16 May Create potholders that are like “miniature works of fabric art” with Laurel Horton
Laurel Horton is an accomplished quilter and historian whose been teaching at the John C. Campbell Folk School since 1990! We’re thrilled to have her back this summer to lead a class that will help students add a homemade touch to their day-to-day life.
“Potholders for the Kitchen and Beyond,” from July 7-9, is the perfect weekend class for quilters of all levels. Beginners can try their hand at a simple project that will wow their friends and family members, while intermediate makers will learn a creative way to use up scrap fabric. Did we mention the potholders make great gifts? It’s why Laurel started making them herself!
Enjoy our interview below where Laurel tells us about her extensive quilting experience, her storied history with the Folk School, and what students can expect in her upcoming class. You can register online today for this exciting weekend class.
JCCFS: Tell us more about your upcoming class, “Potholders for the Kitchen and Beyond,” happening in July. What will folks learn and what can they expect to leave this class with?
LH: Students will make sturdy, utilitarian potholders, then create small pieces of original fabric art to hang in their kitchen or give to family and friends. Simple patchwork and construction techniques provide the perfect opportunity for creative experimentation with color and design. Beginning quilters are welcome, but experience with a sewing machine is recommended.
You can expect to take home a pair of functional potholders, and several decorative interpretations. You will learn several techniques and design options to transform bits of cloth into original fabric art, complete with a loop and ready to hang on the wall.
JCCFS: How did you get started quilting and what led you to make quilted potholders?
LH:I’ve been making quilts since 1975. I start with a big pile of fabric collected over the years, including “found” fabrics, thrift-store finds, and other people’s castoffs. Although I work on several pieces at a time, each one evolves individually. Instead of planning ahead, I choose each fabric as I go, guided by intuition, whimsy, and an inner sense of visual harmony. The results are satisfying, but it’s the process of seeing each piece emerge that motivates me.
I started making potholders years ago, as gifts for family, friends, and hostesses. I noticed that people displayed these pieces on their walls, so I started making them as miniature works of fabric art.
One of Laurel’s fantastic quilts. Photo by the artist.
JCCFS: What is your favorite aspect or part of the Folk School? What do you most look forward to when coming back to teach on our campus?
LH: I love being at the Folk School! When I teach, I look forward to meeting my students, hearing what they want to do, sharing what I know, and then seeing them take off in their own direction.
JCCFS: Tell us a little more about yourself for those who are unfamiliar.
LH: I’ve been making big quilts and wall hangings since 1975. I’ve also spent decades sharing my research findings through both scholarly and popular publications and working with museums—art and historical, local and national—to select and interpret quilts and related artifacts for exhibition and publication.
I have been teaching at the Folk School since 1990. I love sharing some simple techniques, then watching them take off on their own. Of the hundreds of students who have taken my class, every one of their quilts is different, uniquely their own.
JCCFS: Where do you draw inspiration from for your work?
LH: I draw inspiration from the Folk School’s mission to provide the conditions for students to explore new ways to express their individual creativity in a supportive environment.
JCCFS: What tips would you give an aspiring craftsperson?
LH: Follow where your interest takes you. It might not be a straight path, but consider every diversion an opportunity to learn something you’re going to need later.
Upcoming Class with Laurel
Potholders for the Kitchen and Beyond
July 7-9, 2023
Make sturdy, utilitarian potholders, then create small pieces of original fabric art to hang in your kitchen or give to family and friends. Simple patchwork and construction techniques provide the perfect opportunity for creative experimentation with color and design. Beginning quilters welcome; experience with a sewing machine is recommended.
About Laurel Horton
Laurel Horton has been researching and making quilts since 1975. She holds degrees in English (B.A.), Library Science (M,S.), and Folklore (M.A.). She has taught regularly at the Folk School since 1990. She enjoys sharing simple techniques that offer opportunities for individual expression. She has made and sold over 2,000 one-of-a-kind decorative Potholders since 2007.