Oral History Interview with Philis Alvic Part II

Kentucky Historical Society


Transcript Index

Search This Index
Go X

0:02 - Demonstrating weaving at art fairs / why people buy crafts

Play segment Segment link

Keywords: art fairs; demonstration; education; weaving

6:54 - One World film society in Lexington, KY

8:03 - Writing a book on craft revival / International Weaving Consultant

12:40 - International Executive Service Corp

Play segment Segment link

Keywords: International Executive Service Corp; United Nations; US Foreign Aid

14:06 - Relecting on her international consulting experiences

19:31 - Southern Highland Handicraft Guild / KY Guild

Play segment Segment link

Keywords: Appalachia; Berea College; Conference of Southern Mountain Workers; Council of the Southern Mountains; Guild of New Hampshire Craftsmen; John C. Campbell; Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen; Rudy; Southern Highland Handicraft Guild

28:40 - Different types of crafts

34:07 - Tradition and craft / marketing crafts

Play segment Segment link

Keywords: basket; Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen; Peru

37:43 - Explaining historical photos

Play segment Segment link

Keywords: Anna Irnburg; Berea College; Mountain Weaver Boys; weaving

50:20 - Academic work on crafts and Appalachia


ALVIC: I was talking about someone demonstrating crafts. When somebody can see that I put in my thread one row at a time, that they can see that it takes me a long time to do it. Although I’ll tell you, the most often asked question of craftsperson is, ‘How long did it take you to do that?’. Now it’s a question that most crafts people feel rather insulted. You could go you don’t go to other people with a skill and ask them how long they spent doing it. I always felt like they wanted to figure out an hourly wage for me. But then I thought, oh, just treat it like a politician encounters a question. Just because they ask a question, doesn’t mean you have to answer it. That, look at it as an opportunity to talk, And so I really interpreted that question not that people wanted to be insulting, but they wanted to interact with me, and that was a question that popped into their mind. In fact, they might even be interested in the answer, but that didn’t mean I had to answer it. So I would talk to them about the nature of weaving, about how I had to thread each of these little threads through here one-at-a-time using one of these hooks, and then they had to go through here one-at-a-time in a particular pattern. And the hours I had spent at my loom before I ever throw a shuttle. And so I was interacting and educating them about my craft. Well, potters and woodworkers, and glass blowers go through very intricate steps within their craft too and if people can see it happen, they feel more a part of the process. It’s my feeling that people buy crafts because they want a connection with the person making an item. You can go to Wal-Mart and buy things cheaper, and maybe more functional, but we have a very, very active crafts movement in this country, a growing one. Well, we don’t compete on price. We compete on quality, on the artistry of what we do, and on this connection we provide with the maker and the consumer. That when people spend as much as they would spend for a craft item, they want to talk about it. When people come into their house, they say, ‘Oh, you have a new hanging’. It’s like, ‘Yes, and you know this wonderful artist that has been you know been weaving for over forty years made this’. And it becomes the story in the way they relate to the item. So demonstrating at fairs is far more than entertainment. It is really educating the public as to what they’re buying. The fact that they could interact with the craftsperson, and ask them questions, that it provides another dimension to that experience. And for a lot of people in a state like Kentucky, they might have been more exposed to hand-crafted items through some sort of family connection than they would in other places. But very few people have any idea how the things that surround them in life actually get made. My own field of textiles, we come into contact with many, many different kinds of textiles throughout an average day. And people know so little about how it happens.

WILLIHNGANZ: You know this is all, you are a good educator. This is all wonderful information for me because as a videographer I do a lot of talking to people and asking exactly the same, ‘How long does it take to make that?’ And it’s like I don’t know how long it took me. It took me days, weeks, months, years I mean it could be years. It goes on forever, you know, it’s day and night. I don’t keep track. I mean you know I was working on it 8 o’clock last night on my thing. Shirley said, ‘You still at work?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’m still at work’. And you know you don’t just stop what you’re doing and just get lost in your work.

ALVIC: Well and the thing is to tell people about the process. Well yes, I have to videotape a lot so I can extract out the story and condense it down into, you know, the short time span that everybody has these days.

WILLIHNGANZ: That’s exactly right.

ALVIC: You know, its like, how can I get to the main point of it? Well, it takes a lot especially when I’m not writing the lines for these people.

WILLIHNGANZ: Oh, you’re so right about that.

ALVIC: Laughter - Well you can tell I’ve known a few people with the video thing. By the way, I need to give you one of our flyers. My husband and I are the committee for the One World Film Society for Lexington.

WILLIHNGANZ: Good for you.

ALVIC: And we just have our list of films out or maybe I’ll just e-mail you the flyers so that way you can.

WILLIHNGANZ: Okay, a hard copy. I’d like that too.

ALVIC: Okay, so we were really heavy on documentaries this year and we managed to get a few feature films in there too.


ALVIC: The object of One World, is One World is to promote understanding diversities so we try and hit a lot of bases there with things. And the founder of it is pretty much for new things rather than historical ones. And this is our tenth year so we’ve been, you know, making our own history in this film series. They happen in February and end of March and we have thirteen films we’re showing this year.

WILLIHNGANZ: That’s terrific!

ALVIC: Yeah, and raise money we actually pay screening rights.


ALVIC: Hey. I met a filmmaker coming off the plane in Dares Salaam.


ALVIC: So I’m telling you about our film society in Lexington, Kentucky. Oh, but this is another thing, if we’re going to my life, that I refer to the writing that came out of the weaving. Well I wrote a book on historical weaving centers in Appalachia, the Appalachian Craft Revival. And that tied into many of the settlement schools and I can go and talk about that for a long, long time. Which to do background for my book, I started going to the Appalachian Studies Conferences and so I regularly present Appalachian Studies Conferences. But in 1994, I did my first international consulting trip. And I was supposed to be a technical adviser on weaving to Peru. I was supposed to teach the Peruvians to weave faster, according to the guy that I was down there to help. Well I went around and talked to a lot of people and visited a lot of people and my conclusion was that they should weave slower, which really upset him. By slower, I meant that they should pay more attention to quality, and they had the technical ability to do the quality. People were just telling them to do it faster as a way of producing more. And I said, ‘No, slower, better quality and let’s work on the marketing and then selling that.’ So I went during that trip there from being a technical weaving adviser to putting on a different hat and I became an adviser for product development and marketing. Well, I not only had my life as a craftsperson that informed me on how to do that, but I also had this study in the Appalachian Mountains, because the settlement school people that were trying to educate children dealing with some health problems and provide a little cash money. To people at so early date thought, ‘Well, we love the crafts, we’d buy the baskets and the weaving, maybe some of our friends would like’. Well, how do we take known skills, turn them into products, and then market them? They were the same problems that Peru was dealing with in the end of the twentieth century; the Appalachian people had dealt with at the early part of the century. So it was like, oh, let’s hope we have a few more tools currently to bring to bear on how to sell things. Well that was the first of the consulting trips. Since then, I’ve gone on a dozen of them. I’ve been to various parts of the world. This last fall I spent a month in Tanzania, coming back through Nairobi, through Kenya on my way back home, and seen some people that I knew previously in Kenya. So I’ve had this wonderful international experience too and helping people deal with product development and marketing, how to tell their stories to relate to the consumer. And I can go in and talk to them as a crafts-person and so it’s been a tremendous experience for me. Oh, also earlier I mentioned Armenia, that’s the country that I have been to the most. I’ve done four different projects in Armenia.

WILLIHNGANZ: What group sponsors you to do these trips to Africa?

ALVIC: Okay. Well most of them were done through the International Executive Service Corps. So technically, I’m a volunteer, but all of the expenses are covered with that, which means, the flight, the hotel, the per diem. It’s one of the agencies that’s funded by U.S. Foreign Aid. Unfortunately with a different focus in the government, that sector has been going down, so this last trip that I did was actually through the United Nations. The money came from there. It was the U.N.H.C.R. which is the committee on refugee relief. And it was dealing with an area of Tanzania where a lot of refugees had come from Burundi and was working with the women to help them, again provide an income doing crafts work of some sort. And I was to design products in them, there to make them.

WILLIHNGANZ: Yeah, it’s wonderful work I really appreciate your newsletters which are fun to read and fascinating. Gosh! It’s a whole other world.

ALVIC: Laugher. Well, it is. It’s so hard to imagine and people you know often ask me well, how do I feel about it? How do I like, you know? Well, one just has different standards that one goes by. When one is in these places that. The important thing is the interaction with the people. When I go on these trips I have an experience that no tourist could have, because I’m working directly with people, that make things that understand about crafts. So we have a meeting of minds there that makes for an opening up of people that you wouldn’t have without real connections some way into it. One instance that I was just called to recently, was that in Dares Salaam I had some contact names and in fact, this one man, he was so busy and he was seeing me in the early evening because that was the only time he could fit me into his schedule, but he thought it was important that he talk to me. And he was in the business of marketing Tanzanian crafts and he said, ‘Oh, you’ll want to go to the museum, the National Museum over the weekend, because the women’s groups from Catholic churches all over Tanzania are having a major exhibition and sale, where they set up little booths, crafts their variety, on the grounds of this museum.’ So I said, ‘Wonderful’ and I went there and I started talking to the women. And then at the place I was staying, one of the women over dinner said, because she was an academic from Australia, and she was saying, ‘Well, I have a free day tomorrow, where should I go?’ And I said, ‘Go to the National Museum.’ I said, ‘In fact, I’ll come with you because I’d really like to go back again.’ So I was back there a second day and I saw a woman that I had seen previously. And she was along the coast of Tanzania to the south of where we were in Dares Salaam. And I was talking to her and at one point she said, ‘Well, where are you from in the United States?’ And I said, ‘Oh, I’m from Lexington, Kentucky.’ And I started to explain and she said, ‘Oh, I know where that is.’ I thought you do?. And said, ‘Oh, yes, she said, I spent a year in Cincinnati.’ It’s like she said, ‘Oh, I was at,’ and she named a Catholic retreat center that’s on the edge of Cincinnati that I had actually been to. Its like, okay, small world.. Well, you know she was working with this group of Catholic women and I was telling her little things, about they made wonderful baskets. And I said, ‘Well all you’d have to do to make this more attractive for an international market is to put heavier looking handles on them.’ I said, ‘Those might be the traditional handles, and they might do well to carry anything that one would put in that basket, but they don’t look sturdy.’ I said, ‘A lot of crafts, you’re dealing with people’s perceptions.’ So you put on a little heavier handle and it looks sturdier. So you know sometimes, some of the things that I say I feel like, you know, this is not, you know, fantastic advice. But its different eyes looking at things, and sometimes a person from outside can see little ways to point people; also, the fact that I have a better handle on the American consumer.

WILLIHNGANZ: Tell me some more of the Guild history [unintelligible].

ALVIC: Okay, yeah, okay. Guild history, well Guild history really when we get into history, it’s how far back do you go because there’s always something before what you know. Well, one of the important steps in the history is the Southern Highland Handicraft Guild. Where earlier I referred to the crafts activities in Appalachia, that when different centers throughout the mountains were involved in selling, they realized they had common problems. Well, a man by the name of John C. Campbell got people working in the mountains to come together once a year to what he called, ‘The Conference of Southern Mountain Workers.’ And this became eventually the Counsel of the Southern Mountains that went through the early seventies. But back in the early part of the twentieth century, one of the things that they would talk about in their meetings and had experts in to help them with, was marketing crafts. Well they finally decided, well maybe, they needed their own organization. They finally got it together in 1930 and founded The Southern Highland Handicraft Guild. And they have their Standards and things that they did. Their first fair was in 1948 on the grounds of the Phi Beta Phi School in Gatlinburg. Okay, they took in the Appalachian counties as defined by John C. Campbell in his book, The Southern Mountaineer and His Homeland. So well, that took in about a third of Kentucky, the eastern mountain third. Well so there were a lot of Kentuckians that were members of Southern Highlands, so when the ideas to start a state organization came, there were already people that were members of the Southern Highland Guild that became some of the pillars of the Kentucky Guild. And those were people centered around Berea College, because Berea College was one of the founders of the Southern Highland Guild. And several of the other institutions in the mountains were crafts-people that were. So one of the pillars of the Kentucky Guild was Rudy Osolnik, who taught woodworking and managed the woodworking craft at Berea College. And so he knew how the Southern Highlands had been running things. So they had models for doing certain things, like running the fair. So even though the Kentucky Guild was, like I say again for all of Kentucky, they had the model of Southern Highlands before them. And from looking at it, a lot of individual state organizations came into being in those early to mid sixties. Kentucky was one of the first of them. Now the oldest state organization is a Guild of New Hampshire Craftsman and that started in the early thirties, so they were really one of the oldest ones, but Southern Highlands does precede them. And there had been earlier crafts organizations, but that had been in the Art and Craft Movement type, the Ruskin and Morris coming out of England sort. And many of those were people doing good works to help the indigent and promoting crafts that way. And so the idea that actual craft producers and sellers were having organizations was really the Southern Highlands. In New Hampshire, were that and then, like I say, these different state organizations started happening in the sixties. And that was also because in the sixties, lots of things happened, but you’re beginning to have the influence of a lot more people. The baby boomers are, you know, that we hear so much, they’re going into colleges, so colleges are expanding. Colleges are expanding the amounts of things that they teach. So all of a sudden, departments are becoming much larger and can offer variety and that’s when many of the craft areas got instituted into higher education. Well when you have people teaching crafts, you also having people with craft skills that want to do something with it.

Well, you can teach it or you have a craft. You can produce things, so all of a sudden you’ve got people making a lot more stuff. Its like, how can we sell it? And so these became real questions and the Guild was positioned to answer these. Well, you can stay here in Kentucky. You don’t have to move some place else. You don’t have to go to one of those big cities to set up a studio. Stay here where you can have a much more economical life style and produce your crafts and sell it to people in those cities. You know, we’ll set up the networks to do that. And so that’s when it’s usually referred to a Studio Crafts Movement kind of ballooned and took off.

WILLIHNGANZ: Were there other parts of the Guild, were there other craft organizations that were specific to Kentucky or was the craft again pretty much it?

ALVIC: No, the Guild was really the bringing out of crafts people. Now for the eastern third, they had been eligible to join Southern Highlands. So and Southern Highlands became centered in North Carolina, but it always was managed and drew people from without the mountain counties. But there hadn’t been things for the rest of Kentucky. And exhibiting crafts have always been a problem that many art galleries are reluctant to show craft, considering it a lower art form. Well those of us in crafts, of course, don’t consider it that. In fact, we’re very good on the art/craft controversy thing; spent a lot of time in younger years talking about that. But it’s one of those phases anybody that’s dedicating their life to craft has to go through. And so there are also within the crafts world there’s a variety of different types of crafts, for Kentucky, production crafts have been very important. You would turn out multiples of something and sell it. Now the fact that you’re doing many mugs or bowls, they’ve been touched by the artist’s hands. That there was a lot of skill in artistry that went into designing the first one, because chances are, there were many before they got to that one that say, okay, this is the one I’m going to reproduce. And so then developing those skills it takes to do a production craft. You know dealing with those questions of, do you hire people to do part of the process to help you? Do you become a manager, that is essentially having other people produce your designs?

WILLIHNGANZ: Yeah, that’s a whole issue that I’ve explored in some of the other interviews because you look at things like Louisville Stoneware and you know they’re halfway between a standard china manufacturer and a craft person and there is some tread-to-fine line there and it’s a tricky call where you decide to put your art.

ALVIC: Yeah, well and I’ve known many people that have gone back and forth across the line. You know, people that have large production things, that says, well no, I want to do more of my own stuff. It’s like the bread and butter is all that I’m, it was just supposed to be bread and butter, it wasn’t supposed to be my whole life. But in a way it became too successful. And so now, you know, do I let that go, or do I set it up as a separate entity and let it go its own way. So like I said, I have had many friends that have dealt with those questions in different ways throughout their lives. But I also think it’s given that this is Kentucky and that many people come out of the tradition of making things, that there are people that made things for use in their daily lives. And I think this is a human tendency, because way back in prehistoric archeology you see evidences of man decorating items for daily life and work. So to me it’s something that’s built into humans. Well, so you made baskets to collect eggs in from your chickens, okay, well all of a sudden you realize that other people want that basket and don’t know how to make baskets. So you go into basket making. Well, you don’t have a background as an artist. You just have that background from the craft. You know how to look at a tree and decide whether that’s going to make good splints for your basket. You know the tradition has taught you how to prepare those materials to make that basket. You know, do you stick with the tradition of making the basket or do you put some of your own personal creativity in and make slightly different shapes? And then as we all do, if we’re selling things, you sell one of them and think well I had better make more of that shape that you kind of go with what’s been selling. So there is the development of the traditional crafts and I choose the baskets particularly, because that is one that has found quite a market through the tradition. And there is a real history of Kentucky basket-makers particularly centered around the Mammoth Cave area, because there were tourists that bought baskets there. So there was a reason to continue on, people making them, and so there’s quite a tradition of basket-makers there that have for generations made baskets.

WILLIHNGANZ: So it’s the Guild what did basically was legitimize the marketing function and give them clear coaching training, etcetera.

ALVIC: Well traditions will not survive unless there is a real reason to. You know there’s a few hobbyists that might be interested and take it up, but the surest way for a tradition of making things to survive, is to have a market is to sell them. And so with my international consulting, I try and look at what interesting techniques people are doing and use those techniques in products, that I think might have a wider market, as a way of keeping it alive rather than it just becoming a dilettante’s exercise. Or like we do with the ancient Peruvians, we try and reconstruct how it’s done from the piece itself. Well it’s much better. It remains a continuance tradition, so that people that have learned from their parents or their grandparents. Often times crafts skips a generation, well within the contemporary spirits, like it’s our grandmothers that we learn things from rather than our mothers.

WILLIHNGANZ: Different generations of different needs and whatnot. You know the most fascinating basket that I encountered recently, I was looking through one of the books on crafts that I had been perusing and they had a one use basket, you pull a piece of bark off a tree, you throw this together, you can eat berries in it, you throw it away when you’re done. And I just thought I had never thought of a disposable basket.

ALVIC: Well see, you haven’t traveled in some parts of the world that I have.

WILLIHNGANZ: I say that’s true.

ALVIC: With disposable plates, we think of paper plates. A lot of places, it’s a banana leaf. It’s another type of leaf that becomes your plate and then you throw it away, you know, it’s a disposable. It’s a far better disposable because it’s organic and well, you know, decompose nicely in the soil than our paper or these Styrofoam plates that will live you know for eons. That yeah, for a lot of people that have materials, the idea of making a container.

WILLIHNGANZ: With as fascinating as this has been.

ALVIC: Oh, yeah, I know you’re going to have to go.

WILLIHNGANZ: Well I’ve got about fifteen minutes here maybe a half hour.

ALVIC: Oh, okay, well I want to flip through some of those pictures so you can have an idea of.


ALVIC: If you want to put in some historic things some that we mentioned.

WILLIHNGANZ: Sure, okay.

ALVIC: It’s just that oh see that big basket that’s on that black thing, actually the black thing is up. This one because talking about feeding into an Appalachian stereo type. The guys on the boat with the guns, yeah mountain men, early weaving at Berea College, very early twentieth century that they were organizing community women to be weavers. This is one of the first and longest managers of the weaving Anna Ernberg really expanded under her direction and here is Anna.

WILLIHNGANZ: Now this is all at Berea?

ALVIC: At Berea and then she built the log cabin that’s now the craft sales place in Berea.


ALVIC: That was for the weaving and for the sales of it and she went and raised all the money for that. And this was where the weaving is now in the log house behind that big craft sales one. They still do weaving in it, you can walk in, but they don’t have nearly these many looms, but gives you an idea of the craft. Oh this is when it was first built I think this was at the dedication in 1917, and these were open porches then and she had a residence for herself. She lived upstairs. Okay, oh this is, I love this! It’s a still!

WILLIHNGANZ: Ah good, another Kentucky craft.

ALVIC: Yeah, yeah. And they had a group at Berea called Mountain Weaver Boys and that was one of their craft sales and so those are the Mountain Weaver Boys. That was another manager your early pictures some of these aren’t in. Oh and this is the Ernberg loom. She designed a small loom and they made the loom at the College in woodworking and sold it. She got a five dollar royalty, but she didn’t charge the royalty to any weaving center that bought it. Oh and this was a weaving supervisor that was there for a long time too. But weaving was really one of the biggest of their craft areas and these were some of the things they produced. And did I ever give you any of my little booklets?

WILLIHNGANZ: I don’t think you did.

ALVIC: Well, we can do that because that’s the cover of one of my books. This is interesting. This is Berea College booth at the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago.


ALVIC: Yeah. Oh, I just love the history stuff, okay.


ALVIC: So I have pictures from all over but let’s see what this other Berea thing is. Oh, that’s early Churchill weavers.

WILLIHNGANZ: Oh wow! Yeah, that’s where I’m headed.

ALVIC: Yeah, well you’ll see that they built something on the front of it but that’s still there. Oh, yeah this is Penland okay. My husband did the labels so sometimes they’re. This is Churchill.

WILLIHNGANZ: For somebody who works in threads, you’re pretty handy with the computer.

ALVIC: It’s become. The Churchill loom and I’m re-photographing photographs in not what you call ideal conditions. It’s kind of point and hold your breath. And even in the archives at Berea, they let me photograph my own instead of paying them to do it.

WILLIHNGANZ: Wow! That’s great!

ALVIC: Oh, like my husband says, I’m good at the chatty stuff.

WILLIHNGANZ: Wow! Lucky you [unintelligible] the Louisville paper to try and get some pictures for the senator they wanted twenty dollars a picture. I thought I can’t do that.

ALVIC: This is Mrs. Churchill, Mr. & Mrs. Churchill a little bit better focused you know this is before digital cameras so I couldn’t, you know, I just had to take them and hope.


ALVIC: And this is from a magazine article about them. This is Churchill again. Let’s see I think I saw. Now these aren’t all the photographs I have, but these are the things that are digitized. Okay, this is Allen Eaton; he’s kind of the guru of the Appalachian Crafts Movement. He wrote a book called the Handicrafts of the Southern Highlands. It was published in 1937. It was about all of these centers, these crafts centers. And everybody loved him. Well anyway, this is our pictures taken at the John C. Campbell Center in Brasstown, North Carolina, but what’s significant about these is now starting, now their photographs taken by Doris Ulmann who is a famous photographer. And when Eaton was going to do this book, he was working at that time for the Russell Sage Foundation and Ulmann said, ‘I want to take the photographs for your book.’ And he said, ‘Wonderful, but Russell Sage can’t afford to pay your fee.’ And she said, ‘I’ll do it for free.’ And he said, ‘Wonderful, but I don’t think we can afford to publish them.’ She says, ‘I’ll help cover the cost.’ Okay, she took some wonderful pictures. Okay, this is it! This is Francis Goodrich she was one of the earliest people in the mountains to do crafts. She was a self-financed Presbyterian missionary. Louise Pitman, one of the early presidents of the Southern Highland Handicraft Guild. This is Olive Dame Campbell, John C. Campbell’s wife. He was long dead by that time. This is John Jacob Niles of music fame.

WILLIHNGANZ: Okay, I don’t know. I’m not familiar with the name but.

ALVIC: Okay. I’m going to educate you a little bit on the folk craft and.

WILLIHNGANZ: Unintelligible.

ALVIC: He, John Jacob Niles, is noted mostly in folk music, but as a young man, he worked as an assistant with Doris Ulmann when she was doing this photographing and he was carrying her equipment. And so this is Campbell again. Helen Dingman was professor at Berea College. She kept the Southern Highlands Guild afloat with some creative bookkeeping. This is Brasstown Carvers, the wooden things that they did. Yes, fun isn’t it. Mary Hambidge loved Greece, and so this is a recreation of some early Greek things that a friend of hers was involved with. But this is the Hambidge Center in the early weavers and this is Mary Hambidge not paying attention. Oh, and this is Mary Hambidge in her later years in the mountains. The weavers, they were young girls from the mountain area. This is Mary Hambidge and because they were young girls and she had them living on the property and so this was a retired school teacher from Kentucky that she had as kind of a house mother. That was Truman’s yacht. She did the fabrics for Truman’s yacht.


ALVIC: Yeah. Okay, but anyway I’ve got a variety of other, you know, there are historical pictures if you want to put in a few just to give. And well maybe my book is better for looking at that. There are some early pictures of that first guild fair in 1948.

WILLIHNGANZ: Oh, yeah, yeah good point.

ALVIC: So might the well, there were you know, an earlier fair and.

WILLIHNGANZ: Yeah. You know I don’t know yet where were going honestly with this documentary.

ALVIC: Well and the thing is since I just wrote the bylaws for, you know, we’re starting a separate organization here.


ALVIC: And I just wrote the bylaws for them and we’re working on getting this organization going. We’re thinking now that the important thing is to video-tape people before we have any more of them dying off. We’ve had one die off in this project already before we got to her. Okay, so to videotape as many people, in fact, they were talking about either trying to get people that are in other states that fit into the story, to get them here or to get you there. Anyway so there’s been talk about that. Okay. With this first grant we’re going towards the emphasis on Appalachia, so it’s how it’s fed into helping the people in Appalachia. But we’re thinking, and we now have, a person that has experience working with the public schools that has written things already for teachers in public schools on the arts in Kentucky.

WILLIHNGANZ: This is Judy Sizemore.

ALVIC: Yeah, Judy. And so she’s thinking well, we’ll do the Appalachia one for this grant and then we’ll do another grant for the rest of Kentucky. Well so then it would be important to get more information on those basketmakers that are down near the caves. I have a friend who has a master’s degree in folklore, that she and her husband have a company making basket supplies. And they have befriended all these old time basketmakers in the area.


ALVIC: And they situated down there in Scott County, [correction: Scottsville/Allen County] particularly to be near them. So that it’s a story when the point I was getting to, although, is that it’s not going to be a story that can be told in one shot that there might be several stories.

WILLIHNGANZ: Well that’s fine we just have to clearly define each one so that we know what we’re making in order to make that coherent.

ALVIC: Exactly.


ALVIC: And to have resources that can be pulled from many different places you know when one is concentrating on a particular one.


ALVIC: So at some point it’s getting you together with Judy. And again if we get you money to fulfill what the money says you’re supposed to do.

WILLIHNGANZ: Yeah, yeah that going to be the trick because we don’t really know what we’re going to do until after we know we’re going to do it and we can’t do that until we have the money.

ALVIC: Yeah.

WILLIHNGANZ: But we’ll just work that out.

ALVIC: I was trying to find some of the, you know, when you go looking for something. And some of these places had a better photographic archive than others.


ALVIC: And some of them like the one in Gatlinburg they’ve been adding to it. Oh, I don’t know that you got, I’m still not finding, perseverance. There is a website, I’ll send you the information on this, okay, that have been collecting things, the story of the craft the people, collection that has a little narrative. Okay, this says Craft Revival Carvers, okay, so a little bit on Brasstown Carvers. Anyway, they’re working on this in North Carolina and it’s a friend of mine that’s doing it. Oh, these are different carvers, that they, okay, it has the different craft areas of course, weaving that I’m interested in. It has all these pictures that you can then look at, that they’ve been doing and they got a grant through the libraries in North Carolina to do this. And a year ago, I talked to the one who is doing this about expanding to the other Appalachian states and she was definitely talking to people in Kentucky. And I just, when I got involved with this history project contacted her and I said, ‘Okay, what have you done about expanding?’ And she says, ‘My boss at the library is retiring so he won’t sign off on anything now. You know, he’s waiting for the new boss.’ And so she hasn’t been able to write any grants but to me, to hook in with, to what they’re doing and you know and she obviously has done a lot with collecting the old.

[End of Interview Part II]