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Mill House Painting

by Cory Marie Podielski on March 18, 2014

in Folk School Folks, Out and About, Paint it! Draw It!

Look what friend of the Folk School, Liz Dahmen, found at an estate sale in Beacon, NY this past weekend:


It’s a beautiful painting of Mill House by the Blacksmith Shop! We don’t know the back-story, but the signature reads “F Caplan 1999.” Liz has a good eye and found a treasure in an unexpected place. You never know when and where the Folk School will turn up. We love hearing about her discovery of this charming Folk School landscape.

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JubalCreechJoin NC-based musician, percussionist, educator and storyteller, Jubal Creech for a week of drumming your heart out in Ground Yourself with Rhythm April 20-26 (Earth Week).

Drumming is as old as the first heartbeat of human kind. It is a universal, percussive language for communities around the world in celebration of everything from moon cycles and the turning of the seasons to dance! Play all sorts of drums and drumming rhythms from places such as West Africa (djembe, dundun), East Africa (mbira), Cuba (conga, bongo), and America (snare drum, tambourine). We may try some low-impact, African-influenced movement and make simple percussive instruments to take home. All levels welcome! Register for Jubal’s class at the Folk School on our website.


Did you know that…
• Drumming is for everyone no matter their musical level. It does not require participants to read music or understand music theory.
• Drumming reduces stress, boosts the immune system and lowers blood pressure.
• Drumming activates both sides of the brain and can help the mind achieve hemispheric coordination.
• Drumming is fun! It releases endorphins in the human brain that cause feelings of happiness and euphoria. It’s a great reason to gather with other people and to share in a common experience.  

Along with teaching, recording and performing, Jubal has founded the community-based drum circle network, an exciting place to experience the spirit of collaboration through rhythm. A well-traveled, well-studied, energetic and encouraging facilitator, Jubal has had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of people while sharing his love of the drum.  

Be inspired by a great video of a performance led by Jubal at Little/Middle:

See more great videos on Jubal’s YouTube Channel.


I stopped by the Yarn Circle on a Monday afternoon to speak with Martha Owen, our beloved longtime Resident Artist in Spinning, Knitting, Dyeing and Felt Making. We talked about many things including fiber arts, raising sheep, travel, artistic process, Fair Isle, her rich history with the Folk School, and more. Enjoy our interview!


Don’t ever lead your sheep with feed! A student photo op pic by Bonnie Shearer

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

MO: There was one year when I was a wee lass that I came to Little Folk School. I must have been 8, 9, or 10. I grew up in Pennsylvania, but my mother, Mary Porter Fain Owen came from Murphy. I would spend the summers here with my grandmother. At that time there was only one group of kids in Little Folk School. I learned to dance and I still sing the song I learned.


Photo shoot for Early American Life Magazine: Spinning near Festival Barn, August 1988 – That’s Emolyn drinking a “grape coke” and trying to be good

The next time, I was in college and I came for dancing again. I was doing volunteer work with a local church and we came to the dance one night. One summer my mother gave me a spinning wheel she had gotten from my great aunt and said: “Look! You always did like weird stuff.” She put the wheel down in front of me walked off and I thought “Well, I don’t know how to work with this thing.” My grandmother was reading the Cherokee Scout and saw an ad that the Campbell Folk School had a two-week class in Spinning and Dyeing. She said “Why don’t you go down and learn?” I said “Well, maybe I will.”

The full craft program that we have now had started in the ’70s. The class was taught in Open House by Pam Strawn. We would card and spin and then do a dye pot when we had a pound of yarn between all of us. From that I made my first vest and I wore it for years to prove to my students that you should make something for any yarn you spin, you don’t have to wait until you spin “perfect” yarn.

My whole life turned left after taking that spinning class. That was 1978. I married my enabler, David Liden in 1979, and I had sheep by 1980.

CP: Tell me about your first sheep.

MO: I bought two ewes with lambs by their sides. One of the lambs was called “Maw Maw” and was the same age as my oldest daughter, Annie Fain. Maw Maw’s portrait is hanging in our house. She was a pretty important sheep and I learned a lot of things from her. She lived to be 17.

CP: Do you have tips for beginning sheep owners?


Ro-bear and Julliet, our current Great Pyrenees dogs – they weigh at least 125 pounds each now and live with the sheep (Oh, and Martha and David!) – Photo by Charlotte Crittenden

MO: Now I have 35 sheep, but you’ve got to start small. Sheep reproduce quickly. While you are learning about things like housing, worming, and hoof trimming, etc, the fewer sheep the better. Security is also top priority. Sheep don’t have a way to protect themselves besides snorting, stomping, and running away which is very attractive to dogs. The biggest problems you have are neighbors’ dogs and strays. Try security animals like llamas, donkeys, or Great Pyrenees. I have two Great Pyrenees right now. I haven’t had any predator problems since they have been here. We are on our fourth generation. A border collie’s job is the tell the sheep what to do, but the Pyrenees protect the sheep. They live with the sheep.

CP: As a current resident artist, one of your duties is to schedule teachers for the knitting, dyeing, felt making and spinning classes at the Folk School. How do you find them?

MO: Every possible way you can think of. We need someone who is passionate about what they do, someone who has done their craft a lot, but is a good teacher. I am always looking around and listening.

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From Garden to Table: Lettuce Eat!

by Cory Marie Podielski on March 11, 2014

in Around Campus, In the Garden, The Dining Hall


Lettuce in the Vegetable Garden is harvested by Work/Studies and brought to the Dining Hall


Greenhouse Starts

Kale, Spinach, and Lettuce transfer seed starts in the Folk School Green House

The Folk School’s vegetable garden provides organic, seasonal produce for our Dining Hall and our Cooking Studio. This time of the year, lettuce, kale, mustard greens, and collards transfer from their green house tray location to the earth. Volunteer Coordinator/Gardener Joe Baumgartner and the Work/Study crew have been busy tending to the seed starts and prepping beds since January.

Salad with Kale and lettuce from the Vegetable Garden

Salad with Kale and lettuce from the Vegetable Garden

Much of what is planted in the garden supplies and supplements the salad bowl and vegetable dishes in the Dining Hall. When you enter the Dining Hall check out the sign next to the menu board which details exactly what the Dining Hall is using from the garden each week. Next time you enjoy salad or veggies at lunch or dinner in the Dining Hall, take a post-meal stroll over to the Vegetable Garden to see what’s growing.

Folk School Garden

Frances Juhlin teaches about heirloom vegetables in the Folk School Garden.

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Chair Making has a long history in Appalachia and at the Folk School. When the school first opened its doors in 1925, folks in the community donated 100 hand-made chairs to be used in the school’s opening celebration. Most of those remain on campus today in places like the Keith House living room, as well Farm House, Orchard House, and the History Center. Did you know that you could take a class and make one, or refurbish one that you may have in your home?

Chairs come in different shapes, designs, and sizes. If you are interested in a traditional ladderback style chair, you may want to check out this upcoming popular class with emphasizes the use of hand tools:

Ladderback Chair frame created in Lyle Wheeler's class

Ladderback Chair created in Lyle Wheeler’s class

Basic Ladderback Chair
with Lyle Wheeler, June 8-14

Embark on chair making by constructing a one-slat ladderback side chair in red oak. Shape parts on the shaving horse with drawknife and spokeshave and assemble with a brace & bit and mortise chisel. History of the trade, discussion of green woodworking techniques, and a demonstration of splint bottoming are included. Expect to complete a chair frame. Students should have moderate hand strength and some physical endurance.

If you are more interested in learning to make contemporary chairs using power tools, this class may be for you:

Making a Dining Chair with Robert Haase, May 11-17

Make a simple, elegant dining chair that is highly customizable, while also considering the structural and comfort requirements of a chair. This machinery-based class will cover bent laminations and joinery on angled and curved surfaces. To complete the chair, fabric will be provided for a simple upholstered seat. Students of all levels are welcome.

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