This book was a birthday present from the New Yorkers (my son Will and his wife Eva).  It is an extraordinary book, a collection of articles researched by school kids in the late 1960s and first published in a Northeast Georgia school magazine.  This volume (and there are at least 10 more) concerns home life in The Appalachians and is full of first-hand stories of a life gone by with pictures diagrams and photographs.  It reminds me of The Whole Earth Catalogue vein of culture. It tells history in a much more immediate way somehow that some books on English country life which, while interesting and informative, seem to be more remote from the people who lived e.g. in The Yorkshire Dales as the information about the people is less and more about their skills and equipment (However, I was reading a fascinating account of oatbread making in Life and Tradition in The Yorkshire Dales by M Hartley and J Ingilby but that’s another story!).

Anyway in Foxfire amongst a lot of other fascinating things I’ve not had a chance to read as yet there’s a picture of Bill Lamb’s shave horse.  I think this is the most minimalist horse I’ve ever seen.

It was used for dressing shingles.

I thoroughly recommend at least this volume of Foxfire (which is the first one) and I will definitely be dipping in to volume 4 which appears to have a something on the pole lathe:

(By the way, I’m aware of the criminal problem with the editor in later years, but he has probably suffered enough over that)

And on that subject I can report that the Japanese style minimalist cleaving break works really well.  I’ll take a photo today of the one I’ve made from a sycamore log I’ve had lying around.

4 thoughts on “Foxfire

  1. Hi Richard,

    That series was an important contribution in America when it first came on the scene. Many of the people that you know of who are now veteran greenwood craftsman were soaking that information up. It dovetailed with a keen interest in the traditional music from the mountains. For me, personally, it was a great primer before spending time in places like Arkansas and Kentucky, helping me have a sense of the backgrounds of the people living in their rural homesteads. A much need antidote to the film “Easy Rider”.

  2. You can get the whole series as a free eBook from the Guttenburg project. I downloaded it a long time ago and dip in every now and then. It’s an interesting read.

    I had no idea about the criminal charges though! And to be honest I’d be happy for him to not stop suffering over it.

  3. cobweb if I understand you found the Foxfire books at the Guttenburg project. I was unable to locate them. What title did you find them under?

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