Jerill Vance is a woodworker, educator, and owner of the Appalachian Heritage Woodshop.
The purpose of the Appalachian Heritage Woodshop is to educate an audience about the form and function of utilitarian Appalachian furniture through a revisitation of the era in which they were produced.
“By learning about the function of antique furniture,” said Vance, “We gain insight into the value of these historic relics.”
As much as Vance enjoys woodworking, his desire to educate motivates his vocational aspirations. An almost forgotten cultural endeavor, the shop wants to reinvigorate the Appalachian man and spirit. That’s why they’re committed to highlighting the Appalachian lifestyle from the past, with a little present Appalachian flair.
“I love wood; the grain, the colors, and the textures. When I walk in a forest, I see tables, chairs, and all kinds of furniture,” said Vance. “My motto is––from forest to furniture, leave the smallest impact on nature possible.”
In 2014, Vance had an idea for a TV show that would combine Appalachian’s rich history with the furniture it’s produced throughout the years. Season 1, with its six episodes, airing began in October 2018 from the West Virginia PBS (WPBY) channel.
Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic delayed Season 2, but all 13 episodes began airing in July 2021. Thirteen episodes of Season 3 are in production and will air this coming Summer (2022). Watch the first two seasons on their website.
Vance offers a variety of woodworking plans on his website from objects built on the show, including a Bible box, wood mallets, country chests, a bucket bench, and more. He hopes that these plans would inspire others who may want to replicate good old-fashioned West Virginia woodworking.
The shop and show are seeking to cultivate pride––namely, pride in West Virginia’s Appalachian heritage.
If you’d like to keep up with Jerill and the Appalachian Heritage Woodshop, you can visit www.appalachianheritagewoodshop.com.
PWV QUICK BITS | JERILL VANCE
- RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Encyclopedia Furniture Making, by Ernest Joyce.
- PIECE OF ADVICE: “Don’t give up. When you first start something, you’ll have naysayers. [But] if you have a passion, you’ll find a way to complete your goal,” advised Vance.