Pushing the Handmade Envelope

Pushing the Handmade Envelope

Book_KS2A5694“What do you like best about the Folk School?” I asked an eight-year-old friend.

“All the new old-timey stuff.”

The Folk School is cutting edge, ever pushing the handmade envelope. We were growing our food in Brasstown before any of us knew we were locavores. When bigger was surely better, we were small and rural and believed it to be the fountainhead of creativity. (Yer welcome, cityfolks). We wanted art to be a part of everyday life, and every person an artist, not just for art’s sake (but, hey, art, yer welcome) but for our own sake. We said there was art in all of us, especially as children, and that we just wanted to give it back to those who may have missed it or laid it aside. BA-GianWe were helping people to find common ground at times when others tried to divide us about race, class, gender, orientation, origin, personal appearance, attitude, religion, and footwear. We are not really about crafts or music or books, though we teach and learn them at the very highest levels; to us, they are a legacy and a way to get beyond our bad selves and try to love one another. We teach good ways. Some of them are very old. Cool.

Words under glass are handy, like when you’re waiting in the drive-through at the Krystal and you can’t remember who it was that shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914.

BA-Holly-XOBut books are more than the words or images they contain. They are a physical object, the best-ever communication device and an inspiration. The fact that we’ve had paper and books around a long time does not mean we are through with exploring them, it means that we have a lot going for us in the forward journey. We still paint mountain landscapes in oil, though there are quicker ways to grab an image. We still carve wood, though plastics may be a quicker route to “bear.” We still play the banjo, heaven help us, though it is easier to plug in the earbuds and listen to somebody else making music.
That would be too easy for the likes of us. We are willing to go to some extra trouble to have beauty in our lives.

And that brings me to books. Did I mention Grundtvig, William Morris, Allen Eaton, Doris Ulmann, Ellie Wilson, David Rakoff, and Olive Dame Campbell, just a few of the writers whose work is a part of the Folk School forever? Don’t make me have to pull out Shakespeare, the Bible, Dr. Seuss, Mark Twain, and various Sedarises.
We value the words, the illustrations, the illuminations, the textures and the letterforms, the fonts and the dingbats, the inks and ideas turned into objects whose meaning at the time of their creation has only begun, and expands with each pair of hands and eyes that embrace them. Books are still revolutionary, still comforting, still old friends to be consulted in time of need. Some of them will make you laugh your platform heels off.

BA-booksNow the Folk School needs your help to build a home for Papermaking, Marbling, Calligraphy, Printmaking, Bookbinding, and Conservation. We have dynamite master teachers in these areas, and a younger generation of enthusiastic devotees. It is an important field of work that needs its own inspiring space.

Be you blacksmith, jeweler, woodturner, quilter or spinner, follower of basketry, kaleidoscopy or weaving, spinner, picker, poet or potter, fly-fisher or pie-baker, square-dancer, carver, or word-reader, this is your Folk School, and this is your new temple to the arts that got us this far and will keep us going.

Jan-HeadshotLove from Brasstown,



Jan Davidson,


Support Our New Book & Paper Arts Studio  

Students from across the country have come to the Folk School eager to learn Book Arts, Paper Arts, Printmaking, Paper Marbling, Calligraphy, and more. This handmade book with embossed copper cover and fine art papers designed by book arts instructor Holly Fouts was created as part of the school’s fundraising campaign for the new studio. To continue expanding our Book & Paper Arts Program, we will build a brand-new studio when the funding is complete.

You can donate here on our secure site, or by calling us at 1-800-FOLK-SCH. For more information about supporting the new Studio, including the “Buy a Book” Program, contact Reed Caldwell, Development Manager. Read more about the Book & Paper Arts Studio on our website

A “Big Thanks” to Holly Fouts

The handmade book at the very top of this blog with embossed copper cover and fine art papers designed by book arts instructor Holly Fouts was created as part of the school’s fundraising campaign for the new studio.

  • Rosemary Brnson
    Posted at 20:37h, 01 August

    What is the financial goal and what percentage have you reached? I am eager to see this happen.

    • Cory Marie Podielski
      Posted at 08:19h, 07 August

      Development Manager Reed Caldwell is the person to ask about this. I will forward him your comment.

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