Category: Featured Instructor

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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Coming Full Circle: An Interview with Lindsey Liden, Resident Artist in Woodworking

Lindsey Liden is a 7th generation Brasstown native and his family has been associated with the Folk School since 1925. After time traveling, studying, and exploring, he has resettled down in Brasstown and has recently built his woodworking shop, Mulheron Craft, on his family’s farm in Brasstown. Lindsey enjoys making handmade banjos and fine furniture. He is also a regular instructor and our Resident Artist in Woodworking. Enjoy our interview!

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The Importance of Being a Student: An Interview with Jeff Hornung

Jumpstarted by a Folk School woodturning class nine years ago, Jeff Hornung began his own woodturning business after recovering from post-concussion syndrome. Now, he is a Folk School instructor, juried artist, national and international demonstrator, author, and Artist-in-Residence at the Craft Alliance School of Art + Design in St. Louis, Missouri.

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Appalachian Broom Making with Marlow Gates

Whatever your abode, castle, or cottage, you most likely have a broom in your home or hanging on your hearth. From besoms and cobweb brooms to more modern flat brooms and whimsical sculptural objects, brooms are important cultural symbols used for decoration and ritual, as well as functional tools.

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Martha Owen on Natural Dyeing with Marigolds

Martha Owen stands in front of our new dye garden, one of the many projects Farmer Teddy is currently working on in the Folk School Garden. Come along as Martha describes the process of using marigold flowers from the Folk School garden for dyeing in the video below:

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Hand-forged Kitchen Tools by Paul Garrett

Paul Garrett is the Folk School’s Resident Artist in Blacksmithing. Our Craft Shop is currently featuring his collection of hand-forged culinary tools, so I thought I would check-in with Paul to find out more about his work and also how he’s doing during the current pandemic. Enjoy our conversation!

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Appalachian Traditions Discussion Series

Appalachian Traditions is our free webinar discussion series with instructors from our master-artist-led series on traditional Appalachian craft. These hour-long conversations provide a space for instructors in traditional craft to share their personal stories and discuss their creative process.

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If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out with Aubrey Atwater

Using clogging, music, and storytelling to charm Folk School audiences since 1996, Aubrey Atwater exudes a talent, grace, and humor unique to the most talented of performers. She teaches traditional music and dance regularly at the Folk School and while classes are on hiatus, Aubrey joined us for a virtual discussion on Monday, May 18 as part of our Appalachian Traditions discussion series. View the recording of the talk and also enjoy an interview with Aubrey.

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Writing Memories into Family Histories: An Interview with Robin Edgar

When you take a Folk School class, you never know who you will meet. Last fall, I had the pleasure of sitting next to Robin Edgar in the herbalism class during Shaker Week. I learned that she and her husband, David Edgar, have been teaching classes at the Folk School since 1996! Robin teaches writing and David teaches the unique craft of turning recycled plastic into fantastic creations. This year, they are both teaching during Earth Week, April 19–24, 2020. In her upcoming class, Turning Fond Memories into Family Histories, students will discover how to use sights, sounds, and even smells to recall and record meaningful memories.

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Enameling Days Are by Far My Favorite Days: An Interview with Ashley Gilreath

Don’t miss this special opportunity to study with an incredibly talented new instructor in our Enameling Studio. Ashley Gilreath describes herself as a metalsmith, enamelist, and time traveler. Ashley hand fabricates all of her work using high quality precious metals and vitreous glass; sometimes utilizing heirlooms or found objects that she scavenges from the dark and secret corners of antique stores. Enjoy our interview!

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Bead Addict! The Magic of Bead Making with Terry Hale

I met Terry Hale in the Folk School Enameling Studio where she teaches bead making several times a year. We talked about the joys of craft addiction and how she got hooked on moving glass into beads, what she likes about teaching, what she loves about the Folk School, and more. Enjoy our interview!

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The Modern Asian Kitchen with Patrick O’Cain

I met with chef Patrick O’Cain at his popular Asheville restaurant, Gàn Shān Station, to interview him about his upcoming class at the Folk School, The Modern Asian Kitchen. We are excited to have him return to Brasstown, April 12–18, 2020, to share his knowledge of Asian cooking. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from a renowned and celebrated Asheville chef and immerse yourself in the cooking cultures of China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and beyond.

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Shaker Herbs, Roots, Barks, and Lore with Jamie Sparks

Have you always been drawn to the idea of using herbs to make your own products, teas, drinks, and food? Immerse yourself in weeklong class, Shaker Herbs, Roots, Barks, and Lore, taught by herbalist Jamie Sparks during Shaker Week, November 3–9. Explore how Shakers used plants to be self-reliant and to connect to the natural world. Jamie has a lot of wisdom to share, so let’s learn a little more about her experience and what’s in store for the class.

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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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