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Come on down to the Folk School Fall Festival this weekend. Enjoy music and
dance performances on two stages, shop for unique craft and art made by local and regional artisans, and view live craft demonstrations. Enjoy delicious food, and participate in many kids’ activities. The Fall Festival offers fun for the entire family.

Fall Festival 2017 Details

Date: October 7 & 8

Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Daily admission:
$5 adults, $3 ages 12-17, and free for children under 12

John C. Campbell Folk School
4590 Brasstown Road
Brasstown, NC 28902

GPS coordinates:
35˚ 2’ 21.28” N; 83˚ 57’ 50.2” W
(View us on Google Maps)

Lots of free parking and shuttle service. Donations accepted (see below).

Please note: There are no ATMs on campus. Most craft vendors accept credit/debit cards, but you will need cash for your entry tickets and food items. Please leave your dogs at home.

Over 250 Fine Craft Vendors

Festivalgoers will meander along tree-lined paths, greeting over 250 local and regional artisans showcasing their work for sale.

Browsers will enjoy a wide selection of craft items including wood, fiber, jewelry, naturals, glass, clay, photography, metal, book arts, painting, garden arts, and more!

Remember, there are no ATMs on campus. While many vendors accept credit/debit cards, attendees are encouraged to bring cash to pay for tickets and food.

Music & Dance on Two Stages

During Fall Festival weekend, music and dance lovers will be entertained by performance stages. The Festival Barn Stage, and the Shady Grove stage in the woods near the Craft Shop, will host musicians and dancers of varied genres.
Talented regional musicians will share old time, country, bluegrass, gospel, Celtic, and Blues songs with the audience.
Appalachian cloggers and Morris dancers will delight everyone with their intricate footwork.

Craft Demonstrations

Visitors are invited to watch over 30 traditional and contemporary craft demonstrations. Each talented artisan will showcase techniques and offer intriguing insights while bringing their work to life.
Download the festival program to view the demonstration sites for spinning, dyeing, book arts, calligraphy, marbling, wood engraving, quilting, weaving, blacksmithing, clay, jewelry, tinsmithing, woodcarving, basketry, broom making, chair seats, and woodturning.
The Brasstown Fire Department will demonstrate several valuable fire prevention techniques.

Children’s Activities

Children will be engaged by face painting, pony rides, and other fun activities.
Animal-loving kids and adults will gravitate to the Valley River Humane Society’s pet adoption exhibit, where they’ll meet appealing dogs eager to find their forever homes.
At the Cherokee County Arts Council’s Kids’ Art tents, near the gardens and petting zoo, kids can enjoy a free art project (or two). They’ll choose from puzzle making, mask making, bead stringing, simple drawing and coloring, felting, leaf or quilt block collages, and Halloween decoration making.

Quilting & Visual Arts Exhibitions

This year’s Fall Festival has special significance, as the Folk School has dedicated the event to the North Carolina Arts Council’s 50th birthday celebration. The Folk School’s enduring commitment to the arts is evident in two special exhibitions showcasing the School’s Visual Arts and Quilting and Surface Design Programs.
Davidson Hall will house works by Painting, Drawing, and Mixed Media instructors. The Pitman Fiber Arts Building will feature a display of over 30 traditional and contemporary quilts made by the school’s Quilting instructors.

Getting Here & Parking

Parking is free and abundant. Take advantage of a free on-campus shuttle bus courtesy of Cherokee County Transit. These spacious, well-equipped vehicles will travel between parking areas and the Craft Shop and Festival Barn gates. Handicapped parking is available in the gravel lot by Keith House and by the Fiber Arts Building.
While parking is free, the Murphy High School Shooting Team will manage the on-campus parking. Donations are encouraged, with proceeds help the team to learn shooting sports in a safe, positive environment.

Enter to Win a $100 Gift Certificate

Visit the Craft Shop during the Fall Festival, and enter to win a $100 Gift Certificate for the Craft Shop. The Folk School’s Craft Shop showcases the work of more than 300 juried craftspeople.
Pick up your 43rd Fall Festival shirt at the tent in front of the Craft Shop. Available in a wide variety of colors (pictured below Vintage Red, Black, and Vintage Navy) and adult sizes (while supplies last). Not available online.
Short Sleeve – $15
Long Sleeve – $25

Win a Free Class

Visit the Folk School Information Booth in the Festival Barn. Enter to win a free class of your choice.
Select from many five- or six-day classes in our catalog, available at the Information Booth.
You can also search for classes online, or browse for classes in our Catalog eBook.



Collograph with Feather and Fabric

Last month’s printmaking class didn’t go as I’d planned.

The class was “Printmaking Paradise,” a survey of techniques, taught by Sally and Dick Walsh. In class, Sally taught us a few techniques each day. Some used the printing press, and some we could do at home with no fancy equipment. Sally encouraged us to have fun: to try everything but to go with the techniques we resonated with.

On day one, we tackled collagraphs. They seemed simple enough: spread ink onto a piece of matte board, lay found objects on top, cover with paper, and run the whole thing through the printing press. The first print will be a little sloppy, but the second and third will have more defined features, showing the textures of the objects. Sally’s example had a beautifully detailed feather printed on it.

I waited with eager fingers for my print to roll through the press. Then I peeled it off the board. My feather had printed as a disappointing white blotch: not enough ink. “Make another one!” Dick suggested, so I did, this time gopping on the ink under my feather. You can’t understand the process until you do it, I thought. Why did I expect things to be perfect the first time? [click to continue…]


Happy Labor Day!

by Cory Marie Podielski on September 4, 2017

in Holidays, This Week at the Folk School

This is the poem that inspired our moto “I sing Behind the Plow” which reflects our desire to find joy in our daily lives.


If turning your vacation to the Folk School into an exploration of travel photography sounds like a dream exploration, be sure to check out our upcoming class Wanderlust: The Art of Travel Photography taught by Elizabeth Larson. Elizabeth has been a professional photographer for 26 years. She specializes in documentary wedding photography, lifestyles, natural portraiture, travel, and editorial work. Join Elizabeth on our pastoral 300-acre campus in the Appalachian Mountains and learn how to capture the spirit of your travels through the camera lens. Enjoy our interview and find out a little more about Elizabeth!

Courtyard at Castello di Colognole, Greve in Chianti, Tuscany. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

CP: How did you get started in photography?

EL: Inspired by my dad, who is a retired travel writer & photojournalist now, I decided to take a semester of beginning photography in college & started working part-time in a camera store. Then I moved into assisting well-established photographers, both commercial & wedding/portrait and the rest is history. I got hooked!

View from gardens at Castello di Colognole overlooking vineyards and olive groves. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

CP: What is your favorite subject matter to shoot?

EL: In my spare time, I love to photograph flowers/plants/gardens and travel photography, whenever I get the opportunity. I enjoy photographing people too, but this is what I do professionally full time (weddings, portraits, headshots, events). The other aspect of photography is what I do for fun and inspiration. However, I have been paid for some of my work when it comes to travel & garden photography. I also have a current show of my travel photography at a local winery, and those prints are for sale. In addition, I have a photo on the same NC Winery/Vineyard’s wine label & they’ve used it every year since 2009. I’m an avid gardener and I love to travel and photography is another love so putting them together makes sense.

CP: Nikon or Canon?

EL: Canon photographer. I had the opportunity to shoot with a Nikon earlier this summer and I admit I liked it! However, it’s too late to switch. I have too much invested in Canon! I still love my Leica CL film camera and I have a Pentax K1000 that I occasionally run B&W infrared film through.

CP: What is your favorite lens? What is always in your gear bag?

EL: I use my 24-70mm/f2.8 “L” lens most often but also love my 80-200mm/f 2.8 “L” lens but it’s so heavy! Also an old favorite is my 100mm Macro 2.8 lens for close ups. I always have back-up equipment in my bag, plenty of batteries, and memory cards. Back-up equipment is crucial when you photograph weddings.

[click to continue…]


Eclipse viewers congregated near the vegetable garden for a view of the big event. Photo by David Baker.

When I heard about the eclipse, I immediately thought of watching it in Brasstown: I have friends to stay with, I know where there’s a big, open field, and it’s always nice to be in a special place for a celestial event. So Saturday afternoon, I headed down the road with two friends, Dane and Jessica.

Folks congregated near the garden gate.

Throughout the day Sunday, more and more people—friends and strangers—arrived at the house until it felt like a large family gathering. On Monday at noon, we walked over to the Folk School and laid out a picnic blanket on the edge of the gardens. If you didn’t get to see the eclipse, here’s what happened.

Crescent shadows on the Rainbow Bridge near the Rivercane Walk.

At 1:05 it began. Everyone put on their eclipse glasses and watched the first tiny edge of the moon appear at the top-right of the sun. Everyone snapped photos of everyone else watching. Someone had a special telescope. Dane taped eclipse glasses to a pair of binoculars. After a minute, I’d retreat to the shade, only to find myself back out there, checking the sun, a moment later. As more of the sun disappeared, people spread white sheets to observe the crescent shaped spots of sun filtering through the trees, or held up pinholes to cast a crescent onto the ground.

At first, the daylight didn’t seem different. I was surprised by how little of the sun it took to make the day bright; even when the sun had been reduced to a crescent, the light seemed almost normal. It did get a little cooler, though, so at 2 p.m. I ventured out into the field. More and more viewers were gathering at the edge of the garden, and I liked the relative silence in the field. When Dane and Jessica joined me, we walked out to the ever-present Folk School hay bales and climbed on.

Eclipse watchers by the Cooking Studio watch as the moon just begins to touch the edge of the sun. Photo by Pam East.

John Clarke, Folk School Building & Grounds Manager stands in the field to watch the eclipse by the hay bales. Photo by Karen Hurtubise.

Around 2:20, the light began to noticeably dim. The barn swallows flew out from their nests at Davidson Hall, swooping to catch insects, but after a minute, they retreated, perhaps realizing that something was not quite right. All around the horizon, the sky grew pink, like a 360 degree sunset. Only a fingernail of sun remained. I took off my glasses because I wanted to watch the darkness set in. Venus appeared overhead, along with two or three other bright stars or planets. Then, in the direction of Field House, there was a deeper darkness, like a menacing storm covering the trees; you could imagine you saw the shadow coming. Then the sun went out.

I looked overhead (no eclipse glasses, time: 2:34:29) and saw the final brightness of the sun still shining out from the left side of the moon. It dimmed and went out, and for a moment everything looked dark, and then the white corona of the sun appeared, with the black disk of the moon at its center.

Near Totality at the Folk School. Photo by Liz Domingue.

The corona wasn’t symmetric; there was a complete ring, but it smeared out on the right side, and farther out on the left. It looked unlike anything I’d ever seen. And it was up in the sky—there was no way it was being projected or imitated. It wasn’t like looking at a photo of an eclipse, because there was so much space around it, a whole sky’s worth.

Sara Boggs looks at the eclipse in totality.

A collective gasp/shout went up from the crowd. I might have whooped. Next to me, Jessica repeated, “That’s so amazing. That’s so amazing,” over and over. But everyone knew we only had 2 minutes and 26 seconds, so no one moved. I looked around at the deep twilight colors—it hadn’t gone pitch black, and only the few bright stars were visible—and then I looked back at the eclipse.

It seemed far too soon when the sky to the right of the moon began to brighten. “Here it comes!” someone warned. A few seconds later, the sunlight burst through. I ducked my head and donned my eclipse glasses, then checked the reappearing sun. But then I found myself taking the glasses off, to see the eclipse again. “I can’t,” I told myself. “It’s gone.” Around me, the darkness was fading fast, the hot sunlight returning. Already it felt over. It felt like the day after my birthday, if I were going to live forty more years and never have another birthday.

David Baker in his festive eclipse garb.

Dane & Emily on the hay bales, post-totality.

There was something real about the eclipse, and later I thought in the same way there is something real about the Folk School. I couldn’t rewind 15 seconds to watch it a little bit more, the same way you cannot hit “undo” when your pottery collapses on the wheel or you break the antler off your deer carving. You must go carefully. Of course, someone could probably simulate a pretty good solar eclipse in a theater, with lights dimming and a small breeze blowing. In the same way, you can buy a machine-woven blanket or a five-dollar basket made by a poorly paid woman churning baskets out in a third-world country. But it’s not the same as a craft handmade with love and care. There’s something deeper that cannot be imitated. We were there at the eclipse with family, sharing the experience. And the eclipse was viewed in the wide-open sky. You might recreate the look of it, but not the soul.

As we came down from the hay bales and shared our thoughts, someone mentioned a friend who’d declined to watch, saying eclipses were nothing special. I could see being disappointed if you stepped away from the office at 2:30, expecting to be awed by the highlight reel of the event. Like a craft, the eclipse was a process, and we’d been there at the start, in tune and watching.

Students in Pam East’s jewelry class made beautiful eclipse-themed pendants for the occasion. Photo by Pam East.




EmilyBuehlerEmily Buehler is the author of this blog and a frequent bread instructor at the Folk School. She became a bread baker in 2001, intending to take a break after finishing a degree in chemistry. Six months later she began teaching bread classes. Emily has written two books: one on bread making called Bread Science, and one about her bicycle trip across America called Somewhere and Nowhere. Visit Emily’s website for more information.

Emily will be teaching bread making class again in October 2017.





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