Hope and Glenn Brown
Hope and Glenn carve by the light that filters through the windows of their work shop. Glenn has been carving since 1939, Hope since 1940. Glenn’s first carving was a goose carved in apple, Hope’s a cat in cherry. They create their own patterns and make them available to the Folk School for other carvers. Hope also corrects and updates carving patterns for the school, providing examples of the various carving stages from the block to finished work.
Glenn expresses great appreciation for the Folk School, “it has been our life.” Hope adds, “We raised eight children, and it [carving] kept us off welfare. Our first cow, Bessie, came from the Folk School.” Glenn is known for his geese, guinea fowl and many other birds; his favorite and most difficult is an eagle with outstretched wings, talons grasping a rock. “It’s hard and takes a couple of days to do.” Hope, responsible for the design of most of their patterns, has designed and carved everything from cardinals to mockingbirds, dolphins to Dobermans, and fish to tigers. “I’ve never copied other people’s work; when I look at a block of wood I try to take advantage of the grain and pattern to flow with the lines of the animal’s shape or suggest patterned stripes.” Her most difficult piece is her standing angel for which she is nationally known.
In 1944, the Folk School’s work shop burned destroying all their patterns. The Browns had to temporarily move, finding employment in a Marietta, Georgia, bomber plant. During that difficult time Murray Martin faithfully mailed them blocks to carve. Hope speaks about Miss Martin with appreciation, “when we were under Murray at the Folk School she taught us proportion; she would always say you give each animal character.”
Both Hope and Glenn agree walnut and cherry are the most beautiful woods to carve with. Hope adds, “...but our hands are getting slow and weak now so butternut, a softer wood, is our favorite to carve by.” Glenn, famous for his beautifully detailed guineas, proudly states that, “Hope has a tremendous imagination.” Hope responds, “I guess I’m a perfectionist...Hoyt, our son, does beautiful carvings too...we like being able to do something other folks would enjoy.”
- Transcribed from John C. Campbell Folk School, The Brasstown Carvers (1990),
with text by Bill Biggers, photographs by Werner Kahn and Bill Biggers.
Used with permission of the John C. Campbell Folk School.