Experience Arkansas with Ozark Heritage Crafts
The Ozark Folk Center State Park is home to more than 20 craft artisans. Each artisan has their own climate controlled workshop in the Craft Village where they create, demonstrate, teach and sell their handmade items. Working on their crafts daily allows our artisans to develop a mastery of their chosen craft that few people in today’s world have the time to achieve. You’ll find heirloom quality crafts here at the Ozark Folk Center State Park.
The crafts people are all independent business folks who make their livings selling the items they create by hand. Each item is made, one at a time, by the people in the workshop. Depending on the craft, each piece can take from an hour to a year to carve, weave, forge or fire.
The craft workshops you will find in the Village include:
Music and more – down next to the parking lot, this visitor information center offers you a chance to play a washtub bass, create your own string band and learn more about the park.
The Candle Shop – Chandler Traci Glover dips and pours high quality bees wax tapers, adamantine pillars and other naturally beautiful candles. A closet chemist, she loves to explain distillation and the chemistry of soap and candles. She also offers visitors a chance to dip their own paraffin color dip candles and she teaches beginning to advanced candle making as well as how to make bees wax soaps.
The Gun Shop – one of the few places in the world where you can visit with people still making their own black powder pistols and rifles. Gun making is a slow process, but you will always find a smith carving, sanding, shaving metal or browning barrels.
Jewelry and Casting Shop – Charles and Linda Widmer are lifetime crafts people. As world renowned wood carvers their pieces were collected by presidents and museums. Now they have transitioned that eye for detail and beauty into carving molds for casting ornaments and creating beautiful, delicate wire-wrapped jewelry. Their custom pieces wrapped around coins, antique buttons and unique stones are heirloom quality.
Broom Shop – Broom makers Shawn Hoefer and Lena Larson have been chosen as champion broom makers at the National Broom Corn Festival in Arcola Illinois three out of the last four years. They dye their own broom corn and hand select and finish sticks from local hardwoods. Their brooms are beautiful and useful .
Herb Shoppe – the Heritage Herb Garden that flourishes throughout the park is a nationally recognized repository of native Ozark plants, culinary and medicinal herbs and pass-along plants. These plants are cared for and propagated by our herb team that includes Tina Marie Wilcox, Kathleen Connole. Plants are available in the arbor during the season.
Doll Shop and Shuckery – cousins Erlene Carter, Paula Lane and Kathy Lane combine their talents to fill this shop with fanciful fairy dolls, replica nurse dolls, corn shuck angels, prairie doll bookmarks, corn shuck flowers and wreaths. The shop is a delight of color and the family stories shared as they work on dolls give you a feel for how it was to grow up in the Ozarks in the days before roads and electricity.
Basket Shop – Basket weaver Melody Conatser works in reed to create baskets ranging from little ones for coffee filters or flowers to bigger ones to store magazines or carry casseroles. She adds color and unique textures to basic baskets and weaves more complex forms such as egg baskets.
The Art Guild – the Mountain View Art Guild is representative of the warm and welcoming community tucked away here in Stone County Arkansas. The Guild is open to anyone who wants to learn to paint. They offer low cost classes with master artists and have several sales areas around town. In this cabin, volunteers from the Guild share their love of painting with visitors who want to try their hand at different techniques.
The Leather Shop – From belts to hold up pants to gun holsters, purses and book covers, leather has always been an important part of life in the Ozarks. It is also an available resource. Our leatherworkers take tanned hides and turn them into durable, beautiful, useful and decorative items.
Blacksmith forge – blacksmithing skills were vital to homesteaders and appreciated today. Blacksmith Pat Thompson and his apprentices forge everything from nails to elaborate wall decorations, stair rails and iron gates. While blacksmith’s in the past would have used coal, or hardwood charcoal in their forges, the OFC blacksmiths use a fuel efficient propane forge that allows them to have the heat needed when they need it and does not release unfiltered emissions from burning coal.
Apothecary Shop – soap is a vital supply to help people stay healthy as well as clean. Linda Odom makes good old fashioned soap using the cold process method. She recycles the cooking oil from the Smokehouse snack bar and herbs from the Heritage Herb Garden in her soaps. She also makes lotions and other remedies. She carries teas and locally roasted coffee, too.
The Clothier Shop – Comfortable, functional, modest, natural fiber clothing is the focus of this shop. Proprietor Julia Varga divides her time between making skirts, aprons, dresses, blouses, shirts and vests from locally sourced cotton fabrics and mending clothing for other folks in the Village. A seamstress is one of the most valued crafts people in the past and the present.
The Wood Carving Shop – From children toys such as rubber band pistols and finger tops to honey dippers and oven grabbers, this shop offers something for all ages. Omar produces both functional and fun items from one of our most available natural resources here in the Ozarks, wood.
Spinning and Weaving Shop – Fabric starts with fiber. The Spinning and Weaving shop is where Rusti Barger spins yarns and weaves them into everything from bath towels and blankets to shawls and scarves. The shop walls are full of her gorgeous creations for your shopping pleasure. She also sells the fibers for spinners; spinning wheels; weaving looms; yarns and all thing fibery.
Cooper & Whittling Shop – Wood is the major resource of the Ozarks. It can become hoe handles or butter churns. This shop features hand carved, whittled and shaped wood by Sandy Gonzales and Denny Maynard. Coopering is a skill that takes many years to perfect. Along the way, coopers learn to make many things that are useful around the homestead. Visit the Cooper Shop for hand carved boxes, figures, spoons and more.
Quilt Shop – There is nothing more comforting than a quilt to snuggle under on a cold winter night. Quilt making has been not only a vital life skill in the Ozarks, but the beautiful quilts made here are a source of pride for the quilt makers. Visit this shop to find the rare beauty of hand stitched quilts.
Print Shop – We are lucky to have several working letter presses in our shop at the Ozark Folk Center, as well as a printer who has devoted his life to teaching the craft of letterpress printing. Join Troy Odom to learn about this craft that brought about literacy and is making a comeback in the modern world.
Pottery – This shop is the full scale of artistry in clay. The walls and shelve are full of the beautiful pots, mugs, bowls, plates and pitchers made in the shop. Each spring potters John Perry and Judi Munn fire the wood fired ground hog kiln. This historic style of firing produces beautiful and unique textures and colors. Throughout the year they fire the pots they create on the wheel in electric, propane and now waste vegetable oil kilns in their studio on the park. They have a teaching classroom with five wheels and take apprentices with two years’ experience in college level pottery.
Stained Glass – Our stained glass artist, Dona Sawyer is a master at Tiffany-style glass. She creates her own designs and produces them in glorious colors of glass. She does custom orders for pieces large and small. She recycles her glass scraps and pieces into fused glass jewelry, buttons and utensils.
Knife Shop – Arkansas has long been known for its master blade-smiths. The knife-makers at the Ozark Folk Center carry on this tradition making knives of all sizes and uses. They have many worked in Damascus steel with handles of antler, bone and exotic woods. They handcraft sheaths to fit each knife. Tom Weir takes custom orders if he does not have a blade made that suits your hand.
Copper Colorists – Skip Mathews spent a decade cutting more than 15,000 butterflies out of copper and using torch flame to turn the copper brilliant colors. Through patience and practice, Skip discovered how to consistently get the colors he wants where he wants them in his designs. Skip and his wife Rachel create many beautiful designs using copper and fire in this unique craft.
Looking for other ways to be involved?