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Folks School Stories: Tommye Scanlin

by Tipper Pressley on November 8, 2018

in Folk School Folks, Weaving

Having grown up just 12 miles down the road from Brasstown, many of Tommye Scanlin’s earliest scanlin photoFolk School memories date back to her youth. In the mid-1960s, she and her boyfriend would often catch a glimpse of campus on their way to the drive-in movie theater in Peachtree. Since those drive-in, drive by days, Tommye’s Folk School story has come full circle.

Tommye was officially introduced to Folk School classes by Bob Owens, a potter who also happened to be the head of the Art Department at North Georgia College where Tommye taught art and textiles. “I was learning about weaving at the time,” Tommye says, “trying very hard to figure it out on my own. In the summer of 1974, I had the chance to take a weaving class.” During her week as a student, she learned to read weaving drafts and added to her growing love of the craft. “With my newly gained knowledge, I doubled down on my weaving and within a year or so began to show and sell my woven works.”

By the late 1970s, Tommye was teaching at the Folk School. She held her first class as an instructor in the same place she took her first class as a student: the weaving room that was once housed in the History Center.

Since then, Tommye has enjoyed many return trips to Brasstown and has woven special memories into her story. “I was able to teach one summer during the same week as my department head, colleague, friend and mentor—Bob Owens.” She also relishes the many times she sat in Morningsong, listening to the Folk School story. “When Jan Davidson would end by leading the group in singing the chorus of ‘I’m as Free a Little Bird as I Can Be,’ it always brought a tear to my eye.”

When Tommye started supporting the school as a regular donor, it was largely because of her positive experience. “It was truly one of the places where I found inspiration and knowledge as I was starting my career as an artist and a teacher. I’ve seen the benefits it provides to those who take a class, even if they weren’t quite sure what they were embarking upon as the week began.”

We have seen it, too. Every week we meet first-timers and returning students who bring a willingness to stretch their creative boundaries—as free as they can be. Some follow Tommye’s path to a lifelong craft, while others enjoy trying something new every time. Offering those opportunities would not be possible without the support of donors who are the individual threads of our Folk School tapestry.

Tommye will warp her last loom as a weaving instructor in May 2019. We are grateful for her ongoing support, and we are honored to share her story with our Folk School family.


Jerry Jackson





The Folk School Cookbook Has Arrived!

by Keather Gougler on October 16, 2018

in Around Campus, Cooking, In the News


Weavers’ Work Week

by Cory Marie Podielski on October 16, 2018

in Fiber Arts, Interview, New & Noteworthy, The Dining Hall, Weaving

In our recent letter from Folk School Director Jerry Jackson, Weavers’ Work Week was featured in Janet Davis’ story (if you missed it, read the letter online here). I thought this would be a great time to talk to Pam Howard, the Folk School’s Resident Weaver, about this special week. Weavers’ Work Week is an annual tradition at the Folk School where skilled weavers are invited to come for a week and volunteer their time to do projects around campus and make improvements in the studio. Let’s learn more from Pam…

Pam Howard at the loom

CP: What is Weavers’ Work Week, and how did it start?

PH: The idea for Weavers’ Work Week started in 1992. A weaving teacher, Betty Hancock Smith and her weaving student, Dee Richard were talking about how hard it was sitting all week on the loom benches. Those two got to talking about what if weavers were invited to come to the school and weave fabric to make the cushions. They asked Jan Davidson, former director and Ruth Truett, former programs director. It was approved, and in the spring of 1993 the first Weavers’ Work Week happened.

I was assisting Betty in her weaving class in 1992, and I was the first weaver that was asked to participate. I have been to every one since. From 1993 to 2000, Betty was in charge of organizing the yearly event. In 2000, I became the Resident Weaver and took it over organizing it. Things went on fairly smoothly till 2008 when I had health issues and inherited relatives I had to take care of. After the dust settled and things had calmed down in my life, I thought it was time to restart the tradition of WWW. So, on February 4, 2015 I sent a letter to the “powers that be” and got Weavers’ Work Week back on the schedule.

Joe installs the colorful banners

CP: How was Weavers’ Work Week this year?

PH: Very colorful and productive! With a new director, Jerry Jackson, I went to him and asked if there was something he had in mind for us to weave for the school. Right away he said, new banners for the dinning hall. I said, “well this is not a woven project so maybe someone else should do it?” But Jerry had all the confidence that the Weavers could perform the task and we did, with flying colors!

CP: Tell me about the new pieces in the Dining Hall. What was the design process?

PH: This was ALL Jerry’s idea. Jerry described what he was thinking and then produced a colorful drawing. It was his design and vision. He and I went to Bless My Stitches quilt shop in Murphy, and with the owner’s help, we picked out 25 solid colors. Jerry came up with the idea of 25 colors for 1925 when the Folk School was created. The banners represent the rag coats that the Border Morris Sticks-in-the-Mud team members wear when dancing.

The new look of the Dining Hall with the colorful banners

[click to continue…]


When Janet Davis recently volunteered for Weavers’ Work Week, it was just her second visit to campus since her beloved husband, Jim, passed away in November 2017.

Much of her first visit in February, only three months after Jim’s funeral, “was taken up with just holding myself together.” Though it was an emotional time, Janet says that the people surrounding her made it easier. From our registration staff to her instructor to local friends, “It was like being wrapped in a warm blanket.”

Jim took his first woodcarving class at the Folk School in 1997, married Janet in 2000, and finally convinced his self-labeled “non-crafty” wife to try a weekend class in 2005. “The Folk School introduced me to the other side of my brain – like seeing in color for the first time,” Janet says. “Suddenly, I became a nerd who played music, who wove scarves and towels, who created stained glass panels (and even had commissions), and who made brooms. I was a nerd who knits. And spins.”

The Folk School became a regular and important part of Jim’s and Janet’s life. Their pre-retirement, annual week here allowed them to disconnect from the outside world, relax and focus on something different. Janet says, “We could feel the change in ourselves when we turned the corner by Clay’s. It’s as if the air at the school is different from the air in the rest of the world. I never could decide whether the Folk School is magical like Camelot, or whether it’s more like Brigadoon and only appears as we cross the bridge. Or perhaps it’s like the Room of Requirement from Harry Potter, becoming whatever Jim and I needed for that particular visit.”

While it’s difficult to be without Jim in a place that remains part of their story, each visit for Janet brings a little more comfort and a lot more creativity. During Weavers’ Work Week in July, she helped craft the colorful Sticks-in-the-Mud Morris Dance-inspired panels now hanging in our Dining Hall.

Together, Janet and Jim were long-time supporters of the Folk School. They volunteered time, donated helpful items, and made financial contributions. Jim loved working with wood and donated several lovely pieces to our auctions. Janet carries on their support and recently donated a fiddle to our Junior Appalachian Musicians program, helping local high school students learn to play traditional mountain music.

“Jim and I firmly believed the Folk School is a vital place that must be supported. We first did this by being frequent students. When the school created the endowment, we began to contribute that way, too. We wanted to ensure the school remains financially strong so this magical place continues. There are people in the world who don’t yet know how much they need the Folk School, and it’s important that it’s here when they do.”

Janet’s Folk School story is bittersweet, filled with both love and loss. We are honored to have been a place where she and Jim spent many a week in the joy of making, and we hope to be a place where Janet continues to create, to heal, and to see in color.


Jerry Jackson


Header photo by Nancy Cutrer.

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Calling Fall Festival Volunteers

by Kitty Taylor on August 30, 2018

in Fall Festival

This year’s Fall Festival is just around the corner on October 6 and 7, and we’re looking for volunteers to help us produce this special event.

For the past 44 years, we’ve celebrated our rich Appalachian heritage at Fall Festival, our fun-filled weekend featuring the craft of over 240 craftspeople, continuous live music and dance on two stages, craft demonstrations, food, and kids’ activities.

Volunteers work at our admission gates in 2.5-hour shifts on Saturday and/or Sunday. You’ll take cash, make change, and distribute admission wristbands and event programs.  Oh, and welcome everyone with a smile!

To thank you for your help, you’ll receive free admission to the festival, a free meal ticket, and an event t-shirt.

Email with the following information and we’ll put you on the list. We’ll be in touch later with final assignments and other details.

  • Your full name
  • Your email address
  • Your phone number
  • Day preference to work: Saturday and/or Sunday
  • Time preference to work: morning, mid-day, and/or afternoon
  • Are you under or over 21 years old? (anyone 16 or older is welcome to volunteer)

We’re looking forward to a great festival and welcome you to be an important part of it!