WLM WLM Summer 2015 - Page 20

WLM | explore BIG HORN BASIN Folk Festival “I dle hands are the devil’s workshop,” my grandmother used to say, and there was never any question about her allegiance -- her hands were always busy. She had weathered the Depression of the 1930s, a time when people had to be resourceful and creative, figuring out how to raise, build or make whatever they needed. That mindset was part of growing up on the American frontier. Our grandfathers and greatgrandfathers broke horses, forged horseshoes and tools, made rope and crafted their own saddles. Our grandmothers and greatgrandmothers never sat down without something in their hands -- spinning, knitting, sewing, mending, quilting or making rugs. Those skills were passed down as they had been for generations, by learning from the older generation. Today, there are many areas of the country where traditional crafts are in danger of disappearing as public education and new technologies have disrupted the old patterns. Wyoming is lucky. We have a high percentage of people -- “culture bearers” -- who continue distinctive crafts and skills, passing them on in a circle of family and friends. They may incorporate new materials and new uses, but they build on past knowledge. Many of these individuals are rarely seen at regular arts and crafts events. Some do not produce enough to sell; a quality hand-sewn quilt or a braided rug might take up to a year to complete. Others prefer to keep their work or to give it as gifts. This summer there is a rare gathering of these skilled craftsmen at the Big Horn Basin Folk Festival, August 1-2, 2015, in Hot Springs State Park, Thermopolis. 20 Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine | Summer 2015 By E. Sue Blakey Images courtesy E. Sue Blakey