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Retiree finds second career in furniture building, TV show

December 26, 2018

WINFIELD, W.Va. (AP) — When Jerill Vance retired in 2009, he didn’t settle down to a life of leisure. Instead he embarked on a second career as a custom furniture maker and now host of “Appalachian Heritage Woodshop.”

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the Culloden resident was a hobby woodworker before earning an associate’s degree in fine woodworking after retiring. Out of that passion came his custom furniture business and a six-part television show airing on West Virginia Public Broadcasting stations.

Each show focuses on a piece of antique Appalachian furniture. Vance shows how to design and build the pieces and then shows them in action in an historical context.

“A good example is what’s called a bucket bench,” Vance said. “Before they had indoor plumbing, they would have to haul water in buckets. They would have a designated place to store the water, called a bucket bench. Today’s youth have no knowledge of — not just the furniture, but the chores of retrieving water.”

Another show featured a Bible box.

“A lot of people don’t realize the Bible was very prominent, because they used it to record family history,” he said. “They would record the births, the deaths and the marriages in it. They would even put things in the Bible like a lock of hair from a deceased person or they would keep a flower from a wedding and press it in the Bible. A lot of the older Appalachian families, the Bible was the only book they would have. A lot of them would have a box just to keep the Bible in.”

The last episode of “Appalachian Heritage Woodshop” airs on Jan. 5, and Vance said he is still deciding whether there will be a second season. In the meantime, he’s taking ideas for topics.


Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://wvgazettemail.com.

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