The campus was decorated with Scottish flags last week during Scottish Heritage Week. With the blacksmiths learning ironworking techniques of ancient Scotland, the woodcarvers chiseling Celtic motifs, the cooks boiling broths on the open hearth and making hagis and bannocks – it’s a wonder we didn’t all start talking with Scottish accents.
We did have a few people to speak with to work on our Gaelic, Norman Kennedy being one of them. Throughout the week he made appearances in Martha Owen’s spinning and dying class telling stories, to David Brose’s ballad class singing some of the old songs, and to Maureen Ryan Griffin’s writing class reciting poems.
But at the waulking demonstration all of these things came together when Norman took a seat at the head of the table and explained the tradition of wetting woven fabric and beating it on the table while pushing it in a circle, all the while singing songs to keep everyone working at the same rhythm. He wrestled up some volunteers and they gave it a try.
After a few beat driven songs, the fabric shrunk slightly and became a softer more tightly woven piece of cloth. It’s strenuous work for one, but when done together with a song it’s easy to forget that a job is being done.
Norman will be back to the School again for the Spinning Clinic January 23-28 with Martha Owen.