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Appalachian artways series takes up flint knapping and whittling

Sue Guinn Legg • May 3, 2018 at 8:46 PM

UNICOI — The Tanasi Arts & Heritage Center’s Functional Artways of Appalachia series will continue with a free Flint Knapping and Wood Whittling Workshop on Saturday, May 12, at the Unicoi Visitors and Tourists Information Center.

Led by local artisans Bob Estep and Ross Woodby, the workshop is the 11th in a yearlong series funded by the National Endowment for the Arts to explore arts of the Appalachian region that are both beautiful and useful.

A resident of Roan Mountain, Estep has been flint knapping for 24 years and has studied with many teachers in the field of primitive technology.

He will be demonstrating the most common techniques of flint knapping as well as the art making Abo knapping tools from stone and antlers.

A student of Stone Age cultures around the world with a particular interest in ancient people of the local region, Estep enjoys making stone tools as a way to keep in touch with his Stone Age heritage.

“We are all proof that the Stone Age was a success,” Estep said.

Wood whittling artist Ross Woodby will be demonstrating the craft handed down to him by his father, a craft he has practiced since he was a child growing up in Carter County.

Woodby recalls spending his school recess periods whittling and over the years has enjoyed giving many of his wooden works of art away to children and to nursing home residents.

He will be carving and chiseling various types of wood into trees, flowers and other ornamental objects throughout the May 12 workshop.

The Unicoi Visitors and Tourist Information Center is located at 106 Unicoi Village Place, just off Exit 32 of Interstate 26. Workshop hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Light refreshments will be provided.

Pre-registration is recommended but not required and may be completed at www.tanasiarts.org. Assistance with hearing or vision impairments or Spanish language translation may be obtained by request on the registration form.

Volunteers with an interest in flint knapping or wood carving as well as those who just want to help out are also encouraged to sign up at the website.

More information about the the workshop, the Functional Artways of Appalachia series and the Tanasi Arts and Heritage Center may be found on the website or by email to tanasiarts@gmail.com.

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