Pam in the Clay Spencer Blacksmith Shop finishing her traditional chest.

CP: Welcome back to the Folk School, Pam! How did you first hear about the Folk School?
PJ: My husband Tom was a Blacksmith at the Hudson Bay Trading Fort. We came down to Atlanta in 1996 for the Olympics. He had heard about the renowned Blacksmithing Program at the Folk School, so we decided to fit that into our trip and take a class. He took Blacksmithing and I took Nantucket Basketry.

CP: This started a love affair with the Folk School for your whole family, did it not?
PJ: The Folk School has definitely become a family tradition. My son Matt has been a Work/Study and a Host; now he teaches Blacksmithing and attends Blacksmith Work Week. My daughter Jennifer was also a host. My husband Tom took many Blacksmithing classes. I have taken many classes, been a Work/Study and this is my second time as a Host.


Pam presents her forged flower to her daughter on her wedding day.

CP: The first time you were here as host, your co-host, Leah Dolgoy wrote a song for you with her autoharp entitled “Song For Pam.” That’s really special! Can you talk about what the song is about?
PJ: When I was host in 2011, it was a healing time for me after the death of my husband. My daughter Jennifer was getting married and I wanted to make her a special gift that would represent both me and Tom. I took Bob Alexander’s Flowers in Metal Class to forge a flower to present to her on her wedding day. Blacksmithing and Metalwork were new to me then and it was challenging but I wanted to embrace Tom’s craft so he could be there too that day. That’s what the song is about.  


Forged Clematis Wedding Gift

CP: The forged flowers are not the only family heirloom you’ve made at the Folk School. What did you make for you granddaughters?
PJ: My granddaughters never knew their grandfather and I wanted to pass on his legacy and love of Blacksmithing and Woodworking to them. I took Pat McCarty’s Traditional Chest and Hardware class twice so I could make two chests to present to them this Christmas.

CP: Do you have a class focus planned for your host term?
PJ: I want to focus on different types of music and musical instruments this time around. Two of my silver bullets are music related: Bluegrass Banjo for Beginners and Learn to Play a Dobro. I am also hoping to take Mountain and Hammered Dulcimer classes.

CP: So what is your one non-music related silver bullet?
PJ: Mastering Powertools in the Workshop with Al Trevillyan & Jim Stafford.

CP: What is one of your favorite things about the Folk School?
PJ: The contra dances. I love the community here and that is really represented in the dances in the Community Room.

CP: Favorite Dining Hall food?
PJ: Coconut Shrimp & Brownies – not mixed together though!

CP: What is your favorite building at the Folk School?
PJ: I am a history lover – so I’d have to pick one of the original bulidings like Farm House, Keith House, or Mill House.


Pam with the flowers she made for her husband Tom’s grave.

CP: What’s your favorite thing you’ve made at the Folk School?
PJ: Tulips for my husband’s grave and the Clematis flower that I gave my daughter on her wedding day.

CP: What do you do when you are not at the Folk School?
PJ: I run a bed and breakfast and host private events as well as a small craft school called the Cloverdale Craft School.

CP: Any closing words?
PJ: I love learning the process of how do do new things and I love the Folk School Community. The Folk School restores my soul.

(“Song for Pam” was recorded by Corinna Rose & Leah Dolgoy. Listen to the song on the Corinna Rose Band Camp page.)

Cory Marie Podielski
About Cory Marie Podielski

Cory Marie Podielski is a freelance graphic designer, photographer, and writer for the John C. Campbell Folk School. She has been writing for the Folk School Blog since 2012 and enjoys interviewing artists, musicians, and craftspeople. In her spare time, she enjoys playing the banjo, dancing, printmaking, playing in clay, and assisting in Folk School bread baking classes.