Appalachians have always honored craft. Showoff quilts, complicated whittlings, "face jugs," intricate woven coverlets, and the work of famous basketmakers constituted the art of early Appalachia, the life and color of its remote mountain households. By the 1920s, however, the craft tradition was quickly vanishing. This lively, highly personal book recounts the "missionary" effort that preserved the traditional Appalachian craft culture and traces the organization, politics, and economics of later handcraft revival organizations in Southern Appalachia.
Deeply involved in many of the events he describes, Garry Barker has worked in the Appalachian crafts world since the early 1960s. He draws on memories of the leading craftspeople of a bygone era, LBJ's War on Poverty, mushrooming markets for craft products, and the rise of academic crafts training. The Handcraft Revival in Southern Appalachia represents the thoughtful winnowing of Barker's decades of serendipitous experience and disciplined observation, casual conversation and formal interviews, research and collecting, teaching and writing.
The book is the only history of the Appalachian craft movement between 1930 and 1990. As such it will become an essential resource for craftspeople, scholars, and all interested in the Southern Appalachian region. In addition, it constitutes a crucial chapter in the newly emerging history of American craft.