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Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet
Kentucky Arts Council

Tom Musgrave

Master Woodworker Will Demonstrate Chairmaking at
Makings of a Master Exhibit in Louisa

FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 22, 2017) — Kentucky master woodworker Terry Ratliff, of Martin, will demonstrate his craft at 6 p.m., April 13, at Lawrence County Public Library.

The program is part of the Kentucky Arts Council’s “Makings of a Master” traveling exhibit, which will be in Louisa through May 31. The library is at 102 W. Main St. in Louisa.

Makings of a Master” contains seven display cases housing a variety of musical instruments, tools and artworks made by master tradition bearers, interpretive panels, display photos and quotes, along with a push-button video display.

Ratliff, a two-time recipient of an arts council Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grant, will discuss the repair and maintenance of antique hickory-bottom chairs.

“It’s a process of using green wood from the log, getting the chair parts and assembling chairs in the traditional way without glue, screws or nails – ancient techniques for joining two pieces of wood together,” said Ratliff, who has been making old-style chairs for nearly 40 years. “These are chairs like our ancestors grew up with every day. They’ve been doing it this way as long as history has been recorded.

“This is the type of chair identified with our region of the country, the heart of Appalachia. You still find these in antique stores.”

Ratliff’s son and former apprentice, Joseph, will assist the master woodworker during the presentation. Ratliff’s other former apprentice, Barbara Church, has gone on to become a master herself, receiving an apprenticeship grant in 2016.

Carlie Hillman, library director, said she anticipates the exhibit being a big draw for the library.

“It’s already generating a lot of buzz. This exhibit is a unique opportunity for a community like ours. I’m glad we can provide this for our community and patrons,” Hillman said. “We have four schools in walking distance of the library, and anytime we have an exhibit we can get the kids in to see, it’s great.”

For more information on the “Makings of a Master” exhibit, contact Mark Brown, arts council folk and traditional arts director, at or 502-892-3115.

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The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, fosters environments for Kentuckians to value, participate in and benefit from the arts. Kentucky Arts Council funding is provided by the Kentucky General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts.