COAL IS BACK AND BEING EXPORTED FROM McCREARYCOUNTY
An old tradition has been renewed.Kentucky Coal Crafters (KCC) has opened their crafting operations at 71 Bridge Street in Stearns, KY and coal is once again being exported from McCrearyCounty.Kentucky Coal Crafters has once again started producing “hand carved” coal objects similar to the ones previously made and crafted by MidWest Crafts in WhitleyCity from 1975 until the business closed in 2002.
In the spring of this year “Buddy” Wilson and Alvin Powell were talking.Alvin was ready to get back in the “crafting” business and thought that the business should reopen.Thus a new partnership began and Kentucky Coal Crafters was born.The new partnership purchased some of the “mixing secrets”, molds, and equipment from the old MidWest Crafts and started the move from WhitleyCity to Stearns, KY which was the heart of coal country for McCrearyCounty for well over four decades.
Buddy stated, “For most of McCrearyCounty’s long mining history, we have been a major coal producing county.While our business is very small, at least we are exporting some coal from McCreary County…maybe we can qualify for Coal Severance Tax again”, he said laughing.
In the early 90’s there were a number of small Appalachian companies making figurines from coal.Now there are only two similar operations known to the new owners to still be in business.Alvin has contacted a number ofhis old acquaintances and customers and without exception, they have been thrilled and excited to have Alvin using his expertisedown home friendliness and knowledge of what people want to buy, to once again supply them with a variety of objects made from coal.
Locally, “Sweet Kreations”, located in the Depot of the Big South Fork Scenic Railway, is the only distributor currently set up to sell the coal figurine’s, but Buddy and Alvin hope to expand the business locally and to export a lot of coal across the country and even around the world.Alvin states that he can remember filling orders to numerous states, Japan and Canada for his former employer.
Alvin says the “coal crafting” process is a combination of using coal, coal dust and a resin binder to hold everything together so that it can be molded and formed.Due to the resin in the mixture and the peroxide catalyst which is added to harden the object, the objects come out of the process a grey color.To give the object a natural coal appearance, they are power sprayed with a black lacquer.While it may seem odd to have to spray paint coal to get it to look like coal, the entire process starts with and has as its base…COAL.
Alvin, who has worked at perfecting the process for over twenty years, states he can cast trim and paint about 40 of the larger piecesand a hundred plus of the smaller objects on a good work day.The objects that Alvin can do currently number 135, with some of that number of items having multiple pieces.Alvin states, “We have every thing from Coal Miners, Mountain Madonna, which are about 11inches tall, to small Kentucky magnets about 2 inches long...numerous animals, Lincoln’s, and trains…all made from Kentucky Coal.”Buddy stated that he is “amazed at Alvin’s talents.He is a molder, carver, whittler and just a plain old hard worker.” Buddy further stated, “Alvin is great at what he does, and can do a reproduction of almost anything and reproduce it out of coal…In fact we hope to be able to do custom orders for individuals and companies that would like to like to have their logo’s or objects made from coal.”Alvin once had a Michigan man to cast into coal a piece of abstract art for his office.A doctor’s office not to far from Stearns has a 3-foot coal ‘caducei made from coal, hanging outside his office.
A local official of the Big South Fork Scenic Railway recently stated, “It seems like overnight there’s little to no coal mining in McCrearyCounty.Now it seems we’ve progressed or evolved to the point where tourism is becoming a larger factor in McCrearyCounty’s economy each year.” “We’re glad to have Kentucky Coal Crafters as a neighbor, just at the end of our loading dock and adjacent to our parking lot.Hopefully many tourists will take home a part of our coal heritage in the form of a Kentucky Coal Crafters figurine.”
Prices are subject to change without notice. All claims for merchandise in shipping must be made within 7 days from ship date. No returns of merchandise to factory for any reason without approval from management.All accounts not paid within agreed terms are subject to service charge of 1 ½% per month. **Oak base available for $3.00.Engraved metal plate on wood base can be personalized, call for pricing. Shipping and handling rates based on zones and daily rates. Final S&H will be addressed at order confirmation.