“Toys with Souls” subject of Calhoun’s Live@Lanier talk

Published 5:03 pm Thursday, December 7, 2017

Vogue Magazine, in its 1923 Christmas issue, described wooden dolls handcrafted by the Tryon Toy Makers as “toys with souls…an air that immediately sets them apart as something unique.” Years later, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt is said to have visited and purchased Tryon toys for her grandchildren. Today, the unique charm of the wooden toys persists, earning a place in the 2017 Craft in Toyland exhibit at the prestigious Grovewood Gallery in Asheville.

Over the decades, many names have been associated with Tyron’s “Tiffany of toys.” At the next Live@Lanier, Thursday, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m., join the latest owner and artist of Tryon Toy Makers and Wood Carvers. Born in Tryon, Julia Calhoun has warm memories of a heritage that she refuses to let fade and be forgotten. Drawing since she was a child and trained in fine art, Julia uses the earliest toy designs and colors to preserve the vision and creativity of the founders that ranges from a somersaulting rabbit and clown puzzle to a Noah’s ark playset and a Morris the rocking horse.

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Moving forward, she will revive woodcarving in 2018 and wants to train area youth in the skills and traditions of toymaking.

Tryon Toy Makers and Julia, with her Carolina Confections as well, are at 12 South Trade Street in Tryon across from the landmark Morris. The original horse was made of logs in 1928 by eager Tryon Toy Maker artisans. Julia looks forward to sharing that story and more in her “The History and Artistry of the Tryon Toymakers.” A historic collection of toys will also be displayed throughout December at Lanier Library, 72 Chestnut Street, Tryon.

For details call 828-859-9535 or visit www.lanierlibrary.org.

– submitted by Vincent Verrecchio