Weaving has a strong history in Appalachia. Spend four weeks learning some of that history, starting with weaving as craft and trade in settlement schools. Continue with a focus on weaving structures that were found in many homes throughout the region. Create a tapestry inspired by a beloved Folk School weaver, and finish with rag rugs and runners. Weavers who can independently warp their looms and who want to explore Appalachian weaving will come away with knowledge of techniques and traditions.
This session is part of our Traditional Craft Mentorship Program, a grant-funded opportunity for early to mid-career artists to spend a month at the Folk School this fall, learning from master artisans. To learn more, visit our About page. To apply for a spot in our Session 1 Weaving mentorship, visit our Slideroom application.
Week 1: September 20 – 26
Weavings of the Settlement Schools
In this class, learn the history of the settlement schools that played a significant role in the economic development of the Appalachian region. Weave samples of finger towels, wall hangings, table runners, and other useful items that were created and sold through these schools. Southern weaving history will complement your week on the loom.
Week 2: September 27 – October 3
Appalachian Textile Treasures: Overshot Patterning
Women in Appalachia fell in love with the woven cloth known as Colonial Overshot. Though patterns appeared complex, they could be woven on simple, four-shaft looms. Weave some historical patterns and learn about the drafts, methods of notation, and threading structure. View a collection of old mountain coverlets and discuss local culture in regards to cloth production.
Week 3: October 4 – 10
Tapestry: The Weaving Style of Alice Tipton
Alice Tipton was a first-generation Folk School weaver. She started as a student and stayed for decades as an integral part of the school, both managing the kitchen and weaving beautiful mountain landscapes. Explore her tapestries and weave your own version of the landscape using a floor loom with similar methods and materials as the original.
Week 4: October 11 – 17
Appalachian Rag Rugs
Experience and learn the Appalachian history and techniques of weaving rag rugs, runners, placemats, and more. Many Appalachian homes had looms and many Appalachian weavers used recycled fabric to create unique and colorful pieces of fiber art for their home. Discover Appalachian lore as you design and finish traditionally woven projects you are sure to treasure.
Pam Howard is the Resident Weaver at the Folk School. She has focused on weaving and fiber arts for more than 30 years. She has taught and presented programs throughout the Southeast and has also traveled to Denmark to study Scandinavian weaving, culture, and history. Pam is a former staff member of “Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot” magazine and is a member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. She is currently enrolled in the five-year Olds College Master Weaver Program out of Alberta, Canada.
Susan Leveille has been a craftsperson and weaver for most of her life and has taught weaving for almost 50 years. She shares her knowledge of weaving and crafts in an enthusiastic and contagious manner. Past president and recipient of a Life Membership in the Southern Highland Craft Guild, Susan comes from a family of weavers and craftspeople, a heritage she values and respects. Presented with the 2014 North Carolina Heritage Award by the North Carolina Arts Council (the state’s highest honor for folk artists), she joins a roster of craftspeople she grew up knowing and admiring.
Tommye Scanlin, professor emerita of the University of North Georgia, has taught weaving for over 50 years. She is a life member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild and Piedmont Craftsmen, and she is one of the founding members of Tapestry Weavers South. Tommye’s tapestries are exhibited in both solo and group shows.
Kathy Tinsley is a handweaver of rag rugs, stair runners, and table runners. She has been fascinated by rag rugs since discovering one woven by her grandmother in a family farmhouse in Franklin N.C., and never tires of watching the interaction of color and pattern interact on her loom. The nature of rag construction for its upcycling and recycling potential brings added satisfaction. She teaches and coordinates activities at Nonah Weavers in Franklin.
During these mentorships, our instructors will also be presenting a series of Virtual Demonstrations. These programs are open to the public and will cost $10 to attend via Zoom. Lean more: Traditional Craft Mentorships: Virtual Demonstrations.
All Photos Courtesy of the Artists, or from the Folk School Archives.
The Folk School transforms lives, bringing people together in a nurturing environment for experiences in learning and community life that spark self-discovery. Located in scenic Brasstown, North Carolina, the Folk School offers year-round weeklong and weekend classes for adults in craft, art, music, dance, cooking, gardening, nature studies, photography and writing.