Having grown up just 12 miles down the road from Brasstown, many of Tommye Scanlin’s earliest Folk School memories date back to her youth. In the mid-1960s, she and her boyfriend would often catch a glimpse of campus on their way to the drive-in movie theater in Peachtree. Since those drive-in, drive by days, Tommye’s Folk School story has come full circle.
Tommye was officially introduced to Folk School classes by Bob Owens, a potter who also happened to be the head of the Art Department at North Georgia College where Tommye taught art and textiles. “I was learning about weaving at the time,” Tommye says, “trying very hard to figure it out on my own. In the summer of 1974, I had the chance to take a weaving class.” During her week as a student, she learned to read weaving drafts and added to her growing love of the craft. “With my newly gained knowledge, I doubled down on my weaving and within a year or so began to show and sell my woven works.”
By the late 1970s, Tommye was teaching at the Folk School. She held her first class as an instructor in the same place she took her first class as a student: the weaving room that was once housed in the History Center.
Since then, Tommye has enjoyed many return trips to Brasstown and has woven special memories into her story. “I was able to teach one summer during the same week as my department head, colleague, friend and mentor—Bob Owens.” She also relishes the many times she sat in Morningsong, listening to the Folk School story. “When Jan Davidson would end by leading the group in singing the chorus of ‘I’m as Free a Little Bird as I Can Be,’ it always brought a tear to my eye.”
When Tommye started supporting the school as a regular donor, it was largely because of her positive experience. “It was truly one of the places where I found inspiration and knowledge as I was starting my career as an artist and a teacher. I’ve seen the benefits it provides to those who take a class, even if they weren’t quite sure what they were embarking upon as the week began.”
We have seen it, too. Every week we meet first-timers and returning students who bring a willingness to stretch their creative boundaries—as free as they can be. Some follow Tommye’s path to a lifelong craft, while others enjoy trying something new every time. Offering those opportunities would not be possible without the support of donors who are the individual threads of our Folk School tapestry.
Tommye will warp her last loom as a weaving instructor in May 2019. We are grateful for her ongoing support, and we are honored to share her story with our Folk School family.
#GivingTuesday, November 27
We have two days for getting deals – Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
On #GivingTuesday, November 27, we have a day for giving back. Together, people are creating a new ritual. #GivingTuesday is the opening day of the giving season: a reminder of the “reason for the season.”
Jerry Jackson is the Executive Director of the John C. Campbell Folk School.