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Program 920

1. carving carousel horses
2. soap maker Kathy Haynes-Ellis
3. coal mining history in Stearns
4. artist Barbara Stallard
Season 9 Menu

Fayette County

For more information:
Horsin’ Around, 38361 Dayton Pike, Soddy Daisy, TN 37379, (423) 332-1111
SCAPA, 400 Lafayette Parkway, Lexington, KY 40503, (859) 381-3332

Producer: Valerie Trimble
Videographer: John Breslin
Editor: Jim Piston

All the Pretty Horses

Carving carousel horses

There’s an undeniable magic about carousels, which seem to provide transportation directly back to childhood. For Frank “Bud” Ellis, they are both his vocation and his life’s passion.

Bud is a master woodcarver who is almost single-handedly keeping alive the art of carving carousel animals. In this profile, he shares his techniques with students from the School for the Creative and Performing Arts at Lafayette High School in Lexington as part of a visiting artists program. They learn how to carve various body parts from designs and blueprints, then assemble the parts into a complete horse. Bud is shown at right with student Elizabeth Adams.

In addition to the horses, Bud carves big cats, frogs, and a wide variety of other fanciful creatures, plus the chariots that are also a must for any well-appointed carousel. One of the best places to see his work is at Coolidge Park in his hometown of Chattanooga. It boasts a carousel that represents the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for the artist. He located an antique carousel whose animals had been sold off, convinced the city to buy it and restore the mechanism, and then recruited volunteers to help him hand-carve 52 new animals. Most, of course, are decorated in bright colors—but one horse was left unpainted as a tribute to the carver’s art and to the wood itself.

Russell County

For more information:
• Preserving Thyme, 6223 Highway 92, Russell Springs, KY 42642, (270) 343-2641

Producer: Cheryl Beckley
Videographers: Cheryl Beckley, Erin Althaus, Philip Allgier
Editor: Philip Allgier

Soft Soap

Soap maker Kathy Haynes-Ellis

Hand crafting and the preservation of an old-time skill are also themes of our next segment. But in the case of Russell County’s Kathy Haynes-Ellis (no relation, as far as we know, to Bud), the end result is a product that’s mostly utilitarian—but still a little indulgent.

As a child, Kathy watched her grandmother make soap. At the time, of course, it was a practical matter, a way of providing the family with a household necessity. Now the granddaughter has taken the basic techniques and combined them with some new ingredients and a little modern marketing to turn a household chore into a living. Her business, Preserving Thyme Herbals, sells a line of hand-made luxury soaps and other bath products.

McCreary County

For more information:
Big South Fork Scenic Railway, P.O. Box 368, 100 Henderson St., Stearns, KY 42647, (800) 462-5664
Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, (606) 376-5073

Producer, videographer, editor: Ernie Lee Martin

Coal History


Nearly everything in the town of Stearns, in McCreary County, is on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s a rare example of a still-standing company town, with most of its structures having been built by Justus Stearns’ coal and lumber company in the early years of the 20th century.

The company also built its own sawmill, an electrical generating plant, and several miles of railroad to transport coal and timber. In fact, its presence led to the formation of McCreary County itself. With all that economic activity and hundreds of workers being brought in, some form of local government was needed. But in those days of poor or nonexistent roads, the site of Stearns was days away from surrounding county seats. So in 1912, McCreary County was carved out of parts of Pulaski, Wayne, and Whitley—the last of Kentucky’s 120 counties to be formed.

Like other coal towns throughout Eastern Kentucky, Stearns saw its share of booms and busts, mining tragedies, and trouble between the company and its workers before local operations ceased in the 1970s. At the Stearns Museum, housed in the former headquarters building, today’s visitors can get a taste of that history and a look at the lives of coal miners during the first half of the 20th century. For our visit, retired miner Leonard Kidd provides some perspective.

Outside, some other former company property has been converted to the cause of tourism. Several miles of track that used to carry ore and timber now transport visitors into the Big South Fork National Recreation Area. Created in 1974 and administered by the National Park Service, this 125,000-acre swath of rugged woodlands spanning the Kentucky-Tennessee border is a mecca for hiking, camping, hunting and fishing, kayaking, and other outdoor recreation. The Kentucky visitors’ center, open April through October, is on Ky. 92, half a mile west of U.S. 27.

Jefferson County

Producer: Connie Offutt
Videographer, editor: Mike Blackburn

A-maze-ing Art

Painter Barbara Stallard

Our final stop for the day is the studio of Louisville artist Barbara Stallard. A creator in many different media, Barbara is a painter, printmaker, poet, and former leathercrafter. But her focus at the time of our visit was on paintings, many of which are based on quilts and other textile patterns that she creates on fabric before re-creating them in paint. Another frequent theme is mazes, which she sometimes generates on a computer, transfers to cloth and embroiders, and then paints. The paintings, in turn, may be embellished with strips of ribbon and other sewing notions.

This profile is from KET’s arts magazine Mixed Media. Barbara’s profile page there includes some examples of her work.

SEASON 9 PROGRAMS: 901902903904905906907908909: Along Highway 62

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