wood Day

Jim McPhail turns tiny bowls on the lathe. Photo by Diana Gates

One of Appalachia’s indigenous resources, trees helped settlers of this region create the items necessary for living, such as tables, chairs, bowls, coopered barrels, wagons and shelters. Over time, woodwork transitioned into a leisure activity through whittling and carving.

The skill and mastery of wood will be celebrated and showcased by members of the Southern Highland Craft Guild (SHCG) on Saturday, August 5, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when makers will demonstrate and share their processes with visitors at the Folk Art Center.

Craftsman John Hollifield will demonstrate the process of splitting and putting together bamboo pieces for fly fishing rods. “My satisfaction lies in helping others appreciate the artistry and knowing a new generation of makers may be inspired to continue this longheld craft,” he says. “The existence of the SHCG ensures that these fine arts and crafts will be promoted and inspiration derived from fellow members’ work will continue.”

Another participating woodworker, Lyle Wheeler says attaining Guild membership has given his work legitimacy beyond his sphere of influence. “Shortly after I juried in, I acquired one of the original enameled steel member placards found at a junk store. It hangs above the door to my shop. Whenever folks come by to order or pick up my offerings they see it and many relate their high esteem for the Guild and, by association, me.”

Admission to Wood Day and to the Folk Art Center is free. “This event not only educates the public on the rigors and talent that go into woodworking, but serves the mission of the Guild in preserving a longtime culture and heritage,” says Hannah Barry, SHCG public relations manager.

The Folk Art Center is located at Milepost 382 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, north of the Highway 70 entrance in east Asheville. For a list of makers participating in Wood Day, and to learn more about Southern Highland Craft Guild programs at the Folk Art Center, call 828-298-7928 or visit craftguild.org/woodday.

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