Island Farm to hold cornhusk seat weaving demonstrations

Published 9:24 am Sunday, May 22, 2022

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Cornhusk weaving is a skill of the past, but for one week in May, Island Farm will be bringing the rare craft to light with expert cornhusk seat weaver David Russell

The public is welcome to join Island Farm on May 24, 25, 26 and 27 as it hosts David Russell for demonstrations of and details about the historic craft of creating strong chair seats from the shucks of corn cobs.

Russell will be demonstrating the craft at Island Farm on May 24, 25, and 27 during open hours, which are 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Demonstrations at Island Farm are included with the regular cost of admission.

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On Thursday, May 26, Island Farm and Russell will be at the Dare County Arts Council courtyard in downtown Manteo for a demo between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. This is a free event.

Cornhusk seat weaving is a craft of the past, when folks used exactly what they had on hand to make an item of function. Russell has been weaving corn husk seats for over 20 years. From Washington, Ga., Russell is one of the few people who is taking a hands-on approach to preserving this type of craft by weaving and demonstrating across the south. Today, only a couple hundred folks remain who know the trade.

Several cornhusk chairs are part of Island Farm’s furniture collection, indicative of the period and the ethos of the time: use what you have on hand. On Roanoke Island in the mid-19th century, corn was produced in high volumes. In 1850, Adam Etheridge (who owned and farmed the land that is now Island Farm) produced 200 bushels of corn. The popularity of corn husk seat weaving grew quickly in the 18th and 19th centuries on small-scale farms (much like those that were on Roanoke Island), especially where corn was plentiful but luxuries were not. Today, original corn-husk woven chair seats are as rare as the people that know the trade, noted Island Farm.

For questions about the upcoming event, visit or call 252-473-6500.

Admission to Island Farm is $10 and children 3 and under are admitted for free. Island Farm is open April through November, Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.; programming and activities vary throughout the season. The farmstead is located at 1140 N US Highway 64, north of Manteo on Roanoke Island.


Courtesy David Russell