Back in Time at the Folk School, and Biltmore

Challah created by students in Emily’s class.
(L-R) Emily’s mom at the Biltmore, Emily in front our our outdoor wood fired oven, Emily’s mom’s quilts at Show & Tell.

My recent trip to the Folk School was a little different than usual. For one thing, after ten years of teaching “The Science of Bread,” I shifted gears slightly and taught “Making Traditional Breads.” Thankfully, science still applies in traditional breads.

The other difference was that my mom accompanied me for the first time, to take a quilting class. While I was busy lighting the wood-fired oven, hunting down recipes, and mixing doughs to demonstrate with in class, Mom was putting in long hours at the studio, turning the bags of scrap fabric she’d brought into quilts. Three times each day we met for meals in the Folk School dining hall. Continue reading Back in Time at the Folk School, and Biltmore

Life Lessons from a Week in Bread Class

Everyone will agree that a week at the Folk School passes too quickly. One minute, it’s Sunday night; you’re getting to know your teacher and studio and looking forward to the week ahead. The next minute, it’s Thursday afternoon, and you’re scrambling to finish work and facing the inevitable: that last meal in the dining hall, the absence of friends who’ve departed early, turning in your nametag, and forcing yourself into the car to drive off campus, leaving only the barn swallows swooping over the fields and the chickens pecking in the now-silent garden.

It’s therefore important to get started right away. In The Science of Bread last week, we spent Monday making French baguettes all together, and talking about how long to knead, how to properly shape dough, how to prepare the oven for baking, and much more. But on Tuesday, it was time for the students to get busy, whether by making the class “regulars” like sourdough and ciabatta or by making the recipes they’d brought to class.

And get busy they did: We saw the creation of a diabetic-friendly nut-and-seed loaf, multiple versions of yeast rolls, the experimental Frankenloaf (which garnered the most praise at the student show), New-York-style bagels, and the ever-popular challahs. By Friday, the students had made dozens of loaves, learning both from successes and failures, and meeting many of the goals they’d brought to class.

It occurred to me that, being June, it’s a good time to think about your goals for the year. In the same way that a week at the Folk School flies by, 2017 is flying by. Have you accomplished any of the things you meant to? If not, there is still time to get busy. For me, 2017 has been a year to practice my writing and grow my editing business. While I’ve been diligently arising early each morning to work, I see room for improvement in the bravery arena: leaving my comfort zone to find new opportunities.

What are your goals for the year? There’s still time to make them happen!

 

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EmilyBuehlerEmily Buehler is the author of this blog and a frequent bread instructor at the Folk School. She became a bread baker in 2001, intending to take a break after finishing a degree in chemistry. Six months later she began teaching bread classes. Emily has written two books: one on bread making called Bread Science, and one about her bicycle trip across America called Somewhere and Nowhere. Visit Emily’s website for more information.

Emily will be teaching her popular bread making class again in 2018.

 

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Letterpress Printmaking with Jessica White

Next week is a special week for our Book & Paper Arts Program as our brand new beautiful studio opens its doors to students for the very first time. It’s appropriate that the first class is a letterpress printing class considering that printmaking will flourish with the new space and room for equipment and presses. We talked with instructor Jessica White who is teaching the inaugural class about her craft and process. Enjoy our interview!

CP: Congratulations on being the very first instructor to teach class in our brand new Book and Paper Arts Studio! So what drew you letterpress printing? Why is the medium meaningful to you?

JW: When I was a printmaking grad student at the University of Iowa, I made drawings and prints that combined images with text. One day, a friend saw me struggle with different methods of printing the text on a lithograph, and he suggested letterpress. He showed me how to set and print one line of text, and I haven’t stopped since!

For me, letterpress printing started as and still is a means to an end; I like all types of printmaking, but my love of text always brings me back to letterpress because it’s the perfect method to printing my work.

CP: How would you describe your work?

JW: My work tends to be humorous and looks sweetly charming, but there is a philosophical and slightly dark side. I’ve been told that my work is “what you get if Beatrix Potter crashed into Edward Gorey.”

“Never Mind the Bears” letterpress print by Jessica White

Continue reading Letterpress Printmaking with Jessica White

Leather Outback Hat with Donna Wiggins

Here’s Olga, a Work/Study student wearing the Leather Outback hat sample created by Donna.

Learn how to make a stylish and practical leather outback hat in Donna Wiggins’ upcoming class, Stylish Leather Hat for Men or Women. You don’t have to have a trip to the Australian outback planned to rock this rugged hat which will shade you from the sun and keep you cool whether you are in the bush, at a festival, or on a walk through the woods. Continue reading Leather Outback Hat with Donna Wiggins

Folk School Holiday Traditions with Nanette Davidson

Children make cookies for the Holiday Kids Party
Children make cookies for the Holiday Kids Party

The month of December is a special time at the Folk School. Events, parties, food, themed classes, concerts, dances and performances unite the community in the holiday spirit. When the wreaths, garlands, and handcrafted ornaments appear in early December, we know the magic of the season has arrived. Recently, I connected with Nanette Davidson, our longtime decorating maven and mastermind, to ask about holiday traditions at the Folk School. Enjoy our interview!

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Nanette in the Cooking Studio

CP: When does the holiday season begin for you?

ND: Well, I think about this off and on through out the year, planning simple projects for the winter holiday season and for spring’s May Day and June’s Auction Gala sometimes many months in advance. I have asked for help from other artists and dancers in the community to generate handmade decorations including giant puppets for parades. Jan and I love the seasonal celebrations that come from many rural, agricultural communities. When you live in the Appalachian countryside where there are distinct perennial landscapes, it’s easy to celebrate the beauty of the changing seasons.

CP: What is your favorite Folk School December holiday tradition?

ND: We have so many great parties in December for the local community as well as our students who come in for a week. In the original days of the JCCFS, the student body was closely tied to the community and seasonal events were held to pull everyone together. We still want to include our local community and they are present here at weekly dances and concerts. We have the Old Folks Party, Christmas Dance/Dessert Potluck, New Year’s Eve Dance, and the Children’s Party when Santa arrives in the BFD Firetruck, sirens wailing. I have always helped with the Children’s Party which includes crafts, musical chairs, storytelling, Morris performance, homemade cookies, and live music and dance for the kids. Even though we are an adult school we reach out to our local kids at Christmas and in the summer. More and more show up on the dance floor now. Every child that has a great folk school experience can help us preserve the school for the future. Continue reading Folk School Holiday Traditions with Nanette Davidson