“Around Carolina” TV Show Features the Folk School

The Folk School was recently featured on the Time Warner Cable network’s Around Carolina. A big “thanks” to Richard Green, who produced the show which highlighted our history, our non-competitive philosophy, and how we are preserving traditional craft.

Featured in the show are Jan Davidson (our banjo picking director) and studio visits with Kurt Herzog (Woodturning instructor), Kim St. Jean (Jewelry instructor), Allen Goodman (Woodcarving instructor), and Joanna Heidel (student).

Watch the Around Carolina segment:

We may be tucked away in rural Appalachia, but when folks want to feature our hands-on, non-competitive classes, we love to step into the limelight and show off how truly fantastic the Folk School is. Students, instructors, and Folk School folks love to share their Folk School experiences demonstrating how the Folk School is a life-changing experience.

A Special Visit from the Dame Family

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The Olive Dame family gather for a quick photo in front of Keith House. Kids, standing left to right: Calder LaFollette Huck, Otis Cary, Maxwell LaFollette Huck. Second row, left to right Toby Sackton (married to Marcia), Elisabeth Sackton (married to Liz Coolidge), Liz Coolidge, Tavia LaFollette, Donick Cary, Amadi Cary, Richard Cary. Back row, left to right: Jan Davidson, Marcia Butman, Kim Huffman Cary, Kim Huffman, Josh Wipf (behind Kim), Jeanne Huffman, Lorin Cary.

Members of Folk School founder Olive Dame Campbell’s family gathered here during a recent weekend in June (12-14) for a mini-family reunion and a chance to experience the Folk School. While some members took classes in Photography, Spinning, and Gardening, others spent time on campus, browsing the school’s archives, visiting and meeting with Folk School staff and community members. I recently caught up with Marcia Butman (Olive was Marcia’s Great Aunt) and Tavia LaFollette Zabriske (Olive was her Great Great Aunt) to ask them about their thoughts about the Folk School and to learn more about their family’s connection to Olive.

KG: Tell us why you decided to gather your family here for a mini-reunion at the Folk School.

MB: I had been reading Olive’s diary and sending it out on a daily basis to a large group of extended family, calling it “Dame A Day.” I sent out the year of Olive’s baby Jane’s life, from April 1912 through January 1913. I think this really involved our family in Olive’s life, and we began talking about holding a reunion at the school. Toby and I visited the school twice in the past ten years and I also visited with my daughter for the day when we were at The Great Smokies. We also hosted Jan and Nanette in Nantucket when they came to do a talk and concert. Our relationship to them made me feel it would be possible to arrange a family visit. Jan and Nanette are such special and wonderful welcoming people, they were very positive and enthusiastic about the idea of a reunion and I knew they would help us arrange a reunion. And they did so much to make the weekend great.

However, it seemed very difficult to come up with a date. Then Lorin Cary, whose brother, Richard lives in Asheville, said he was planning to visit on Richard June 12, after his grandson’s graduation from High School in Toledo, and both of them were going to go visit the school. Once one person said they were definitely coming, it all fell into place. (Olive was also Great Aunt to both Lorin and Richard. They are the sons of Olive’s niece June and Harry Cary, who lived and worked at the Folk School from 1938-41).

TLZ: I have grown up with stories and artifacts. This was an opportunity to learn and share with family, first hand, in a place that has captured and treasures cultural heritage. What a unique opportunity! Continue reading A Special Visit from the Dame Family

Gala & Benefit Auction 2015

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Gala & Benefit Auction 2015

Well, we had an excellent auction this weekend—the diverse array of food was scrumptious, the band was hopping, and the art was impressive.

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Live music

Our Gala is more than a simple auction, it is a time where folks can come together and celebrate our unique community and our talented artists. This year’s Gala also marked a special milestone in our history —the School’s 90th birthday. We sang happy birthday and cut a huge chocolate, vanilla, and spice birthday cake to celebrate the occasion.

90th Year Celebration Cake

After we ate and sang we got down to the serious work of auctioning off art and we had some beautiful work to sell—from Howard Malovany’s short scale mountain dulcimer to Julie Fisher’s large ceramic lantern to Chuck Jackson’s enameled steel flowers in a hand-turned walnut vase.The auctioneers, Tim Ryan and Bob Grove, both said that this auction was one of the most spirited auctions we have hosted in the past decade.

This auction helped raise approximately $20,000 to support our programming, improve our studios and further our mission. We thank all of the generous donors and volunteers. Without their talent and energy this auction would not have been possible.

Blacksmith Work Week 2015

Susan, Able, and John work on a bench design.
Susan, Able, and John work on a bench design. Photo by Julie Clark.

Blacksmith Work Week is an annual tradition at the Folk School where skilled blacksmiths come for a week and volunteer their time to do projects around campus and make improvements in the Clay Spencer Blacksmith Shop. I talked to Paul Garrett, the Folk School’s Resident Blacksmith, about this year’s Blacksmith Work Week (March 29-April 4, 2015).

Susan & Paul
Susan & Paul. Photo by Julie Clark.

CP: How was Blacksmith Work Week this year?

PG: It was really good. We had a great group of almost 20 people. Everyone had great projects to work on and all went home happy.

CP: One of the new installations is the railing on the back of the Festival Barn Stage. Can you tell us about that design and process?

PG: We wanted to make a simple railing to free up the view to the woods behind the stage. A lot of people have good memories of sitting in the barn and looking out at the woods behind the music and the temporary wooden railing blocked up the view. We replaced it with thin metal posts and horizontal railing so it’s more pleasant to look through. The center panel is going to be a leafless tree. The posts arch outward from the center where the tree will be, so it looks like the trunk is pushing them out.

Blacksmith Work Week volunteers stand behind the newly installed Festival Barn Stage railing.
Blacksmith Work Week volunteers stand behind the newly installed Festival Barn Stage railing. Photo by Julie Clark.

Continue reading Blacksmith Work Week 2015

A Family Affair at the Folk School

The Folk School recently had a very special group visit. To celebrate their 60th Wedding Anniversary, Dr. Fred and Mrs. Martha U. Goldner of Nashville, TN, decided to return to the Folk School and this time they brought their family and several friends to join in the fun!

(Front Row) Dr. Fred & Mrs. Martha U. Goldner (Second Row L. to R.) Hannah Niederman, Francie Niederman, Natalie Niederman, Fredjoseph Goldner, (Third Row L. to R.) Cynthia Goldner, Aaron Niederman, Michael Niederman, Sana Singh, Prash Singh, and Julian Goldner.
(Front Row) Dr. Fred & Mrs. Martha U. Goldner (Second Row L. to R.) Hannah Niederman, Francie Niederman, Natalie Niederman, Fredjoseph Goldner, (Third Row L. to R.) Cynthia Goldner, Aaron Niederman, Michael Niederman, Sana Singh, Prash Singh, and Julian Goldner.
Aaron Niederman plans his Blacksmithing project with instructor Ron Nichols.
Aaron Niederman plans his Blacksmithing project with instructor Ron Nichols.

While Fred & Martha toasted their 60th, one of their two daughters, Francie Niederman, of Skokie, IL, also celebrated her 20th anniversary with her husband Michael. Three generations of family members and their friends came to the Folk School to take a variety of Weekend classes including: Blacksmithing, Jewelry, Enameling, Drawing, Woodturning, and Woodworking. Creativity seems to run in the family. Their daughter, Cynthia, promotes her innovative art at Makin Time Clocks and their grandson, Julian, was a Silver Medalist in the most recent Scholastic Art Awards Competition.

Seeing them in the studio, at our family-style meals in the Dining Hall, and at Show and Tell was delightful. They made it look like the most incredible family vacation ever. I talked with Martha about her Folk School experience and what it was like to have her family congregate in Brasstown for this very special occasion:

CP: Congratulations once again on your anniversary! Was this your first trip to the Folk School?

MG: Fred and I had a previous experience at JCCFS around the same time of year in 2011. We took Bistro Cooking and Fiber Arts & Knitting.

Francie learns a jewelry technique from Kay Patterson.
Francie learns a jewelry technique from Kay Patterson.

CP: What made you decide to pick the Folk School as a destination for your anniversary celebration?

MG: We identified our anniversary celebration with family. A weekend of the exact dates was in the catalogue and it was a perfect place away from everyone’s usual environment. A place of unknown demands on them, yet programmed for each one to be surprised and inspired.

CP: How many of your family members congregated at the Folk School? Who came from the furthest destination?

MG: Of the twelve members there were three couples. Our son came from San Jose, Costa Rica.

CP: How did you decide what classes to take?

MG: When the idea was hatched we distributed the outline and description of what was available so they quickly made choices before the classes filled up.

Continue reading A Family Affair at the Folk School