It is Thursday afternoon. Outside the writing studio window, the day is bathed in sunlight, the limb patterns on the grass motionless. Inside the studio, writers are at work with pen or laptop, or staring out the window, or sitting chin in hand. Chairs squeak, the printer clacks, the clock ticks. Small sounds that only accentuate the silence. The writing group is focused, which is different from a focus group . . . or maybe it isn’t.
I wondered, on Sunday before I arrived, who these people in the class would be, what they would be seeking, what they would be bringing. On Monday, as we tiptoed toward one another, I began to find out. Talking and listening, deciding what to offer up from our own personal stories, we began to trust. This is what I expected.
In the afternoon, we scattered across the campus, each of us to a different studio. The instructor had told us, “Write about what you are seeing, hearing, feeling there.” I heard only birdsong as I walked outside; all the other students were sequestered in class.
Rounding the mulched curve to the Woodworking Studio, I saw steam. The porch was steaming. I asked the man tending the steam if I’d found the banjo-making class. “You have,” he said. “I’m one of the instructors and I’m about to begin a steam-bending demo. Feel free to go inside and look around.” Noise! The moment I opened the studio door I was met with a wall of noise. Not from banjos playing, but machinery noise. What I saw was clusters of students working so intently that they didn’t even notice my presence. I expected to be questioned; instead, I was invisible.
I realized soon after joining the Folk School this summer that this was a unique place brimming with stories. Stories about what happens here, stories about learning a new skill or technique. Stories about how a week at the Folk School has transformed lives, created rich new relationships and empowered students and instructors to make new discoveries about themselves and others.
Corie Pressley, for example, grew up in Brasstown. She first came to Little Middle Folk School at the age of 5 and has memories of her mother taking her to Saturday community dances. Corie credits her confidence, her freedom of expression and her personal growth to her youth spent at the Folk School. Today, Corie and her twin sister Katie—both of them accomplished musicians—perform on stages throughout the region, including our Festival Barn stage. A recent graduate of Young Harris College, Corie is back at the Folk School, this time as an employee in the programming department.
“What would my life be like if I had not found the Folk School?” ponders Corie. “The Folk School is a dream come true.”
[caption id="attachment_17444" align="aligncenter" width="630"] Collograph with Feather and Fabric[/caption]
Last month’s printmaking class didn’t go as I’d planned.
The class was “Printmaking Paradise,” a survey of techniques, taught by Sally and Dick Walsh. In class, Sally taught us a few techniques each day. Some used the printing press, and some we could do at home with no fancy equipment. Sally encouraged us to have fun: to try everything but to go with the techniques we resonated with.
On day one, we tackled collagraphs. They seemed simple enough: spread ink onto a piece of matte board, lay found objects on top, cover with paper, and run the whole thing through the printing press. The first print will be a little sloppy, but the second and third will have more defined features, showing the textures of the objects. Sally’s example had a beautifully detailed feather printed on it.
I waited with eager fingers for my print to roll through the press. Then I peeled it off the board. My feather had printed as a disappointing white blotch: not enough ink. “Make another one!” Dick suggested, so I did, this time gopping on the ink under my feather. You can’t understand the process until you do it, I thought. Why did I expect things to be perfect the first time?