I have made my life in the Appalachian mountains . . . where the crafts and music abound naturally. Mountain people all seem to have a gift of using their hands, many learning from family members or neighbors. in keeping with this tradition, I too learned from friends and family and then moved to the mountain region.
While learning layout and design through the application of quilt making, I felt that the two crafts could be closely connected. My desire to learn wood and paints began the study and discovery of my process that is used today.
By studying the past history of the game board craft I began to draw upon the "old ways", keeping with simplicity to the eye with the intention of use . . . designs are then kept simple, with many of the colors inspired by my natural surroundings. Many of the pieces original designs date back to the 1800's, and I have combined this with my original style to create a very unique and warm piece - combining the past with the present.
Using no electricity to create each piece, the high demand for my game boards pushed me to learn the use of modern tools, with the skills of a craftsman I am able to keep the integrity of a handcrafted object and was given the honor by Early American Life as being selected as one of America's Best and listed in the Directory of Traditional American Crafts, which is highly sought after by artists.
Each piece created goes through a 9-step process that takes approximately three weeks to complete. And then is left to dry in the mountain sun to build a hardened finish.
My work has been shown numerous times in small publications and national publications including Home Magazine, Old House Interiors, Southern Living, Early American Life, Country Living, Cottages & Bungalows and American Farmhouse, as well as, appearing on Mary Emmerlings 'Country at Home.' After many years with Sundance Catalog as well as the J.Peterman catalog, what quickly became a highly sought after collection could be found in galleries and fine retail stores throughout the United States, Europe and Canada including the American Folk Art Museum in New York.
in 2007 I was hand chosen as the 29th Guild member by Country Living Magazine. The Guild assigns this prestigious honor to American Artists that are keeping Americas past crafts alive. In 2009 I was given the honor as One of America's Best for Traditional American Crafts by Early American Life. Currently my work is being added to sets for both television and film. The Walking Dead, has featured the Chinese Checker Board for several years and Warner Brothers picked up a grouping for the Justice League movie sets.
After the many years of amazing growth and national recognition I made the move with my folk art to downsize, no longer being carried in retail stores (but forever grateful), but working with clients one on one directly through my studio. As I simplified my life to raise a family, I found that the creation of art is what I love, piece by piece and to be able to do that, you need time. Time to create. With that came the obvious; less and less pieces are being created each year, in turn making each and every game board collected becoming more valuable in the future. My hope is to create pieces that are passed down generation to generation, a treasure loved by many.
The American Folk Art Museum is an art museum in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, at 2, Lincoln Square, Columbus Avenue at 66th Street. It is the premier institution devoted to the aesthetic appreciation of folk art and creative expressions of contemporary self-taught artists from the United States and abroad.
Many of my game boards are currently available for your purchase through the American Folk Art Museums Gift Shop in NY. If you are looking for a design that has been retired, certainly check with them to see if it's available.