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.
by Helen McKinney
Morgan in his workshop.
Morgan grew up in Sligo, Ky., surrounded by the Bluegrass States
farming heritage. Always interested in farming, he didnt 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. Its 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,
by Helen McKinney
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
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 artists name. The gold plate also contains Morgans
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.
Morgans 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 Morgans 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 Cooks 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
years bazaar. Designs include turned wood pieces, many hand-painted
Christmas tree balls and even Santas 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,
For more information on the holiday bazaar, call Garrison
at (502) 845-2811. For more information on Morgans craft, call
him at (502) 845-2482.