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Photography by Sarah Altendorf  at Pleasant Hill Shaker village. Pleasant Hill, KY.

Photography by Sarah Altendorf at Pleasant Hill Shaker village. Pleasant Hill, KY.

In preparation for my upcoming class “Shaker Music & More” I decided to go on an adventure early this summer to explore several Shaker Villages located in New England.

My first stop was Albany, NY.  I rented a car and trekked to Shaker Village, Sabbathday Lake.  It was a rainy afternoon in northern Maine, but my spirit was soon lifted by conversations with Michael S. Graham, director of the Sabbathday Lake Village Museum for The United Society of Shakers in Gloucester.  It was a special treat to meet Brother Michael, one of three remaining practicing Shakers.  I collected several enlightening resources from their gift shop and Brother Michael presented me with a cassette recording (remember those from the past century?) of Sister R. Mildred Barker sharing “Early Shaker Spirituals.”

My next stop was a great visit with Lesley Herzberg, curator of the Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, Massachusetts .  I had the great fortune to experience their terrific music presentation filled with song and dance and, yes, I even danced in their meeting house to an almost frenzy!

Hancock Shaker Village, Berkshires, Western Massachusetts, USA.  Photography by Richard Taylor

Hancock Shaker Village, Western Massachusetts. Photography by Richard Taylor

Other stops included meeting Samantha & Starlyn at the Shaker Heritage Society in Albany, NY  who shared their wealth of knowledge about the musical traditions of the Shakers and invited me to visit the grave site of Sister Anne which is located at the perimeter of the Albany airport – very interesting.  Also, Dr. Roger L. Hall, a Shaker Music Scholar who lives in Stoughton, MA has been most helpful in providing additional resources and overall encouragement toward the preservation and enjoyment of Shaker Music tradition.

I look forward to being part of this incredible week at the John C. Campbell Folk School and in addition to experiencing the traditional, we may create a few hymns/anthems of our own! Bring along any inspirational texts that we may set to our own music.

Hope to see you there!


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Craft Shop October Event Enjoyed By All

by June Rollins on October 25, 2014

in Craft Shop

On Thu., Oct. 23rd, The Craft Shop hosted Falling In Love With Fall from 4:45-6pm. Students, staff, instructors and visitors enjoyed wine, music and surprise discounts!

Thank you to Crane Creek Vineyards for providing several wonderful choices for our wine-tasting!

Thank you to Instructor, Janita Baker, and her students for providing sweet, mountain dulcimer music!

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Rag Rug Weaving on ole’ Brownie

Over a year ago, I decided to try my hand at a weekend weaving class in which I would weave a scarf. I was really excited. The first weaving class I took was Weave a Scarf – Intro Class with instructor Elaine Bradley. It was a fast paced class and ended up with a beautiful woven scarf using a crammed and spaced weaving technique.

Fast forward to this past week. I was a student in Rag Rug Weaving, instructed by Christine Rogers. This was my first time weaving a Rag Rug. I had my prepared fabrics and had in my mind what I wanted my Rag Rug to look like.

Sunday evening all the students in our class got acquainted and talked about our weaving experiences. Our class had beginners and seasoned weavers that were great inspiration.

Monday and Tuesday were the decision days.  First, we discussed different types of weaves, and then decided on the size and type of weave that we would use to make our rugs. We selected our carpet warp yarn colors and wrapped our warp boards and readied our selected loom to warp. I spent Tuesday warping the loom with a beautiful purple and teal colored carpet warp yarn. To be honest, I was tired at the end of the day but looking forward to finally getting to weave on Wednesday.

I was throwing a shuttle with my strips of fabric rags using a plain weave on Wednesday afternoon with anticipation of what my rug was going to evolve into.


Rag Rug


By Friday morning, I was wide open trying to get the rug done so I could cut off before the end of class and get the rug hemmed. As everyone in class worked on completing their beautiful woven pieces, they already were chatting about what weaving class to take next.

So if any of you think, I can’t possibly do that… Yes you can! And I plan to continue with my fascination of weaving.

If you are interested in a week or weekend weaving class visit our website for more information.




I stopped by the Oscar Cantrell Blacksmith Shop, the current shop of Resident Blacksmith, Paul Garrett. Paul and I talked about the upcoming Blacksmith & Fine Craft Auction on November 1, a special event planned for October 31st, and about Folk School life in general. Enjoy!

Come see blacksmiths in action forging items in the Clay Spencer Blacksmith Shop on October 31 at 7 p.m. Items created will be auctioned off the following day.

See blacksmiths in action forging items in the Clay Spencer Blacksmith Shop on October 31 at 7 p.m. Items created will be auctioned off the following day at the Blacksmith & Fine Craft Auction.

CP: So, the Blacksmith & Fine Craft Auction is coming up on November 1. I hear there’s going to be a new special event on Friday night. Can you talk about that?

PG: I can. Traditionally, there has been a joint meeting of the Appalachian Area Chapter of Blacksmiths (AACB) and NC ABANA at the Folk School during the auction weekend. The meeting is on Saturday morning, bright and early.

Fire place set forged at the "Hammer In" 2013

Fire place set forged at the “Hammer In” 2013

I had been trying to think of a way to expand the meeting and make it more appealing for smiths to stay over on Friday night. Last year, we tried a small invitational Friday night “Hammer In” (A “Hammer In” is where blacksmiths get together and make things collaboratively). It went really well. We made a few things for the auction, including a fireplace set, and it was encouraging enough to try it again this year.

I put the word out to members of the blacksmith chapters and we are expecting quite a few smiths on the evening of October 31st. We are opening the shop up to auction goers to come and see what’s involved in the work and to observe how the items are handcrafted. I believe it will add value and interest to the pieces if folks can see the forging process.

Tim Ryan is going to have a kettle of cooked goodness to offer up for a small cost per bowl. It’s gonna be fun! We are going to have a few set projects: a fire tools set and maybe a sculptural piece. Blacksmiths can forge smaller items too. It’ll be a good crowd.

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I stopped by the Yarn Circle to speak with Charlotte Crittenden to talk about calling and dancing. Charlotte, a Brasstown local, is a regular caller at the Folk School on Tuesday and Saturday night dances. She is a popular regional caller who has recently called at Old Farmer’s Ball, River Falls, Grey Eagle, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Charleston, Charlotte, Sautee and more! Enjoy our interview…


Charlotte calls a contra dance in the Community Room.

CP: How long have you been calling at the Folk School?

CC: I came to the Folk School as a Work/Study in the winter of 2006 and I took Bob Dalsemer’s Dance Callers’ Workshop that summer. So technically I’ve been calling since 2006, but I wasn’t calling regularly ’till a little time after that.

CP: Why did you get into dance calling? 

CC: I’d been a contra dancer for a long time. When I was in elementary, high school and college I was involved in other kinds of dance, so I’ve always had a history of being interested in dancing. I wanted to be a provider of the activity as opposed to just a consumer. Recognizing that my skills as a musician might be a little lacking (laughs), I embraced calling as the next fun way I could be able to do that.

Charlotte & Charlie

Charlotte & Charlie

CP: What’s the best thing about calling a dance at the Folk School?

CC: What a good question! I’d say the dance community at the Folk School is one of the best for integrating all kinds of different folks. People who have been dancing for years and years and years are dancing on the same floor as those who have never ever done it before. Little kids all the way up to folks in their 70s and 80s – all on the same dance floor and everyone’s having a great time, enjoying each other’s company. That’s the best part!

CP: Do you have a favorite tune?

CC: I really like the old time tune called Growling & Grumbling, which I love as a dance tune. It got this great low, mumbly beginning and then it busts into this fun, upbeat tune.

CP: Is that the same tune as Growling Old Man and Grumbling Old Woman?

CC: Yep! That’s the one! It a great tune.

CP: Where do you get your dances from?

CC: Oh goodness! Lots of sources. Primarily (and I’d say traditionally) from other callers, but also from going to other dances. I’ll go to a dance and enjoy something that I just danced, run over to the side and write it down real quick.

So I collect dances from dancing. I collect dances from other callers. And in our modern day & age, the internet is a wonderful place, not only to collect dances right off the web, but also to find literature from different places. I use the Country Dance & Song Society which is an organization up in Massachusetts that promotes folk dance and music. I peruse their bookstore pretty frequently. They are a great resource for all things dance.

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