Yorker helps new generations rediscover Lost Arts

Bill Kalina
York Dispatch

When Kathy Penney ran a booth for her caning service at The Markets at Shrewsbury, she would often hear a particular comment from people who stopped to watch her work.

“People would come by and say ‘That’s a lost art,’” she said. “I’d say, ‘I’m trying to make it that it isn’t.'”

Kathy Penney, center, instructs John Eppinger of Stewartstown while Lucy Cadwallader of Glen Rock works on a project during Penney's caning class at her home studio in Railroad Tuesday, June 9, 2020. Penney founded Lost Arts, a traditional arts group. Bill Kalina photo

It made her realize just how many traditional arts there are. Weaving, masonry, sewing, jewelry-making ­­— the “household arts,” as she calls them.

“We are doing crafts that have been done for generations,” Penney said. “We want them to continue, and the only way for them to continue is if we teach them.”

Penney started Lost Arts, a group of artisans with the common bond of traditional crafting, a year ago. The goal of the group is to preserve heritage through education.

Members include Victorian hair jewelry artist and owner of Lucyshairwork, Lucy Cadwallader of Glen Rock; weaver Debbie Mancuso, who runs The Teaching Museum for the Fiber Arts & Textiles in Felton; and Wanda Gardner, who owns Rugs by Wanda in Lycoming County.

Each offers lessons or demonstrations.

Cadwallader attended a caning class at Penney’s home studio in Railroad.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for artists to share our knowledge and passion with the public,” she said.

Kathy Penney, left, instructs Lucy Cadwallader of Glen Rock as she collects caning fiber during a caning class at Penney's home studio in Railroad Tuesday, June 9, 2020. Both are members of Lost Arts, a traditional arts group Penney founded. Cadwallader specializes in making hair jewelry. Bill Kalina photo

Penney is optimistic about capturing younger generations' interest in the lost arts.

“We do these old-fashioned things, which kids think are cool,” she said. “They want to learn them.”

To join Lost Arts (it's free), email Penney at kathypenney@rocketmail.com.