Henry County Extension Show

Area quilt makers find
fascination in hobby

Many quilts reflect family heritage, artistic touch

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

CARROLLTON, Ky. (November 2003) – Henry County Arts and Crafts Guild member Clyde Morgan puts a new twist on a traditional Kentucky staple. He creates artwork from tobacco.

Clyde Morgan

Photo by Helen McKinney

Clyde Morgan in his workshop.

Morgan grew up in Sligo, Ky., surrounded by the Bluegrass State’s farming heritage. Always interested in farming, he didn’t begin farming fulltime until 27 years ago at the age of 32.
He now raises 1.5 acres of tobacco from which he crafts his original tobacco artwork. He credits his brother, Lee, with giving him the idea for this unique craft.
Morgan said his brother, who lives in Philadelphia, always liked to get a hand of tobacco whenever he visited Kentucky. “He liked the smell,” said Morgan. So he “decided to make my brother a picture” out of the tobacco.
Morgan is one of many guild members who will exhibit their work at the 11th annual Henry County Extension Holiday Bazaar. It will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, at the Henry County Fairgrounds on Hwy 421.
Extension agent MaryEllen Garrison said this annual bazaar is a “service to the community and assists with the economic development of the county. It’s a great opportunity for local groups to raise funds.”
The bazaar has grown steadily over the years, with many of the crafters returning each year. Garrison said that within two days she had enough crafters requesting booth space to fill all available booths. Morgan is a participant who has created “a business out of a hobby,” he said.

Morgan with art

Photo by Helen McKinney

Clyde Morgan with samples.

At the end of a long day of stripping tobacco, Morgan recalled having twisted a leaf of burley until he had shaped it into a heart design.
“After I finished stripping that winter, I started making frames,” he said. Morgan purchases wood from a Louisville lumber company to craft oak frames for his creations. He said of his craft, “Farmers like it.”
Each shadowbox type piece contains several miniature tobacco twist shapes: a heart in the center, a bale of tobacco, a regular twist and a circular twist. Morgan often incorporates a miniature tomahawk, spear and tractor, all necessary tools of the trade.
The twists are glued onto a green felt background. A small gold plate is placed on the bottom of the frame stating the name of the recipient, year and artist’s name. The gold plate also contains Morgan’s motto: “Tobacco-the heart of Kentucky.”
He said it takes approximately 16 hours to complete one of these pieces. After shaping the twists, the tobacco dries and retains its shape. Morgan said he enjoys what he does and finds it a great way to preserve history; especially since tobacco farming is fast becoming a thing of the past.
In the beginning, Morgan made one or two framed collections and gave them away to people he felt would appreciate the artwork. His reputation grew quickly so that he had to start taking orders and charging a price for his collections. The shadow boxes come in three different sizes and prices: small, $80; medium, $115; and large, $135. Tax must be added to all box prices.
Morgan’s skill is not limited to burley. He builds and restores furniture also. His skill even extends to chair caning, a skill he taught himself when his wife, Brenda, asked him to restore a chair that once belonged to her great grandfather.
Guild president Saundra Smith said Morgan’s work is “very unique and original.” He is one of an average of 15 members that participate in this event.
The Guild will raffle off a 31/2 foot artificial Christmas tree decorated with handmade ornaments. Tickets may be purchased for $1 each or 6 for $5 at both Cook’s Pharmacy locations in Eminence and Campbellsburg. The drawing will be held before Thanksgiving.
Smith said there was a great demand for handmade ornaments at last year’s bazaar. Designs include turned wood pieces, many hand-painted Christmas tree balls and even Santa’s with knitted woolen beards. “They are really beautiful,” she said.
Garrison said the bazaar was started by a former extension council member who felt the need for an outlet for local arts and crafts, in addition to providing a good fundraising activity for the homemakers.
“It is a good way to keep local holiday dollars here in the county,” she said.

• For more information on the holiday bazaar, call Garrison at (502) 845-2811. For more information on Morgan’s craft, call him at (502) 845-2482.



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