Heritage Lifestyle

Digital Heritage Moment: Brasstown Carvers

Digital Heritage Moment: Brasstown Carvers

St. Francis. Brasstown Carvers.
Photo courtesy of Mountain Heritage
Center, Western Carolina University

Olive Dame Campbell, founder of the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, began the Brasstown Carvers cooperative in 1930. Inspired, as so many outsiders were, by the desire to improve the standard of living of local people, she hoped that woodcarving would provide them with a new source of income. The Folk School assisted the carvers by cutting rough blocks of wood, sanding finished works, and buying and marketing the finished carvings.

Led by Murrial “Murray” Martin from 1935 to 1973, the carvers created patterns and achieved a level of quality that drew national attention. Animals and mountain people are popular subjects, but the best known carvings are figures for Christmas Nativity crèches. The Brasstown Carvers are now one of America’s oldest craft cooperatives.

Digital Heritage Moments are produced at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee. To learn more, visit DigitalHeritage.org. You may also hear Digital Heritage Moments each weekday on radio stations WKSF-FM, WWCU-FM, WMXF-AM, WPEK-AM and WWNC-AM.

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