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Craftsman of the Cumberlands: Tradition and Creativity

Overview

Why do people consider aesthetic qualities as well as utilitarian ones in the making of everyday objects? Why do they maintain traditions? What is the nature of their creative process? These are some of the larger questions addressed by Michael Owen Jones in his book on craftsmen in the Cumberland Mountains of eastern Kentucky. Concentrating on the work of one man, woodworker and chairmaker Chester Cornett, Jones not only describes the tools and techniques employed by Cornett but also his aspirations and values. ...

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Overview

Why do people consider aesthetic qualities as well as utilitarian ones in the making of everyday objects? Why do they maintain traditions? What is the nature of their creative process? These are some of the larger questions addressed by Michael Owen Jones in his book on craftsmen in the Cumberland Mountains of eastern Kentucky. Concentrating on the work of one man, woodworker and chairmaker Chester Cornett, Jones not only describes the tools and techniques employed by Cornett but also his aspirations and values. Cornett possessed a deep knowledge of his materials and a mastery of construction methods. Some of his chairs represent not objects of utility but aesthetic developments of the chair form. Cornett sought to cope with the problems of his life, Jones maintains; their massiveness provided a sense of security, the virtuosity of their design and construction, a feeling of self-esteem. Jones also compares other area craftsmen and their views about their work.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The story of a complex man who through his chairs tries to transcend his limitations, yet seems to be thwarted. He withdraws more and more into his craft and looks toward it as some kind of salvation. Just may change the way we look at handmade objects." — Atlanta History

"Reminds us why studying folklore makes us feel good." — Journal of American Folklore

"Jones investigates the lost tradition in the context of folklore, exploring the craft of chairmaking through the bittersweet stories of those who keep the traditions alive." — McCormick (SC) Messenger

"An outstanding work. It describes chairmaking in southeatern Kentucky as a craft in fine detail, and it fulfills its promise to answer some more fundamental questions about chairmakers themselves, their families, their friends." — Southern Folklore

Booknews
A charming book in the Foxfire tradition. Jones history and folklore, UCLA focuses on the artistic and traditional constraints in the work of one woodworker and chairmaker, Chester Cornett. Paper edition unseen, $15. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR booknews.com
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813190389
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 11/1/2009
  • Edition description: 3RD
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 0.68 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface ix
1 The Chairmaking Business 1
2 The Masterpiece and the New Design 48
3 Man of Constant Sorrow 80
4 The Unique and the Antique 113
5 Security, Seclusion, and Self-Esteem 155
6 It Takes Half a Fool to Make Chairs 196
7 The Beauty Part and the Lasting Part 235
Bibliographical Notes 263
Index 284
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