Make your own cloth! Explore or improve historic and adaptable skills and practices associated with the coloring of fleece/fiber and the manufacturing of yarn and cloths. Experienced fiber and textile artists will enjoy sessions on natural dyeing, spinning, and weaving.
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 2 Fiber Arts mentorship, visit our Slideroom application.
October 25 – November 2 (7-day class)
Create an extraordinary palette of colors on natural fibers including wool (fleece and yarn), silk, and cotton. Work your way around the color wheel using methods to mordant, dye, and modify fiber samples with natural dyes, including indigo. Explore application techniques such as gradients and space dyes, as well as contemporary and cross-cultural applications such as simple shibori and eco-printing on silk. By week’s end, dye enough yarn of your favorite color to weave a blanket or knit a sweater.
November 3 – 11 (7-day class)
Spindle and Wheel: A Complete Spinning Shop
Increase your heartfelt respect for handmade textiles. Survey and explore different preparations and spinning styles as your work with Appalachian tools – hand cards and a walking wheel. Spin local wool (from Martha’s sheep and angora rabbits) and brown cotton from the boll, grown in the Folk School’s dye garden. Investigate creative spinning devices, drum carders, and hand combs. Special topics include: spinning for weaving and knitting, fiber and color blends and simple novelties, raising your own fiber, and more!
November 12 – 21 (8-day class)
Weave a Wool Blanket
Explore traditional domestic textiles of the southern Appalachians and the handwoven textiles of the Arts and Crafts movement. Weave a wool blanket and choose another project using tried and true methods that make warping, weaving, and finishing both efficient and fun. Sustainability, recycling, and green textiles will also be discussed, with the idea of looking to the past for inspiration for the future.
Pat Armstrong, a long-time fiber enthusiast, has made natural dyeing a constant part of her lifestyle, where dyepots sometimes take precedence over dinner! A weaver and knitter, she now counts spinning (learned at the Folk School) as her main obsession. Her educational background in botany and biology in no way prepared her for her day job as an arts administrator.
Martha Owen is the Folk School’s Resident Artist in Spinning, Knitting & Crochet, Feltmaking, Dyeing, and Surface Design. Her adventure in spinning began at this very school in 1978. Since then, her extended family has included sheep (mostly Corriedale, Shetland, Romney) and Angora rabbits (French). A banjo player known to tell a story or two, Martha’s interest in sheep and wool, music and dance has carried her quite literally and joyfully to Shetland and around the world. She reads historical fiction for sheep references and rewinds movies to see the shape of a hat or to draw a color repeat. She is a member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild and was co-owner of Yarn Circle in Murphy, North Carolina, until deciding to close in 2016.
Beth Ross Johnson
Beth Ross Johnson began weaving in 1970. She is a student of Norman Kennedy, has had two extensive stays in Japan to study folk textiles, and holds an MFA in textiles from Georgia State University. A Folk School instructor since 1983, Beth currently lives in western North Carolina, where she weaves and teaches.
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.