FOXFIRE 5 by Eliot--Ed. Wigginton

FOXFIRE 5

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In Foxfire 5 Wigginton and his students in Southern Appalachia continue their search for ""human fossils"" who can pass on the techniques and values of traditional crafts. This time, though, learning the secrets of the iron maker and the blacksmith takes us out of the house into a world where ""You see something, you want it and you make it."" Masters display their tools and skill, and explain just how to make a fireplace poker, a forge shovel, froe (for splitting shingles), cowbell, and horseshoe. But respect for old ways requires the ability to improvise as well as imitate. The muzzle-loader never went out of style in this region; and with its simplicity and variety, its rich craftsmanship and tradition, the ""smoke pole"" is returning to favor with many who are dubious about modern society. ""The idea is to get by just as primitive and low-priced and with the lowest impact on Mother Nature as possible,"" says one modern pioneer who has reached ""a 1915 level of existence"" and is ""regressing bit by bit."" Although this volume gives us such old-time implements as ""go-devils"" and ""peaveys,"" readers of its predecessors may miss accounts of homier crafts such as butter-churning or midwifery. And there's considerable repetition (the derivation of ""pig"" iron is given four times). But if the vein of crafts is beginning to play out, the human ore seems unlimited. The tales of the bear hunters--who share the space with metalworkers--are repositories of myth, mystery, and summary justice: ""He was mean, he cussed and he died.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1979
Publisher: Anchor/Doubleday