Pocahontas County Artisans’ Co-op Helps Local Artisans
To learn more about the Pocahontas County Artisans’ Co-op, we recently interviewed two artisans affiliated with it. They are husband and wife; Woody and Brenda Harman. Woody, who was a founding member of the Co-op, is a skilled artistic Blacksmith, while Brenda is an artistic traditional broom maker. Both are very involved in the Co-op. Brenda explained that the Artisans’ Co-op is a non-profit organization located in Marlinton, but consists of artists throughout the County.
Brenda describes some of the products created by their artisans.
“We have a pretty big range” said Brenda. “From fine art, crafts, and craft food items –we have honey, herbal teas, maple syrup. There are fine artists who do paintings. We have furniture makers (and) photographers. We have someone who does stone carving, and we have handmade books and journals, quilts, a lot of fabric items such as coasters and hot pads, silk scarves –hand dyed silk. We have a lot of wood products such as cutting boards. We have furniture from granny cupboards to carved benches to sit on. We also have the wooden crosses that are made out of driftwood from two gals originally from Louisiana that live here. There’s quite a variety of artisans in our organization.”
Brenda gives us an idea about how the Artisans’ Co-op helps local artisans.
“The Co-op was started in 2007” said Brenda. “One of the original ideas behind the Co-op was to create a low cost gallery space where they could present their artwork to the public, display it and sell.”
And the Co-op has several galleries where Artisans can sell their creations, as Brenda explains.
“Currently we have the 4th Ave. Gallery which is right across from the Depot in Marlinton which is open year round” said Brenda. “We have two seasonal galleries. One is open now at Silver Creek. The other gallery is the Shoppes at Leatherback Ford. It is open during train season at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park.”
One of the missions of the Co-op is to give the public the opportunity to watch the artisans create their products and to interact with the artisans.
“We try to participate in a lot of local events so that we demonstrate and to engage the public, especially the children” said Brenda. “If someone comes in to the galleries, they are actually speaking to one of the artisans who is clerking that day. We all take turns to volunteer to clerk once a month. “
Brenda says that the galleries hold unique treasures for their customers.
“The Co-op galleries provide a place for someone to go and buy something that is handmade” Brenda said. “And it kind of gives the impression that the person giving the gift has thought of the person receiving the gift and handpicked something for them.”
Woody talks a little about his work as a Blacksmith and about Brenda’s work as a Broom Maker. Woody.
“In the Ironwork that I do, I go from fireplace sets to hoof picks to clean your horse’s feet out with” said Woody. “With Brenda’s brooms, she’s got handled brooms for sweeping, hearth brooms, cob-webbers is another one that’s a favorite, than you get into turkey wind brushes .”
Brenda added that she also makes a mushroom brush.
Woody also talked about the Corner Oak Project where he plans to re-create out of metal the historic White Oak trees that once stood near present day Mitchells Chevrolet. Woody.
“They were the first survey marker west of the Allegheny mountain range in the United States” said Woody. “One tree got cut down in the 20’s and the other died off during the draught of the 30’s. I’ll try to re-create it in scale, probably a quarter or third size which would still put it about 20-25 feet tall.”
So, it is good to know that there is an organization that helps local artisans to succeed as small businesses while providing the public with the opportunity to experience artisans at work and with unique handmade products.