CSA Traditional Artists
David Ammons—Chair Caner
Linda Owen Vinson—Storyteller, Author, Demonstrator
Listed in the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Traditional Artist Directory.
Go to: http://www.blueridgeheritage.com/node/695
By David F. Ammons, Caner
Grandpa Ammons made his own chairs. I watched in awe as a child as he wove his magic after carefully framing the chair piece by piece. I often wonder now why I didn’t ask him to teach me when I was that 8-year-old watching. I just sat there drinking in each movement of his strong, yet gentle, hands. All of this came back to me in 1975 when I sat looking at one of Grandpa’s chairs. I told my wife, Sherilyn, that I thought I could recreate Grandpa’s movements that I remembered so well. I got an old chair frame and some split oak splints and the rest is history.
Caning comes in many disguises, but all of it is weaving. I watched Grandpa do only the herringbone weave from white oak splints. However, there are many forms of weaving...wicker, rush, splint, shaker tape, rawhide, Danish cord, binder cane, and the 7-step method hand caning. Caning dates fest4back to before 4000 B. C., I have learned, and is still popular in most households today. Someone wise once said that the hands and mind of the caner work together to join the past with the present.
The 7-step method is the predominant pattern used in hand caning. It forms a strong, yet flexible, seat that will last many years.
Splint weaving is the most common method of caning in the Appalachian Mountains. Splints were originally hand split from white oak, hickory, or ash. The homemade chair maker would often split his own splints with which to weave (or as Grandpa used to say, "bottom") a chair. Splints were easy to weave and made of the same material as the chair. They were found around the home making it affordable for the mountain craftsman to make his own necessary furniture. We don’t have to make our own "necessary furniture" today, but I truly enjoy thinking about the history behind caning as I sit down in front of someone’s old chair weaving a new "bottom" for it. If old chairs could talk, what stories they could tell!
David Ammons, brother of Amy & Doreyl, has been demonstrating at festivals for many years. In 2011, he will be at the Patchwork Folk & Fabric Festival in Cullowhee, NC on June 4, at the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad RAILFEST Mountain Craft Fair in Bryson City, NC September 17 & 18. You can find him many weekends, caning at the Biltmore House in Asheville, where he shares his talents and his heritage with
If interested in getting an estimate on caning your special chairs, you can contact David by giving him a call at 864-244-6904 or email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Linda Owen Vinson
Storyteller, Author, Demonstrator
Linda Owen Vinson, author of “A Pinch from the Little Brown Jar,”a storytelling mountain cookbook, has a lifelong history of cooking, making jars of homemade can goods, and sewing . Linda grew up loving to cook, to preserve and to sew. At festivals and bazaars, she sometimes demonstrates a Singer industrial treadle sewing machine, passed down to her from her grandmother Retter Jane Coggins Ammons.
Linda is the author of “A Pinch from the Little Brown Jar,”a storytelling mountain cookbook, where she reminises about learning to cook in her grandmother's kitchen, and how she raised her three boys on little or no income, utilizing her ability as a cook to keep them fed. The book is a real boon for single mothers.
Using her imagination raising her children, Linda also came up with many stories to brighten each day. One of these she has now turned into a children's book for Christmas—”Christmas Blueberry Muffins & Elixir.” Destined to be a classic, the story is of Christy Angel, a redheaded little girl who loved blueberry muffins. Christy eventually meets Sandy Claus, a coo-coo clock repairman. There is a little Christmas Magic, and...ah, but you have to read the book to find out how the story ends.
Author Linda Owen Vinson comes straight from her heart when she’s telling stories. She has played Mrs. Claus for many years, and each time brings smiles to the faces of those in her audience. Within the pages of “Christmas Blueberry Muffins & Elixir” is her first Christmas story . . . a tale of Christmas wishes that collide and produce a wonderful, delightful array of love and laughter.
The colorful book is fully illustrated by Doreyl Ammons Cain, a renown book illustrator from Western North Carolina. Published by Catch the Spirit of Appalachia, both books are available online at CSAbooks.com
Note: Linda is a "double-first cousin" of the Ammons Sisters, Amy & Doreyl. She has worked with the sisters in their endeavors to honor and preserve the mountain heritage of their families. She many times teams up with the sisters' brother, David, demonstrating alongside him as he canes chairs at festivals and other events. Here, they all are as children trying to sit in Grandpa’s lap. l-r: Linda, Amy, David, and Doreyl.