Category: People

An Interview with Greenwood Spoon Carver Tad Kepley

I recently had the good fortune to visit Pittsboro, NC for the inaugural The GreenWood Wrights’Fest, a weekend gathering of spoon carvers, timber framers, and basket weavers from across North Carolina and beyond. While at first those three crafts may sound dissimilar, the tie that binds them together is their use of “green” wood from a freshly cut log. The techniques of the greenwoodworker rely on the ease with which this wet wood can be immediately processed and shaped with hand tools, then allowed to air dry and be finished. It’s not a big leap to imagine why this style of woodworking was important to those who chose Western North Carolina as their home, with its plentiful hardwood forests. Folks around the world have long developed greenwoodworking skills to make everything from their kitchen utensils to their homes, relying on ingeniously simple hand tools: the axe, the froe, and the knife.
The modern day greenwoodworker may not need to hue a hand-built home out of freshly cut logs in order to survive, but she finds other essential benefits from the act of making things with hand tools. Spoon carving facilitates relaxation and mindfulness, and many carvers find themselves in agreement on the value of a handcrafted item that finds its usefulness in the simple act of cooking or eating. Popularized in the U.S. by Swedish greenwood carver Willie Sundqvist, and immortalized in classic books on greenwoodworking like Drew Langsner’s Country Woodcraft, spoon carving is a relatively inexpensive way to gain entry into the world of woodworking.
While in Pittsboro, I caught up with Tad Kepley of Lexington, NC, a veteran greenwood spoon carver and a bit of an evangelist for the craft. We talked about how he approaches spoon carving and what it means to him to participate in this type of woodworking. Tad is a popular instructor at the John C. Campbell Folk School, where he is teaching Greenwood Cooking and Eating Spoons in the Woodcarving Studio the week of August 7, 2022. Known as an enthusiastic and patient mentor, Tad’s teaching offers an entry point for the curious novice, as well as refined instruction for spoon carving enthusiasts looking to hone their skills. His hand carved spoons, with their polished knife finishes (no sandpaper here, folks!) and delicate forms, are quiet heirlooms that find their place in kitchens around the world.

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Apply today for Little/Middle Folk School 2022

Every summer the Folk School opens its doors to young folks ages 7-17 for Little/Middle Folk School, an opportunity for youths to discover Appalachian culture and to take part in hand-on programs in dozens of arts and crafts.

Little/Middle is scheduled for June 19–25, 2022. Participants are divided into two groups. “Littles” are rising second-graders to rising sixth-graders, and “Middles” are rising seventh-graders to rising twelfth-graders (minimum age 11). Register today!

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Join Us for Intergenerational Week: July 17-23

Intergenerational Cooking students explore the Folk School Herb Garden..
We’re excited to introduce younger generations to enriching art, music, and traditional mountain crafts. Our 2022 Intergenerational Week, scheduled for July 17-23, invites youths 12-17 to take classes with a parent, grandparent, or other special relative or guardian. This rewarding experience brings families together, and has proven to be great fun for all who participate.
To register, call the Folk School Office at 1-800-365-5724 (Mon-Fri, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST.) Tuition: $693.00. Youths will receive a $100 discount on tuition. Tuition does not include material fees.

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Folk School Holiday Memories with Carolyn Anderson

Carolyn Anderson is a long-standing member of the renowned Brasstown Carvers and a member of The Southern Highlands Craft Guild. Always quick with encouragement to new carvers, she possesses a sweet and generous nature and is a genuine embodiment of the Folk School’s values of Joy, Kindness, and Stewardship.

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Working Under the Star – Part IV

In 2013, I posted a three-part blog serially on the Folk School home page titled “Working Under the Star Part I, II, and III”. The series related a touching description of two work camps conducted at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC in the summers of 1945 and 1946 by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). The AFSC is the voluntary service arm of the Quaker denomination. Mrs. Campbell was familiar with the AFSC having utilized several individuals from the organization in the past.

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Welcome Our New Gardener, Jason Ebinger

We would like to extend a warm welcome to our new Gardener, Jason Ebinger! Jason has an extensive history managing farm and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Folk School. We look forward to seeing how the garden flourishes this year. Read more to learn about Jason and his goals in this position.

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Current Catalog

Embrace your creative potential, and join us for a life-changing Folk School experience. Our new January–December 2022 Catalog is now available. View the eCatalog online. To receive a printed catalog in the mail, complete our Request a Catalog form on our website.

Online Craft Shop

Our online Craft Shop is now live! Support our vision, mission, and values by purchasing handcrafted items. Our online selection of items will continue to grow, so check back regularly for new items, interviews and more.

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