|Title||Arval Woody, Chair Maker|
|Alt. Creator||Nora Woody|
|Alt Creator||Walter Woody|
|Arval Woody ; Nora Woody ; Walter Woody ; Arthur Woody ; Charles Woody ; Henry Woody ; James Marcus ; Richard Hollifield ; Appalachian Craft Shop ; Asheville, North Carolina ; Lucy Morgan ; Penland School of Crafts ; Spruce Pine, NC ; John F. Kennedy ; Roy Taylor ; furniture ; woodcraft ; chairs ; Terry Sanford ; Baxter Ollis ; Bea Hensley ; Mike Hensley ; David Williams ; Greg Williams ; Connie Stapleton ; Neal Brain Westveer ; James Hunt ; Mrs. Sam J. Huskins ; Mitchell County, NC ; C.E. Westveer ; Jim Strickland ; Fritz Young ; Bessie Woody ; Thornwell Orphanage ;|
Handicraft -- Appalachian region, Southern
Folk art--Appalachian Region, Southern.
Folk art--North Carolina.
Folk artists--North Carolina.
Southern Highlands Handicraft Guild.
Arts and crafts movement -- Appalachian Region, Southern
A collection of materials that detail the life and times of master wood
craftsman, Arval Woody, who lives in the Spruce Pine area of western North
Carolina. The craft, mostly centered on the production of ladder-back chairs
spans five generations of which Arval Woody is the last. Nominated as a North
Carolina Living Treasure, October 25, 1995, the many accolades and awards found
in the collection support that nomination and trace a life committed to craft of
the highest quality.
Items in the collection are foldered by decade, starting with the 1950's. They have been left in the general order in which they were received from the family. The donation is comprised of 7 folders, by decade, 1 miscellaneous folder, 1 record book, and 1 photograph album. Some video, digital photographs, and an oral history were taken by D.H. Ramsey Library Special Collections staff in November 2006, when the initial contact was made with Arval Woody. A later visit on December 21, 2006 yielded additional photographs of the operation of the wood-working shop, and these have been added to the collection.
|Publisher||D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804|
|Contributor||Harley Jolly, Professor Emeritus, Mars Hill College ; Helen Wykle, UNCA photographer|
|Date||Date of objects : 1940's - 2006 ; Date digital 2006-11-06|
|Type||Text ; Image ; Collection ; Realia|
1 large manuscript box
|Language||English ; eng|
|Relation||Woody's Cottages, Spruce Pine, NC, http://www.woodyscottages.com/aboutus.html ; UNC Chapel Hill, Manuscript Department, Wilson Library, Inventory of the Southern Highland Handicraft Guild Collection, 1993-1995, Collection Number 20372, http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/htm/20372.html. Collection contains interview material from Arval and his wife, Nora Woody, the woodworkers James Marcus, Ricky Hollifield, and Richard Hollifield, as they were interviewed by Georgia Weir in May and June of 1994 in Spruce Pine, NC. University of North Carolina at Wilmington, William Madison Randall Library, Oral Interview with Arval Woody by Sherman Hayes and Paul Zarbock, 11/05/2003, November 5, 2003.|
|Coverage||1950's - 2006 Spruce Pine, North Carolina ; Western North Carolina
Woody's Chair Shop
34 Dale Rd
Spruce Pine, NC , 28777-8536
|Rights||Any display, publication, or public use must credit the D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville, as the holding repository.|
|Citation||"Arval Woody, Chair Maker," , D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville|
|Processed by||Special Collections staff, 2006 ; Helen Wykle|
|Context|| In an application for the Oldest Family
Owned Business in Mitchell County the Woodys wrote the following:
|Biography|| Arval Woody was born near Spruce Pine, NC on
September 12, 1920. He was one of seven children -- five brothers and two
sisters. Arval was the youngest of the boys. His family was in the lumber
business, particularly the manufacture of cross-ties for the railway and
his father also ran a general store in Spruce Pine. Arval comes from a
family of chair-makers. His grandfather, Arthur Woody was an influence on
his work and Authur Woody learned his craft from his father Henry Woody
and Henry learned from his father, White Woody. According to the local
family lore, the name "Woody" was given to the family because they were
integrally involved in wood-craft. In the oral history taken by Sherman
Hayes in 2003 for the craft files at UNC Wilmington, Arval notes that he
has been told that the family name is possibly "Anderson." A picture of
the the Woody furniture shop run by Arval's grandfather, which stood not far
from the current shop, shows a rambling building with a water-wheel that
Arval noted was used to power tools used in the furniture-making and
Arval Woody's early work included a job as a caddy for a local golf-course. He then turned to construction work and worked briefly in Spartanburg, helping to build Camp Cross, a military camp. As WWII progressed, he was drafted and went to join the forces in Europe. While at Cambridge, England he was trained at Cambridge University on how to measure lumber and other associated tasks. While in Germany at the end of the war, he constructed bridges from lumber from the Black Forest. At the end of the War he returned to Spruce Pine where he was hired as a teacher, a job he held for seven years. Though he had no college degree, the time at Cambridge and his basic skills qualified him for the position. While he taught, he constructed the current shop to serve as a grocery and wood-working shop. His sister ran the grocery and his brother, the craft shop. According to Arval, he and his brothers produced some 3000 unfinished and unseated chairs a year in the shop, in maple, oak, cherry, walnut, and ash harvested from the forests of the area. In the some 40 years that he has been producing chairs, Arval has had a back-log of orders. His customers represent most of the States and abroad. He became one of the first members of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, a prestigious membership that only allows the most consummate artisans into the Guild.
When Arval's brothers retired he continued to produce chairs, but also turned to producing small wooden crafts, bowls, chop boards, book-marks and other wood products, including animal caskets. To do this he used his wood waste, the end pieces and waste wood from the chair-making operation. The craft of chair-making in the family used no nails or glue. All joins were made using the natural properties of the wood, as it dries and strengthens. The chair rounds even today are a tight fit. Also, today, Woody's Chair Shop crafts the entire chair. The seats are created with a new paper product, Craftcore, from Grand Rapids, Michigan and woven into seats by local women in the Spruce Pine area.
Until her death in November 2006, Arval's wife, Nora, managed the office of the Chair Shop. The volume of business was great and filling orders quickly was often a challenge. The chairs, however, were worth the wait. The quality and reputation of Woody's chairs is nationally known. In 1952 through a connection with Terry Sanford, then the Governor of North Carolina, Woody's chairs went to the White House. Arval was asked by Sanford to craft. chairs for the John F. Kennedy children, Caroline and John, Jr.. These beautiful children's chairs were a part of the Kennedy family furniture during their last years in the White House.
Arval Woody's work has been exhibited in the American Craft Museum in New York and in the Smithsonian in Washington. It is not only the objects of craft that Arval has contributed. The records of his life, included in this collection, detail a life-time as a teacher and mentor to others who share a love of wood and a deep responsibility to civic contribution. The evidence of Arval's careful teaching can be found in wood crafts throughout western North Carolina and in the lives of many of the students who worked with him or benefited from his training. Those who know him continue to speak of his wood mastery with some awe and enormous respect.
|Folder 1 - 1950's|
|Folder 2 -1960's|
|Folder 3 - 1970's|
|Folder 4 - 1980's|
|Folder 5 - 1990's|
|Folder 6 - 2000's|
|Folder 7 - Oral History and Video Interview, completed by Ramsey Library staff|
|Folder 8 - Misc. Items and Shop Records|
|Folder 9 -Photographs and Photograph Album|
|Folder 10 - Photographs, tape recording, completed by D.H. Ramsey Library staff|