A couple weeks ago I traveled with a group from Western New York to Dover, Ohio, to visit a woodcarving museum. We had just passed the Fairview exit off Route 90 when we heard a loud noise.
I was seated on an aisle seat and could look out the front window. Some thought we had been shot at. Others thought that a tire blew on the bus. I knew it was a turkey that hit the front window because I saw it trying to climb in front of the bus.
Turkeys are not the most coordinated birds. They fly, but they are awkward. They wobble around as they attempt to gain altitude. This one was not fast enough to get out of the way. The windshield splintered, first in the upper corner but was soon filled with spidery lines. The bus driver was on the phone immediately to relay the message that a turkey hit us.
Within minutes we returned to Fairview for another bus. Everyone gathered their things and disembarked. We were on our way once again. When we arrived at the restaurant where we planned to eat lunch the driver was able to clean the glass out of his clothes. What do you suppose we had for lunch? Of course, we had turkey sandwiches!
The museum we visited was well worth our time. Ernest Warther was known worldwide for his carving ability. His exhibit on the history of trains was in Grand Central Station for a time period. It was also chronicled by the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.
Our guide was very knowledgeable. The first room at the museum was filled with arrowheads that Warther had collected. He displayed them in frames made into pictures such as a fish, a star and an Indian in full headdress.
It was on to the interior of the museum. Intricately carved models of trains were everywhere. There was also a case with an intricate carving of a steel mill where he had worked. This piece fascinated me because a mirror within the case allowed us to see how the moving pieces worked. A system of leather pulleys allowed for movement.
One of his grandsons was at the facility on the day we visited. He demonstrated for us how his grandfather carved a working set of small pliers from a single piece of wood with no shavings. He presented it to one of the ladies traveling with us. He told us that during the summer months he frequently carves as many as 50 of those a day to present to the children who were visiting.
When I got home my adventure was not to end. The next morning as I reported to a volunteer station I was talking about my trip when a gentleman mentioned that he had known "Ernie." This man lived in Ohio for a time and met Warther through the Boy Scouts. Warther gladly shared his carving ability with the youth who attended camp. This man even had a small pair of those pliers I mentioned and another piece of wood where he practiced carving a set of balls that moved inside of a rectangular piece of wood.
The next day the adventure continued as I visited the dentist. As I talked about my adventure the lady at the desk informed me that the man I met the day before was her uncle. What a small world this is.
As I thought about my adventures I realized that one thing that is missing in our world today is craftsmanship. People used to create beautiful works of art by hand. These works of art were priceless. They were things to be treasured. They were family heirlooms that were lovingly passed on.
Today we have a throwaway society. There are fewer works of art being produced by artisans. The emphasis on production today is on speed and on technology. Have we really advanced? In some areas we have made great strides while in others we have lost a great deal.
The gentleman that I talked to at my volunteer position is a craftsman. He canes chairs and makes beautiful baskets that are all handcrafted. I know of other artisans as well. Crafts are still being kept alive, but not all people appreciate them.
A few years ago we visited a craft museum in North Carolina filled with handcrafts made by local artisans. I purchased a dogwood necklace and earrings to remember that trip. I look for the things that are handmade. They represent many hours of work as well as real skill. The price is always more for handcrafted items but to me it is well worth it.
The fine art of quilting is still very popular. There are many ways to make quilts these day. Not all of them are hand pieced. They even have machines that quilt them for you if you do not want to complete it by hand.
I made one hand-pieced item and will probably not make any more. I made a wall hanging that was featured by HGTV. Although I took my inspiration from that project I completed a unique piece of my own choosing my fabrics carefully. There is a house, almost a cabin really, in each block. I made all of my own templates to the scale that I wanted my piece to be. My granddaughter and I had a wonderful time deciding what fabrics to use. We embellished some of the squares with special buttons. She was very proud to have been part of the project and still enjoys seeing it on my wall.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact at email@example.com.