Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Spiker

As you may know, I live on a farm where burley tobacco is grown. You can read more about the crop in my posts listed HERE and specifically about harvesting the crop HERE and HERE. Cutting tobacco is done in August and early September. It is a tough job of bending down and lifting repeatedly, working in the hottest part of the summer... it takes strong men to do it! The full-grown plants are massive, as tall as a man's head, and brittle. Great care must be taken not to break off the leaves. Each plant is cut by hand using a small hatchet-like tool called a tobacco knife and then laid gently on the ground.

"The Spiker"
24x30 oil on canvas

Then the tobacco is spiked onto tobacco sticks, wooden sticks about 4 feet long. The worker places a sharp metal cone... a spike... over the stick and impales the stalks of five plants onto each stick. The sticks filled with tobacco are forced upright in the ground. They remain there for three days  to wilt before the crop is moved to the barn for curing.

The man in my painting has worked on our farm for almost twenty years. He is strong and rugged. I wanted to capture that in my artwork. Spiking tobacco is daunting work!

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