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Monday, February 22, 2010

OLD FOLK ART WHIRLY

WHIRLY HANGING AS IT WOULD HAVE HUNG ON A PORCH AT ONE TIME
Recently a new friend, that I've met since moving to Kentucky a little over two years ago, surprised me with a great gift as she knew that I liked folk art. I liked a particular folk piece that she owned and she just up and gave it to me. What a kind and generous gesture. I thought I would put it on a post as it has a bit on history. Karen, my new friend, is a native Kentuckian and can tell stories about Kentucky folks that are intriguing.

WHIRLY LAYING HORIZONTALLY ON MY WORKTABLE DETAILING ITS SPIRAL
When she was a small girl she remembers a whirly (also referred to as whimsy) like the one she gave me, being on a family member's covered back porch. Ten years ago she had the opportunity to buy this Kentucky whirly from Rockcastle County, Kentucky as it reminded her of that long ago family whirly.

CLOSE-UP SHOWING HOW PIECES ARE PAINTED ON EACH SIDE
The whirly is chunky materially and whimsical in nature. Old paint colors of mustard and barn red decorate the whirly. It appears that it probably was placed in a sheltered place outdoors as the paint has remained in fairly good shape.

My question is -- was this type of folk art regional to Appalachia? Karen remembers whirlys from about forty years ago. What time-line were these old whirlys on in the world of folk art?

Each individual piece of wood is eight inches long and is positioned horizontally on a vertical rod. Each piece is made of one inch by one-half inch dimensional wood and is attached to the vertical rod through a hole running through the middle of each wood piece. The wood pieces are painted barn red on one side of each piece and mustard on the other side. When arranged on the rod they are arranged into a spiral. Very folksy in feeling, the old whirlys were done in different lengths and colors or no color according to Karen. The length of this whirly is just under 20 inches long.

ROD SCREW FOR ROD AT BOTTOM -- ALSO A SCREW IS AT TOP FOR THE ROD
An old end screw shows how the rod was run through the middle of the whirly. How old this whirly piece is cannot be told. Lots of age to the piece. I am sure it provided lots of smiles for the original owners. I expect it will for me too during the coming years.

4 comments:

  1. Barbara,
    I have enjoyed your blog so much!!
    Enjoy your "Whirly"
    Peace,
    Karen Todd

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  2. Karen, Thanks for the nice comment. Yes, I am enjoying my Whirly! -- barbara

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  3. I have a rather curious whirligig of similar design that a dear old gentleman made for me about ten years ago. Arthur and his wife were volunteers at Land Between the Lakes (LBL) 1850 Homeplace. He had some old scraps of boards from the barns there, and he made up some whirligigs with them. The one he made for me has several types of native wood in it-- walnut, maple, oak, and tulip-poplar. They vary from dark to light in color. The whirligig is not very "vintage" in appearance because he used a high gloss polyurethane on it. A laminated card, dangling from the rod screw at the bottom of the whirligig, tells the history and identifies the different woods. It is signed by Arthur, the gentleman who crafted it.

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  4. Genevieve, What a wonderful treasure to have. Especially with the written history by Arthur, the craftsman. These old type pieces of design need more research -- they are folk art no matter if they are contemporary or vintage.-- barbara

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