Folk Art

Still Going Strong

The earliest head coverings were probably
animal skins and were used primarily for
warmth, rather than style. Over the millennia,
however, women’s hats have reflected
contemporary fashions, as well as the hairdos
that were in vogue. During Greek and Roman
times, women’s headwear included headdresses
made of metal and ribbons intertwined in
elaborate coiffeurs. In more modern times,
women’s hats have gone in and out of style,
but there has always remained a niche for
milliners to create and modify women’s hats.

A Family History Quilt

I was raised in a small community called West Mountain, in the southern Adirondacks of New York. Family and friends all lived near one another, giving me a great out-of-the-way place to grow up. I am a third-generation quilter and fourth-generation seamstress. My grandmother, Viola White LaPier, taught me at a very early age how to make crazy quilts. I remember at age five or six going to my uncles’ lumber camp. While she cooked meals for the lumbermen, I would sit next to the wood stove stringing quilt triangles that she had cut out of old, worn wool pants. My great grandmother, Fanny Newton White, made the family’s clothing by hand, without the aid of a modern-day pattern. She could cut out and construct a dress just by looking at another one. I’m fortunate to have inherited some of those skills.

Bob Hockert’s All-New York Whiskey Barrels

I explained that I built the barrel
myself, and he promptly explained I
could not have, as there were no coopers
in New York State. I explained that he
was wrong, that I had built it and dozens
more, sent him to my web page to see the
photos of them being built, etc.
…,His name was Angus
McDonald, and he was the master distiller
at Coppersea Distilling. He had been
looking for years for someone to build
him barrels for his distillery.

Redwork Embroidery and the Suffragist Tea Cozy Project

The focus on suffragists from upstate
New York was a conscious decision that I
made, based on my own research and desire
to highlight lesser known people within the
movement. I was inspired to put faces to
the over 70 names I had uncovered in meeting
notices and articles in Warren County
newspapers by creating embroidered portraits
of suffragists throughout New York
State. So far, I have embroidered six Warren
County women.

From the Waterfront

Over the years, I have met some amazing photographers and artists who, like myself, are captivated with the South Shore bay houses of Long Island. One of those people was artist Dan Pollera, who passed away in March 2022….Another artist who we admire is Kathy Herzy of West Islip, who has painted numerous scenes of traditional maritime activities, including clamming, birdwatching, waterfowl scenes, and traditional boats and fish houses.

Portrait of an Artist: Ellen Fjermedal

It was in my fingers!” Ellen Fjermedal explained. Ellen, a demure, but determined and spry elder, started drawing when she was a child in Arendal, on the south coast of Norway. Now living in Victor, New York, she has a studio and display area at home where she paints rosemaling (Norwegian) or kurbits (Swedish) decorations.

May Baskets

Come springtime, generations of children in the greater Glens Falls area spent weeks making May Baskets to distribute to friends and neighbors on the first of May….The custom traveled to America, noted in the late 19th century by Lina and Adelia Beard in their 1887 book, The American Girls Handy Book: ‘A May-day custom, and a very pretty one, still survives among the children in our New England States. It is that of hanging upon the door-knobs of friends and neighbors pretty spring-offerings in the shapeof small baskets filled with flowers, wild ones, if they can be obtained; if not, the window-gardens at home are heavily taxed to supply the deficiency.’

From the Editor

John Michael Vlach (1948–2022) served as the Director of the Folklife Program at George Washington University (GWU) for over 32 years. He was a giant in the field, a Fellow of the American Folklore Society, a leading expert on folklife, folk arts and craft, vernacular architecture, and cultural history …

From the Director

With an expanded and competent staff, New York Folklore
has experienced increased activity within the
greater Capital Region, including the inauguration
of the Mohawk Hudson Folklife Festival in
Albany’s Washington Park. In addition, NYF is
experiencing a resurgence of activity in folk arts
education, much of which involves partnerships…

NYFS News and Notes

NYFS hosts the Folk Arts Roundtable December 2-4, 2014, in Troy. NYFS presents two separate traveling exhibitions: “Farm and Field: The Rural Folk Arts of the Catskill Region” and “Stable Views: Voices and Stories from the Thoroughbred Racetrack.”

Reimagining Irish Lace in Western New York

“(Re-)Making Irish Lace” attempted to understand how a particular art form has been interpreted by different groups of people, locally and abroad, for nearly 200 years, comparing past and recent practice…how the unfurling story of Irish lace is playing out in the daily lives of Buffalonians.

Artist Spotlight

George A. Olsen, Jr., practices the art of wood turning to craft tools, including rolling pins, spatulas, and pepper mills.

Drawing the Line

Throughout history humans have responded
to a profound need to translate the experience of life into marks, signs, and
symbols onto an infinitely varied number
surfaces, using an equally varied number
of tools and materials, ranging from compressed
charcoal on a cave wall to a rod
of gold on specially coated parchment.
The medium of drawing has chronicled
the history of humankind—a rich and varied tapestry comprised of countless
interwoven threads, each one bearing the
mark of an individual in relation to a series
of larger wholes. For the novice, the
act of drawing can prove irresistible: give
someone a pencil and a sheet of blank paper,
and they will likely leave their “mark.”
For the accomplished draftsman, drawing provides the satisfying experience not only
of exercising a well-honed skill, but also of
giving eloquent form to a vision.

Artist Spotlight: Noah Khoury

Artist Spotlight: Noah Khoury

Noah Khoury is  a second generation blacksmith, as his father was a blacksmith and a welder.  In his teenage years, he worked alongside his father,  teaching middle-school aged youth at a summer workshop program in Altamont, NY called the Helderberg Workshops.  After...