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Kick Your Heels Up for Clogging

by Cory Marie Podielski on January 4, 2015

in Featured Classes, Music & Dance

Folk School Cloggers perform on the Fall Festival Barn Stage

Folk School Cloggers perform on the Fall Festival Barn Stage

With the arrival of 2015, exercise, learning, and self-improvement are on all our minds right now. A clogging class at the Folk School is a great way to learn something new, all while getting your heart rate up at the same time. Clogging is unique because you move to the rhythm and also interpret the music to create percussion with your feet… we like to call clogging “old-time aerobics” up here in the mountains.

Come learn more about these traditional percussive dance styles in three exciting weekend clogging classes scheduled in 2015:

Emolyn clogs on the Fall Festival Stage with Jamie Laval

Emolyn on the Fall Festival Stage with Jamie Laval

Appalachian Clogging
Emolyn Liden
(February 27-March 1)

Start a joyful hobby that is great exercise, too. Join Emolyn, who has been dancing her entire life, to learn a variety of percussive steps and short group routines to wonderful, live fiddle music. You’ll soon be dancing to your heart’s content! The only requirement is a basic level of fitness to stand and be active for a couple of hours at a time.

Emolyn is a Brasstown native. Exposed constantly to traditional music and dance, she started clogging and contra dancing at a very young age and has not stopped pursuing her love of different forms of dance. She has danced with the Cane Creek Cloggers of Chapel Hill, the Green Grass Cloggers of Asheville, with fiddler Jamie Laval, and with Cape Breton step-dancing team, The Twisty Cuffs. Enjoy her blog at

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Shoe Making Never “Felt” So Good

by Cory Marie Podielski on December 30, 2014

in Featured Classes, Unique Offerings

A variety of felted footwear created in Kay and Peggy's class.

A variety of felted footwear created in Kay Patterson and Peggy Patrick’s class.

Bonnie works on her felted shoe.

Bonnie works on her felted shoe.

We are kicking off our 2015 year with many great classes including Handmade Felt Shoes & Boots with Kay Patterson and Peggy Patrick (January 4-10). We love to see the wild, colorful and creative shoes that come out of this popular class.

Each student will make a pair of cozy, custom-fit felt shoes or boots. Use wet-feltmaking techniques to construct colorful uppers, and then discover how to attach a durable, wearable sole. You may add embellishments to your felt through beading, appliqué, or needle felting. Expect to complete at least one pair of shoes or boots in class. Register today!

If you are interested in making shoes with leather uppers check out the additional shoe making classes scheduled in 2015 at the Folk School:

A line-up of completed shoes from Chuck  & Peggy's class

A line-up of completed shoes from Chuck & Peggy’s class

Comfortable, handmade, thin-soled leather shoes by Michael Ismerio

Shoes by Michael Ismerio

10th-century Scandinavian-style Turn Shoe
Michael Ismerio • March 22-28

Tread the earth in comfortable, handmade, thin-soled leather shoes custom-fit to your feet. Using American bison leather for the uppers and recycled rubber soles, learn the necessary steps of pattern making, leather working, and hand sewing to create a pair of shoes that could last a lifetime.

Due to the intensive nature of this project, expect some evening hours. Scandinavian Heritage Week honors the Folk School’s roots, inspired by “folkehøjskole” of these northern European countries. In the company of newfound friends, you will enjoy special food, music, dance, and craft traditional to the region.

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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.


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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