Rags to Riches with JoEl Levy LoGiudice

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. Continue reading Rags to Riches with JoEl Levy LoGiudice

Heavy Metal


You don’t have to be a hard rock fan to enjoy metal at the Folk School. Our blacksmithing, metalworking, jewelry making, and enameling classes showcase metal’s diverse personalities along with functional and decorative styles. Learn to hammer and shape iron or steel into sturdy hooks, striking candlesticks, or mighty axes. Or, create intricate necklaces, brooches, rings, and beautiful decorative pieces. Join us for a weeklong or weekend class, and begin building your own satisfying relationship with metal.

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What’s a Hobo Nickel?

Tom Patterson has been a hand engraver and metalsmith for more than 50 years. Starting in his father’s shop at age 14, he has been a lifelong student of metals and their manipulation. Currently, Tom continues his studies from his home studio in the mountains of western NC, where he fabricates artifacts of astonishing peculiarity. His upcoming class Hand Engraving-Hobo Nickels caught my eye as a very unique class. Unsure of what a hobo nickel is, I resisted the urge to google and decided to sit down with Tom and find out a bit more about the class. Enjoy our interview!

Hobo nickel by renowned original era carver Bertram “Bert” Wiegand

CP: What is a hobo nickel?

TP: It’s a modified Indian Head Buffalo nickel and the profile of the Indian or the buffalo on either side has been modified to be something else. It was commonly used by hobos during the Great Depression to increase the value of a nickel. They could trade it for a ride, buy a meal, or buy off a train cop. People started liking hobo nickels and then coin collectors start to collect hobo nickels. Some of nickels created by carvers during the Depression Era became so valuable that modern people, who had some engraving ability, began to buy nickels from coin dealers to copy and counterfeit these original hobos. The counterfeit artist would get the big bucks for their “collectable” nickel. They were discovered, and instead of being discredited, they were celebrated and collected for their own abilities. So today, even though it is definitely a niche, there are a lot of hobo nickel carvers. One of the famous carvers, he had this little kit, or box, of his handmade tools, and it went to auction a few years back and it sold for $9000. The old original nickels are worth thousands of dollars now and some of the new nickels are worth a lot of money too. Continue reading What’s a Hobo Nickel?

Living a Crafty Life: My Interview with Kay Patterson

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Kay teaching int the Jewelry Studio
Kay teaching in the Jewelry Studio

Kay and Tom Patterson are teaching Hand Engraving here in the Jewelry Studio this week. You can find Kay teaching many times throughout the year at the Folk School in a variety of subjects including Jewelry, Metalwork, Felt Making, Enameling, and Shoe Making. She also supports the school’s Enameling and Hot/Warm Glass programs as Studio Assistant. I sat down with Kay to learn a little bit more about her life, inspirations, and her crafts. Enjoy our interview!

CP: How did you first become involved with the Folk School?

KP: Tom and I had moved here in 1992 from southern Oregon and didn’t even know about the Folk School at the time. At the time, Tom was working as a hand engraver for a signet ring company. That allowed use to live anywhere we wanted to because his work was all by mail. I was working for a florist when I got word that the Folk School wanted someone to answer the phone on the weekends (this was before the era of cell phones). When I worked one Saturday overnight, I stayed Keith House and the dance was happening. I met people in the community and would watch the dancing, and that was the first thing that got me curious about the Folk School. I was interested in both craft and music.

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A variety of recycled jewelry pieces made out of copper and recycled materials (L-R: Pin by Kay; hair pin made by Leah Dolgoy, a student’s pin in progress).

Continue reading Living a Crafty Life: My Interview with Kay Patterson

Fire It Up!


Fire shapes, molds, melts, cooks, burns, and cures. Many traditional crafts (think Blacksmithing, Cooking, Glass, Enameling, and Clay) rely on fire to make magical transformations possible. Come light up at the Folk School and learn how fire can mold raw material in beautiful fine craft pieces.

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