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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.


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).

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Come on down to the Folk School Fall Festival this weekend! Enjoy lively music and dance performances on two new stages, shop for fine crafts, and view over 40 craft demonstrations. Savor delicious food, and participate in many kids’ activities. The Fall Festival offers fun for the entire family.

paul_jccfs_ff_cp4_4749Date: October 1 & 2

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

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

Location: Folk School Campus
4590 Brasstown Road,
Brasstown, NC 28902

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

Parking: 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. [click to continue…]



Excitement is building in our Book & Paper Arts classes as the new studio construction is underway!

Next time you drive down Brasstown Rd., take a gander at the field by the Painting Studio and you will see construction in progress for our new Book & Paper Arts Studio.

The Folk School is approaching the end of the campaign for the new Book & Paper Arts Studio. We have been able to raise $483,490 out of our $508,000 goal and we hope to finalize the funding needed for this project in the coming months. The School has already broken ground on the structure and we plan to have the studio completed in 2017.


An artist’s rendition of the new Book and Paper Arts Studio by Harris Architects.

“The new studio literally opens the doors to expanded class offerings, with increased light and physical space to spread out on new workbenches, with square footage for new equipment we have dreamed of for years. In fact, the FS was awarded a grant to buy much-needed new equipment, including a letterpress for printmaking, a pulp vat and Hollander beater for papermaking, and an industrial rack for drying all kinds of papers and prints, to name just a few! There is much more awaiting you in this new building, and we hope to be opening the doors next year. I would like to thank all of the campaign donors for your generosity and commitment to expanding our corner of this unique school.”

Dea Sasso, Resident Artist of Book & Paper Arts, Printmaking, Marbling, & Calligraphy

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Folk School Director Jan Davidson wrote this letter to Folk School students shortly after the events of 9/11/2001.

November, 2001

Dear Friends:

Even these cool green hills shook.

It was a typical, which is to say wonderful, week at the Folk School. The trees were golden, the weather, varied. As usual, there was a slice of the world here. One hundred and three people of several colors, many faiths, ages 18-87, about 55 percent female, residents of 23 states. About a third were from southern Appalachia, and a dozen live in the local neighborhood. Two came from foreign countries and one from an overseas American military base.

Typical Folk School crowd: house painters, farmers, librarians and teachers. Engineers, nuns and cooks, bulldozer operators, CPAs and nurses. Doctors, lawyers, cops and musicians. Some were retired and some job tired. Some were on vacation, some on a mission. Mostly both. Every one of them was an artist, though some doubted it when they first got to Brasstown.

fs_flagThere were veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and of many nameless private wars against disease, ignorance, intolerance, and meanness in this world. And they were victors in battles for their families, their friends, their communities. Some were people of vast experience, and some were the younger folks, just starting to take over the world and whatever it will be. They arrived here on Sunday. Monday at MorningSong, I joked my way through a history of the Folk School and tried to make the point that the purpose was “A School to Bring Folks Together.”

Then came Tuesday. What I first heard on September 11 was Kate DeLong and Faith Hall in the office saying a plane had hit a World Trade Tower. What a bizarre accident, I thought.

I went to the edge of Little Brasstown Creek. I was sitting on a stump with a legal pad, trying to compose a fundraising letter to you. Nearby, the car radio told of the second plane. Suddenly it was not just tragic, but sinister.

At lunch, I made an announcement to our students about the tragedy. The blessing was the old Folk School favorite, “What a goodly thing if all the people of the earth could live together in peace.”

There were anxious moments for every person at the School. People had loved ones – parents, children, co-workers – near all three of the crash sites. We had a much-needed prayer service on Wednesday led by our neighbor, Rev. Aud Brown, pastor of the Little Brasstown Baptist Church.

By Thursday afternoon, parents at the school learned that their children in service had been deployed. Before the weekly concert on Friday night, Sister Judy Yunker, a work-study student, led a candlelight vigil and reminded us not to return hate with hate. I had the honor of introducing the band. “You can’t let people like that stop people like this,” I said, and pointed at Fletcher Bright the fiddler and his band of Tennesseans. They hit into one of those old tunes that pick people up and move them through time and space. They played their hearts out for a crowd of people that really needed to hear some good old mountain music.

New York and Brasstown. The contrasts could hardly be greater, at least within this country. Little old Brasstown learned with the world about community in the stark beauty of New York trying to save its people. Many were beyond rescue, but in the attempt was rescued something else – a true, strong spirit.

The attacks on our urban brothers and sisters were attacks against us, too. The Folk School is about freedom, growth, creativity, love and life – targets of these terrorists. These are also people who have destroyed historic treasures, banned artistic expression, denied education to women, and executed people for playing music. No matter what in the world you call that, we’ve got to be on the other side.

The Folk School is about hope for the future and faith in the good. It is not a frill, it is a necessity. The Folk School must be here for you, when you need it and it must endure.

I have been so proud of the employees, the students, and the friends who have pulled together. The “School to Bring Folks Together,” is working its magic during these difficult times.

Jan Davidson, Director


A Gingerbread House to Call Your Own

by Cory Marie Podielski on September 1, 2016

in Cooking, Featured Classes, Featured Teacher

Are you ever inspired during the holiday season and decide to try your hand at making a gingerbread house from scratch? Annnnnd then your dreams of edible decorative glory come crashing down when your gingerbread house looks more like a shanty shack than a storybook chalet? I’ve been there, and maybe you have too. Have no fear! Expert baker and cake decorator, Jodi Rhoden will be here to save the (holi)day with her upcoming weekend class: Handmade Gingerbread Houses.


Jodi and her son Jasper show off their gingerbread house creations.

GumDropCP: What do you like about gingerbread houses?

JR: The first time I ever made a gingerbread house, I was enchanted. I really felt like I wanted to become miniature and live inside the house! It feels completely magical and fantastical to create a little home out of candy and sweet gingerbread, and the smells, and textures (and of course, tastes, because there’s always scrap pieces of gingerbread that need to be eaten!) are uniquely pleasurable to the senses.


Photo by Nicole McConville

CP: Do you have to be architecturally skilled to make a good gingerbread house? Who is the ideal student for your class?

JR: You do not have to be architecturally skilled to build a gingerbread house! The icing and the candy make it very forgiving. Like most things worth doing, though, it does take time. We will spend a good amount of time in the planning phase, cutting and measuring templates to create the right sizes for the pieces. I also always like to bake extra pieces, in case something breaks or bakes wonky.

CP: Have you ever participated in the National Gingerbread house Competition is at the Grove Park Inn? Did the proximity of this annual event in Asheville influence your interest in gingerbread house making?

JR: It has always been my dream to enter a house into the competition at the Grove Park Inn, though up until now I have been too busy with my business, Short Street Cakes, to seriously consider it. But now that I have sold my business to my employee, this just might be the right time! [click to continue…]