Luttie May Comes Alive

Brasstown, NC
Brasstown, NC

“I can’t believe it’s over!” said Luttie May.  “Maybe I should have left my suitcase in the room at Rock House so we’d have to come back and get it.”

“And you were dreading the class before we got here,” laughed Irene.  “I guess you’re glad you came.

“Yes, I am!” said Luttie May. Luttie May and Irene walked through the cool, green trees that hid the serenading birds on their way to Keith House for the last Morning Song.

Their first trip to the John C. Campbell Folk School was coming to an end.

“Things I let you talk me into always turn out good.  I was worried when there were only three people in the class.  You know me; I wanted to fade into the background.”

Luttie May stopped on the stone walk in front of Keith House and turned to Irene.

“And I nearly died when you found the reading by the writing class on the schedule. But even that wasn’t bad.  It felt so good when people came up to me the next morning and told me they liked my story!”

“I love it here!” said Irene. “I like quilting but I like meeting all of the people
even more.  Everybody is so nice.  I can’t believe people come all the way from Alaska!”

Luttie May climbed the steps to the red door.  “There’s just one thing I never figured out.  Where exactly is Brasstown?”

Written by Martha Ann Wilkerson while attending “Creating a World That isn’t There” writing class.

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Back to School Spirit

Sunflowers are blooming in the Folk School Garden, August 2014. They are huge - over 8" tall!
Sunflowers are blooming in the Folk School Garden, August 2014. They are huge – over 8″ tall!

It’s that time of the year when students are preparing to return to school. For the first day, the feeling of excitement, enthusiasm, and even a little nervousness is in the air. Arriving at school for a new year, students know they will be challenged, learn, and grow. Walking into a class for the first time at the Folk School isn’t that different, but you can leave your lunch box at home because our Dining Hall cooks the most delicious meals! We have many great classes scheduled this fall to put any adult, of any age, in the back to school spirit.

Book, Paper, Pen

Journals by Annie Fain Liden Barralon
Journals by Annie Fain Liden Barralon

Books are a symbol of back to school. Learn to make your own books and personal journals in classes like “The Joy of Booking” with Suzanne Hall (Sept 7 – 12) or Journals for Creative Use with Annie Fain Liden Barralon (Nov 16-22). You will love the handmade book for its versatility and ability to satisfy any interest. Create the sketchbook of your dreams to organize your thoughts and take notes.

Marbling work by Pat K. Thomas
Marbling work by Pat K. Thomas

Learn to make specialty paper in Marbling around the World with Pat Thomas (Oct 12-18). You will embrace rich cultural histories from Japanese Suminagashi to French nonpareil, Turkish floral motifs to the New Jersey ripple. Construct a simple travel journal with your papers to commemorate this “international” adventure.

Practice your prefect cursive in Incredible, Indelible Italic! with Michael Smith (Nov 9-14). Explore the legible, graceful, and popular style of calligraphy – the Italic hand. Study tools and materials, letter structure, rhythm, spacing, basic design principles, and methods of executing a project of choice.

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Iron – Cold Iron – Is Master of Them All

Sing Behind the Plow lampshade by Ron Nichols
Sing Behind the Plow lampshade by Ron Nichols

Blacksmith Work Week is an annual Folk School tradition, bringing 20 professional blacksmiths/instructors from around the country together to volunteer their time for the purposes of 1) beautifying the Folk School campus with functional ironwork; 2) repairing and creating new tools and infrastructure for the Blacksmithing program; and 3) spending a week learning and exchanging in the company of peers and mentors.Work Week was started by Clay Spencer (namesake of the new blacksmith shop) in the early 1990s and is currently coordinated by Paul Garrett, resident artist blacksmith. I had the chance to visit the shop and interview some of the blacksmiths as they put finishing touches on their projects and reflected on their connection to this very special community and yearly opportunity to participate in Work Week.

Leah Dolgoy: Paul, how’s it gone this week? What were your priority projects and what’s been accomplished during Work Week?

Paul Garrett: There were many priorities this year. One was making chandeliers for upstairs. They won’t get done this year but we’ll keep working on them next year. The shop is named after Clay Spencer so I gave Clay free reign on the design and he chose something very contemporary and out of the ordinary. Other priorities included work in some of the studios. We mounted some equipment for the Jewelry studio. We built a pot rack for the cooking studio. And we finished installing the door latches I made for the main door to the new blacksmith shop. We made two treadle hammers, and two treadle torches. We fixed a lot of tools – hammers and tongs, punches and grips. We also do whatever else pops up. I really wanted to do the Keith House door so that got done this year. We etched and epoxied the bathroom floor in the shop so that housekeeping can come in and clean it more easily now. Then there are all the little things that come up. I have these little job sheets that I put out and I find that works well. People pick their jobs based on their area of interest and expertise.

LD: What does it mean to be the coordinator of this thing that everyone regards as so special?

New door hardware for the Blacksmith Shop made by Paul Garrett
New door hardware for the Blacksmith Shop made by Paul Garrett

PG: For me, it’s an honor and a privilege to be a part of Work Week. I just love having everyone here. As the coordinator, it’s up to me to make the most of it. We have 1000 hours of volunteer labor every year. My role is to keep everyone else working, and to make sure that they can get what they need to get the job done. Funny story – 13 or 14 years ago I came here as a student, and I asked Clay if I could come to Work Week. And basically he said no, because he had enough people and he didn’t really know me that well. (laughs) It wasn’t to be mean or anything. He just had his team that he needed. I understand that now that I am on the other side of it. I believe this is my 10th year as the Work Week coordinator.

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White-Line Printing with Sandy Webster

"Crow" Block and Print by Sandy Webster instructor of "White-line Printmaking" January 5-11, 2014
“Crow” Block and Print by Sandy Webster

A lot of people think they can’t dance. But then they try contra dancing: they can jump right in as a beginner. The moves are straightforward, and they don’t need any special skills. With practice, they become smoother and learn some extra moves, but the initial learning curve is a mere ripple in the road.

White line printmaking is the contra dance of the art world. I spent last week in Sandy Webster’s printmaking class and enjoyed every minute of it.

I’d chosen the class for many reasons: I like how woodblock prints look, and the class had a low materials cost. I would not have to buy expensive tools and could use my old watercolor set. As I had hoped, the technique proved to be one that I can easily continue to do at home, even without a studio space.

"White-line Printmaking" Process: Poppy Line Drawing, Poppy Board, Poppy Print
White-line Printmaking Process: Line Drawing, Board, and Print by Emily Buehler

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