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Rag rug weaving embraces the folk art tradition of using everyday, readily available materials to build aesthetically beautiful, yet functional art: textiles made from the things we have, can forage, or acquire. With the craze du jour surrounding KonMari, now is a good time to think about new options for all those clothes you may be putting into the “Thank you, goodbye” pile. Rag rug weaving might be your perfect option!

A table runner made by JoEl with woven plastic bags! See a photo below of the process.

Rag weaving a craft that always offers a student the opportunity to get in the spirit of upcycling. I recently talked with longtime Folk School instructor, JoEl Levy LoGiudice about this sustainable, functional, colorful, and beautiful type of weaving. JoEl has taught rag rug weaving, among other subjects, at the Folk School since 1987. She has two classes coming up: Fabulous Fabric Necklaces on May 17–19 and Woven Rag Rugs and Runners on Oct 13–19. Enjoy our interview!

CP: You’ve been teaching at the Folk School for over 30 years! That’s so awesome. Do you remember the first time you came to the Folk School?

JLL: I learned about the school from a former student of mine when I taught at the Appalachian Center for Crafts. Douglas Atchley had recently moved to Brasstown to manage the craft gallery (at that time it was located in the History Center) and he thought I would enjoy teaching here. He put me in contact with Ruth, who was directing programs at that time, and the first class I taught was Appalachian Rib Baskets. [click to continue…]

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March of the Fiddlers

by Susan Conger on January 28, 2019

in Music & Dance

sue conger fiddle class

When students show up at an Intermediate-level fiddle class, they already know how to play some tunes — maybe some fast ones, maybe some waltzes; tunes learned from a friend or teacher or family member, tunes laboriously acquired from a scratchy old recording, or tunes read out of a tunebook. But it’s pretty much a sure thing that those students don’t all know the same tunes as one another. One of the things we do as a class is learn a common repertoire, starting with whatever tune I teach on the first evening. That first tune is always something uncomplicated so that students weary from a day of travel can easily locate it under their fingers and bow.

Of course, the next morning students are sure that the previous night’s tune is forgotten and gone. But no, we get it back and go on with our day; not just learning tunes, but figuring out how to coax more style and grace and pizzazz from the fiddles.

Usually, by about Wednesday, we’re ready to go serenading. We head over to one of the clusters of studios and walk along playing our fiddles. Sometimes, an instructor or a student has heard us coming and hurries to open a studio door and usher us in. In other cases, I put my head in the door and ask if it’s a good time for us to share a tune. We play a tune for the wood-turners or the potters or the quilters or the cooks, and in turn, they show us what they’re making (or feed us tidbits). In no time at all, everyone’s beaming – excited and happy to show what they’re working on.

Some specific memories from fiddle serenades have stuck with me. One year some of the blacksmiths pointed out, wistfully, that we hadn’t visited their studio (we remedied that). Once a PBS film crew, on campus for a day or two to get some JCCFS footage for a program, spotted us fiddling as we walked from Davidson Hall to the Painting Studio. The cameraman raced over to film the action, and then to our astonishment, wanted us to go back and repeat it so he could record the sound.

But more than any specific memory, what lingers in my mind is the overall experience of visiting Folk School studios with fiddles in our hands. We brought the joy of the music with us, and – no surprise – found every studio already humming with the joy inherent in creating.

Susan Conger will be teaching “Make Your Fiddle Sing and Dance” on March 17-23, 2019.

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Eleanor Koch, from Nashville, TN, came to the Folk School as a work study student during her gap year after studying permaculture and sustainable agriculture in Israel. After her time at the Folk School, she began her freshman year at Warren Wilson College. Photo by Darcy Holdorf.

Tammy Elwell from Oak Park, Minnesota has been a work study student and a host at the Folk School. During her recent time as a host she studied glass beads, book arts and broom making. She also participated in our Thursday night woodcarving class. She asked to be photographed with Chester the Squirrel carved by Richard Carter. Tammy’s passion and joy on the dance floor are infectious! Photo by Darcy Holdorf.

These images were made during my time working as a Sales Associate in the Folk School Craft Shop. The series began as a way to recognize the work study students and hosts who come and go from the Folk School so quickly, yet are a vital part of what we do. I was curious about their lives, before and after the Folk School. I invited work study students to visit the Craft Shop and pick out work that spoke to them for a portrait shoot. This allowed me to share a bit of their personal story while also highlighting work by the talented artists we carry in the shop. When I didn’t have work study students to photograph, I started inviting Folk School staff to participate and the scope of the project grew.

Richard Carter started working at the Folk School in 1969. He has been carving for more than 40 years and started selling his carvings in the Craft Shop in the late 70’s. He says he finds carving peaceful and relaxing and enjoys the satisfaction of finding something in a piece of wood. Over the years, Richard has made an effort to preserve the Brasstown Carving tradition. He is currently teaching our staff and work study students on a weekly basis. You can find Richard carving in the Craft Shop on most Tuesdays and Thursdays. Photo by Darcy Holdorf.

An unintended result of the fashion shoots is that they helped build friendships between the Craft Shop team and other members of the Folk School staff. Everyone who works in the Craft Shop joined in to help style the models and, in the process, we all got to know each other better.

The portrait of carver Richard Carter elicited a lot of comments from local community members and connected him with a local teen that is interested in learning to carve. For me, those small connections make this project worthwhile. They prove that photography and social media really can bring people together.

Before I came to the Folk School, I worked as a photojournalist, so this was a natural way for me to bring my experience and skill set into my work at the Craft Shop. When I first moved to Brasstown, I saw craft and journalism as worlds apart. This project helped me to discover a strong commonality between the two: storytelling. I’m honored to be teaching my first class at the Folk School this Spring and look forward to seeing the portraits and the personal connections that my students make!

Enjoy some of the photos from the Craft Shop Portraits below. If you click on each image, you will go to the original Instagram story of that image with the complete set of photos. Be sure to follow us on Instagram, which is a collaborative effort of Folk School staff, to see the greater Folk School story.

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The New 2019 Folk School Catalog has arrived!

by Tipper Pressley on January 17, 2019

in Catalog

2019 Catalog

Our new Folk School catalog is here! You can browse and register for classes from today through December 2019.

To receive a Folk School catalog for the first time, please complete our online form. We’ll send a catalog directly to your mailbox. View the eCatalog to see an online version of the new catalog.

Choose from weeklong and weekend classes in 50 subjects, taught by talented instructors who enjoy sharing their craft with students. Browse several of our popular class subjects in the catalog, and inspire your creativity in our non-competitive learning environment.

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Photo by Nicole McConville

Have you ever wanted to try batik and hand-dyeing? We have a very special surface design class coming up on April 7–13, 2019 with Jessica Kaufman: Studio Batik: Many Techniques, Amazing Results. Jessica has studied batik methods from Indonesia and India and is the owner of WAXON Batik & Dye Studio in Asheville, NC. With over 16 years of teaching experience and an MA in crafts education, Jessica has taught batik and tie-dye to summer campers, school children, high schoolers, and adults all over the country. We are lucky to have her for a week-long intensive focusing on this gorgeous and functional art form. Enjoy our interview!

Photo by Nicole McConville

CP: When did you first come to the Folk School? When were you a host?

JK: I grew up with relatives in Penland and would visit the school for community days, but couldn’t align my work schedule in a way that would allow me to take a class there when I was a young full-time teacher. Someone suggested I take a look at the John C. Campbell Folk School and it was absolute love at first sight. The week-long classes, offered year-round, were a dream come true.

I saved my pennies and booked a clay class over my spring break in 2005. I was teaching in a Haywood County public school and this class just lined up with my vacation days. Ted Cooley was our class assistant and two young women I knew from Asheville were the Hosts. I immediately saw the potential for myself there. I took a few more classes as a student, and then, in 2009, I served six months as Host. I was the last six-month host (the school went to a four-month system after that) but I wished it was still a 2-year position, as it was in Ellie Wilson’s time. I would have signed up instantly for that! [click to continue…]

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