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Painting by Sara Boggs

Every time I see Sara Boggs around campus, like a giddy child, I ask her: “Can I see your sketchbook?” She always says “yes.” You see, Sara is one of those artists who constantly carries her handmade sketchbook around, capturing tiny moments of life here and there – taking the time to practice and develop her drawing ability everyday. It has been incredible to see her book grow with the faces, places, and the spirit of the Folk School during her host term this fall. She permitted me to scan in some pages from her book to share with you. We also sat down over cookies and tea to talk about her experience as host and artistic journaler.

Sara in the Folk School Painting Studio

Sara in the Folk School Painting Studio

CP: You were recently a character in the night of Holiday Revelry hosted by David Vowell. Who did you play?

SB: I got to play a couple of different characters: an all around reveler drinking wassail, the Little Pickle Boy in one of the tales about St. Nicholas, and Jack the Green in the mummer’s play. Jack’s character is traditionally full of mischief! In our play, Jack the Green saves the day in the story of St. George and the Dragon.

CP: Very nice. So you are wrapping up your host term at the Folk School? What’s been your favorite part of being host? 

SB: It’s the people… it’s for sure the people. Every week, I get to meet all of these wonderful people with amazing stories and wonderful things that they have done. They are all so sweet and encouraging – they make me feel like this world we have here that’s not quite real life – this fairy tale world that’s all fiddle music and blacksmith coal – is something that we can carry always. It’s been really wonderful to meet them all.

CP: Do you have any specific memories that resonate with you?

SB: There have been quite a few. Maybe it was because it was so early on in my time here, but one that sticks out is a magical cooking class dinner party. The class was a wood fired cooking class and they had their Thursday night dinner outside on picnic tables, with candle light torches. There was wine, and ukelele music, and a beautiful pink sunset overhead… little dogs came wandering through. It was slow and delicious. I wasn’t even supposed to be there, I was just crashing, but they let me crash. It was a lovely evening and I felt like it was the right way to start off my foot here.

Page from Sarah's sketchbook: Thursday night dinner party for the Cooking Class

Page from Sara’s sketchbook: Thursday night dinner party for the Cooking Class

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Wood Fired Cooking: Falling in Love with Falling Heat

by Nanette Davidson, Resident Artist in Cooking on December 16, 2014

in Cooking, Featured Classes, Featured Teacher

Student Matt waits in front of the outdoor wood fired oven adjacent to the Cooking Studio while his artisan loaves bake.

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Nanette in the Cooking Studio

Love the magic and allure of the wood fired flame? Do you savor the flavor of food cooked in a brick oven? The Cooking Studio at the John C. Campbell Folk School has not one, but two, wood fired brick ovens for students to bake all sorts of savory and sweet treats, from flatbreads and loaves, to roasted meats, fish & vegetables, to delicious curries & stews, and even pies, cakes & gingerbread cookies.

In 1998, when I was asked to become the first Resident Artist for Cooking at the Folk School, I was eager to learn the art of wood fired baking in our brand new Woodstone Domed Pizza Oven which was installed in the Cooking Studio on the ground floor of Davidson Hall. We recognized the growing revival of interest in wood fired baking and we wanted to make these techniques available to our own community. A few years later, we added the second outdoor student-built oven, housed under a student-built timber-framed pavilion. Clay instructor, Mary Dashiell and her husband John designed and led the construction of that oven.

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The Brasstown Morris Teams in England. Carl and trombone are on the far left.

The Brasstown Morris Teams in England. (Carl and his red trombone are on the far right.)

There are all sorts of traditions that are alive and well at the Folk School. The Brasstown Fire Department always brings the firetruck to spray down all the children during Little/Middle Folk School, we always dance the Salty Dog Rag during the evening break at Saturday night dances, and the Brasstown Brigade always helps us bring in the New Year with their black powder muskets. One of my favorite Folk School traditions is the Brasstown Follies, the talent show that happens each Winter Dance Week the night before New Years Eve. For as long as I’ve been coming to Winter Dance Week, the Follies have been organized and MC’ed by Carl Dreher – dancer, musician, magician, and all around Brasstown enthusiast. So enthusiastic, in fact, that he and his wife Charlotte Bristow recently retired and decided to move here from Texas. Let’s meet Carl…

Carl & Charlotte at Kenilworth Castle. Photo by Julie B. Hearne.

Carl & Charlotte at Kenilworth Castle.
Photo by Julie B. Hearne.

CC: When did you first start coming to the Folk School? Was it for Winter Dance Week, or to take another class?

CD: I believe it was 1993. I saw an ad for Winter Dance Week in the Country Dance & Song Society (CDSS) newsletter, and saw that Bob Dalsemer (the Music and Dance Coordinator at the Folk School at the time) was in charge. I knew Bob from serving on the Board of CDSS, and that was all the recommendation I needed to know that it would be a fun week. So I loaded up my truck and drove out. Except for one year when my wife Charlotte and I decided to stay home for Christmas (a big mistake, I SO missed everyone!) and one year when I was sick, we’ve been coming continuously since then.

CC: Tell us about your interest in music and dance? What musical instruments do you play and what kinds of dance have you done?

CD: I’ve always had music in my life, with my parent’s encouragement. Neither of them played any instruments that I can remember, although I still have my dad’s harmonica. My parents loved German music and bought my brother an accordion…is that child abuse?…but he didn’t take to it, so I picked it up. (Not easy…it was a full 120-bass “Billy Baldwin” Har-har.)

I started the trombone in 7th grade. (My parent’s reaction was “What? The trombone?! But you have an accordion!”) I continued playing it all the way through college and then grad school at the University of Virginia. There was a very fine concertina player at U.Va., which inspired me later to buy an instrument and some books and learn it. The melodeon came next out of necessity, since I wanted to start a Cotswold Morris side and I was the only musician (that’s being self-flattering) in the group. Next on the list are the banjo and the ukelele, which are hiding in a closet, waiting to be unleashed on the unsuspecting world. I intend to make use of Folk School classes to get started on those. Wow, accordion, trombone and banjo. The Big Three of social-pariah instruments.

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Handmade Catalog Paper Decorations

by Cory Marie Podielski on December 14, 2014

in Book Art, Paper Art & Printmaking, Holidays

In the spirit of a handmade holiday, many ornaments and garlands hanging around the school were created from past Folk School catalogs. The new 2015 Folk School Catalog arrives this week, so we encourage you to re-purpose your 2014 Folk School catalog to make crafty and inexpensive holiday decorations with your family and friends.

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Tiny house ornaments

A pinwheel wreath made out of old Folk School catalog pages

A pinwheel wreath made out of old Folk School catalog pages

The intention is to re-purpose our beautiful catalog in a way that would allow a lot of people to participate at very little expense. It was an opportunity to look at the wonderful photographs and design layout with a different eye and to use the actual paper it was printed on in an unpretentious but artful way.

I am really happy that people got behind this and had fun with it, which was also the goal – to have fun making things together that could be shared by the community. Some of our makers could actually cut out pictures of themselves and their craft or the craft of those they love. We are uniquely tied to this paper as a medium.

-Nanette Davidson

Dapper dandy dancers line the windows of the Community Room.

Dapper dandy dancers line the windows of the Community Room.

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Pinwheel flowers created from 2014 catalogs look lovely nestled in the laurel leaves.

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Flock of colorful catalog chickens

We have fun making decorations with recycled materials here at the Folk School. We hope you will take some inspiration from our creations, and maybe come up with some creations of your own!

Download the Folk School Chicken Ornament Template to create your own festive flock.

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I had the pleasure of having my first ever Folk School Quilting class taught by one firecracker of a quilter, Audrey Hiers of Blairsville, GA. This lovely lady has been picked to be featured in McCall’s “Quilting” Magazine 6 times and her “Crazy Dazies” designs is a McCall’s pick of their top 16 scrap quilts. She is teaching “Appalachian Holiday Quilts” during Holiday in the Mountains Week, December 7-13. I caught up with Audrey about quilting and more. Enjoy our chat!

Detail of "It's Fall, Y'all: Fun Scrappy Autumn Quilt" by Audrey Hiers

Detail of “It’s Fall, Y’all: Fun Scrappy Autumn Quilt” by Audrey Hiers

Audrey teaches Sara about quilt design in the Folk School Quilting Studio.

Audrey teaches Sara about quilt design in the Folk School Quilting Studio.

CP: How did you get so involved in the quilting world?

AH: Probably because of the quilting genes in the family. Both of my grandmothers quilted and although I never saw either of them at the frame, I do believe in heredity! You could say I fell into it, and once I tried it, I got hooked big time. I seriously started quilting in the early 80s and taught my first class in 1987.

CP: Has quilting changed since then?

Comparing quilting 1980s to now is like the difference between night and day. For the most part we still use fabric and that’s about it.

CP: What’s your favorite holiday motif?

AH: My favorite holiday motif is a sprig of freshly cut pine with holly sprigs mixed in. Alone, it would be a holly leaf.

CP: How is Appalachian style quilting different from quilting in other regions? Does it have any distinctive characteristics? [click to continue…]

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