Mission accomplished!

Little hickory nut dolls, all lined up in a row…found at the CAM cabin store through the last 10 years. from my stash

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.

This year’s purchase, The Healer-from my stash

A profile shot so you can see the pointy nose aka the end of the hickory nut-from my stash

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.

A handwoven placemat from the CAM cabin-from my stash

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?

Sad, sad little tree. See the center chewed-down branch? But it’s hanging in there! from my stash

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. 🙂

Lucy and hickory trees

a hickory nut on the ground-getting sleepy?

a hickory nut on the ground…getting sleepy?

More hickory nuts. Bored yet? I have more. Dare me?

 ok just one more. Hickory leaves on a hickory tree. Cool huh?

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16 Responses to Mission accomplished!

  1. John Smith says:

    You make us happy with your stories…! Thanks!

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  2. servetus says:

    My grandparents had hickory trees and saved the nuts. You can use the nuts in a pie more or less the same way as a pecan. Years since I’ve had one but we used to have them every year at Thanksgiving and Xmas.

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  3. The Queen says:

    Ahhh, so the question is…do you shell them like a pecan. And how does the taste compare?

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  4. marilyn says:

    Make me a hickory nut doll, purty please! You wouldn’t turn down your best Iowa pal, would you? Grin

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    • The Queen says:

      well you DO need a Ruby Mae to keep your Shellie company don’t you?!! There are those who might say ANOTHER craft to master?!!! Who said anything about mastering it. I just want to try it. Updates to follow! 🙂

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  5. A Scattering says:

    The dolls look precious! The CAM Cabin was lucky to find you as their ‘booster’.

    Like

  6. alfagetti says:

    Sweet story, Debbie. The Cam Cabin Craft site is under construction but I’m curious to see their goodies. I”ll have to check back. I also enjoyed looking at the Museum crafts. Everything so lovely and reasonably priced. What a nice little “find”

    I can’t wait to see how your own dolls are going to turn out!

    Like

  7. heartfelt says:

    The dolls are so quaint! You are a great collector of interesting artifacts of bygone-days, Debbie. I’m going to ask Dan why we don’t sell hickory trees!

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  8. ELLY DAVEY says:

    ELLY DAVEY SAYS THAT THERE ARE ABOUT 140 DIFFERENT KIINDS OF HICKORY NUTS. THE KIIND I MAKE THE FOLK FIGURES FROM IS A PIG NUT OR BITTER NUT. THE HULLS ARE THIN AND SO ARE THE SHELLS. ALSO, THEY ARE THE ONES WITH THE POINTY NOSES. THE EDIBLE HICKORY NUTS DON’T HAVE POINTY NOSES AND THE SHELLS ARE WAY TOO THICK AND HARD TO BORE A HOLE IN FOR THE NECK WIRES. GOOD LUCK FINDING THE RIGHT KIND OF NUTS FOR MAKING FOLK FIGURES.

    QUESTION: WERE YOU GIVEN A STORY SHEET WITH YOUR FIGURES: THE ART ISN’T COMPLETE WITHOUT IT. I NOW HAVE 21 FIGURES WITH DIFFERENT TITLES AND STORIES.

    POINT OF INTEREST: THE BEAUTIFUL PICTURES OF THE FIGURE YOU CALL “THE HEALER” ARE ACTUALLY PICTURES OF MARY CHICKADEE, THE CHEROKEE WOMAN. CHECK THE LEGS OF YOUR FIGURES MY WORK IS TITLED, SIGNED AND DATED ON THE PANTALOONS OF EACH FIGURE.

    THANKS FOR ALL THE PROMOTION FOR CAM AND ITS CRAFTERS.

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    • The Queen says:

      Yes m’am, I have the sheet…not sure how or why I called her the Healer as her pantaloons clearly say Mary Chickadee! Thanks! Love hearing from you and I need to get back to TN to get another doll, altho I heard you were retiring???

      Like

    • Andrea says:

      Ms. Davey, Do you have a pattern or instructions on how you make your dolls? I’d like to try my hand at a few as we’ve never known of dolls made with hickory nuts, and they are adorable. We have hickory trees, so nuts are plentiful, and I have boys who like to use power tools. I just can’t figure out how to attach the head to the body or what gives the body structure. Thank you!

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  9. Julie says:

    I love your collection! I too have fell in love with these dolls and so far I have 3!

    Like

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