Born in 1979, Jason Lonon grew up in McDowell County where he spent a three-year apprenticeship with master furniture maker Hugh Bowman. Jason has always had a love of history and working with his hands. He grew up on a small farm where woodworking was a natural part of learning to help around the homestead. It was the years spent with Hugh Bowman, however, that helped him realize his ability to make a living as a fine woodworker.
Jason started his apprenticeship when he was sixteen years old. At first, he focused on Windsor chairs, beds, tables, and Shaker-style and early American furniture. He describes Hugh Bowman as a renaissance man who was always willing to try new things. Jason helped his sister put together a dulcimer building kit she received as a gift. He showed it to Bowman, and the two decided to try making some instruments. After working at making dulcimers and banjos for a couple years, the two had mastered the craft.
In addition to making dulcimers, Jason also plays the instrument. He recorded an album with his sister and brother, who have also taken up traditional mountain music. The three used to perform, but Jason stays busy now with his craft work.
Jason spends most of his time working at blacksmithing, an interest he has had for a long time. To get started, he checked out some books, bought some old equipment, and used a rock hammer he borrowed from his grandfather. Since his entry into blacksmithing, Jason has gained a strong regional reputation for his work. He has demonstrated at a number of venues including local festivals, historic sites, and at Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Day.
Jason Lonon offers a wide variety of public demonstrations and workshops. He has presented dulcimer making, traditional furniture making, and blacksmithing. He has given presentations in venues that range from universities and historic villages, to festivals and craft shows.