Back in 2008, I discovered a new doll in Tennessee. Not a factory made doll, turned out by the thousands, but one by one slowly but surely. One of a kind even.
I first stumbled on the Coalition for the Appalachia Ministry or CAM in 2003 during my second trip to ChristyFest in 2003, purely by “accident”. Judy and Betty were running the cabin back then and explained the inception of the ministry founded by the Presbyterian church’s, with the intent of helping mountain craftsmen get their crafts to market for sales. The cabin became a sort of consignment store where the craftsmen actually receive the asking price in full. For most of the craftsmen, it was/is the only place where they will take their goods but also their sole means of support. The two CAM ladies’ enthusiasm for the ministry was contagious as I rushed back to the next CF event and shared my find.
I had purchased hand-woven placemats that afternoon and used them later in my presentation about the “Arts and Crafts of Christy”, and CAM was an instant hit! The next year’s festival featured the CAM crafts. And the next year. And, now, we just send our Crispy Critters (aka CF attendees) up to the cabin. By the droves.
That brings us back to the dolls. I was in Townsend in 2008 for ChristyFest, once more visiting the CAM cabin and they had some new little teensy hickory nut dolls of which I was destined to own at least one? The dolls heads were hickory nuts and were dressed as egg sellers or new mamas with baby in tow or a full nativity set. The facial features are meticulously painted on and their dresses sewn on by hand. Painted on hair adorns the heads and each carries a basket of eggs or a blanketed infant or maybe a jar of honey for the beekeeping lady to hold in her hand…all made by Elly Davey from North Carolina. Wonderful details on unusual and authentic Appalachian crafts!
And so…my collection has grown. I got to wondering about the hickory nuts though. What did a hickory tree look like? For that matter, did a hickory nut look anything like a pecan? Did they have shells like a pecan? And would a hickory tree grow in my back yard?
Big Boss and I went on a trip to Tennessee two springs ago. Every stop we made, I’d ask, “Any hickory trees here?” Sadly they didn’t know or they had them but not right there. I worked my way though the Appalachians in search of a hickory tree.
Anyway, I planted my new tree, sure I would soon be harvesting my very own hickory nuts and watched as it thrived but didn’t seem to get any taller…a mystery until I caught our resident deer munching on the fresh, tender, green sprouts at the top of the center branch. Mystery solved. As my blood pressure rose. Have I mentioned how much I detest them critters?
But…last Saturday, we toured the Museum of the Appalachia in Clinton, TN, where some “Christy” series props are housed. As I wandered around the grounds, I saw some marble-sized objects on the ground under a tree. Could these be the elusive hickory nuts? I whipped out my iPad, googled “hickory nuts” and sure nuff, hickory nuts were at long last in my hands! Which means that maybe I can make my very own dolls, with emphasis on the maybe!
No, it doesn’t take much to make me happy. 🙂
ok just one more. Hickory leaves on a hickory tree. Cool huh?