Other Folk Crafts

Warren was interested in many crafts, but the following deserve special mention here: blacksmithing, broom-making, rock-fence building, and wood-carving. Each of these was present in southern Indiana, and each drew the attention of Warren and his students.


Courtesy of Patricia Glushko


"Another point on the crafts in general concerns the individual—the farmer—as his own craftsman. For practically every craft to be enumerated below there were specialized craftsmen, such as blacksmiths, coopers, wheelwrights, and so on, but many farmers had the ability and the tools to carry on to some extent these specialized crafts themselves. The situation varied a great deal from individual to individual, but many farmers could make simple items from metal, wood, and leather, or repair broken or worn items without requiring the services of a specialized craftsman, and it is likely that a farmer with the tools and a special ability in a craft such as blacksmithing would assist his neighbors even though it remained s sideline with him and he never became a specialist. At the same time, craftsmen were usually part-time farmers who had some land on which they grew crops and raised animals, devoting their time to their own farm when they could. Hence it is difficult to draw a hard and fast line between the farmer and the specialized craftsman. The specialized craftsman, however, devoted much more time to his craft and derived a significant amount of his income from it in comparison to the average farmer."

Warren Roberts

Warren on blacksmithing:

"I can talk by the hour to a blacksmith about the tools he uses and why he can do certain things with wrought iron and other things with steel. I have no need to try to explain to him what folklife research is. All I have to do is tell him that I am interested in blacksmithing and that is enough."

“The Folklife Approach to Textiles,” in Viewpoints, 23.