Lendel Abbott uses a pocket knife and his imagination to transform peach leftovers into tiny sculptures.
(WBIR-Blount County) Lendel Abbott just has a way about him.
He is a self decribed hillbilly who shares his carving secrets and his home spun wisdom. Emily Stroud and Kevin Umberger
Lendel Abbott makes a point of NOT selling the tiny animals he carves from peach pits. Enjoy his story! Emily Stroud and Kevin Umberger
"If you never interviewed a hillbilly this is your chance now," he said as he stroked his dog's fur at his home in Blount County.
He grew up in a holler near Maryville where he says his parents were firm and did not spare the rod.
"If I hadn't had the hickory on the hind end at times I would have been worse than Jesse James or Al Capone I guess," he said.
Instead, he leads the life of a craftsman.
"I am making shavings," he said as he pushed his knife down the length of a stick. "That's called shaving. You can make them big, you can make them little, you can make them thick or just any way you want to make them after you learn."
He's happy to share what he's learned during years and years of practice.
"I would say to start with get you a good knife and a good piece of wood then get you a big box of band aids because you'll probably need them," he said. "If you turn that knife up on too steep an angle it won't cut. Lay it down and it will cut."
Lendel Abbott's tool of choice is a pocket knife he wields with strong sturdy hands.
"I've worked outside all of my life. I've done a little bit of everything. Used to lay brick and block and stone before I went to work at the rock quarry," he said.
Since retiring he's focused on a particular type of carving.
"There's no limit to what you can do with a peach seed," he explained.
He transforms what most people would toss out after enjoying a peach.
He calls them peach seed carvings.
He uses his imagination to see what it should be.
The Appalachian artist visualizes squirrels and monkeys and bears as he starts with a pit and ending with a tiny charm.
You can see it close up when he demonstrates at the Townsend Visitors Center in the spring and the fall. But he doesn't sell them. You could call his no cost creations priceless.
"I give them away to special people," he explained.
The peach seeds are the only things that change.
"I don't change who I am or the way I talk or the way I dress for nobody," he said.
Lendel Abbott doesn't change his attitude.
He said, "Nobody is better than I am. I'm no better than nobody else. We're all human and I think we all need to stop and think about that once in awhile you know." :54
He'll think about it while he makes shavings.
Lendel shares a secret to keeping up his energy - every day he drinks a concoction of warm water, honey, and vinegar.