[caption id="attachment_15948" align="aligncenter" width="630"] Children make cookies for the Holiday Kids Party[/caption]
The month of December is a special time at the Folk School. Events, parties, food, themed classes, concerts, dances and performances unite the community in the holiday spirit. When the wreaths, garlands, and handcrafted ornaments appear in early December, we know the magic of the season has arrived. Recently, I connected with Nanette Davidson, our longtime decorating maven and mastermind, to ask about holiday traditions at the Folk School. Enjoy our interview!
[caption id="attachment_15944" align="alignright" width="228"] Nanette in the Cooking Studio[/caption]
CP:When does the holiday season begin for you?
ND: Well, I think about this off and on through out the year, planning simple projects for the winter holiday season and for spring's May Day and June's Auction Gala sometimes many months in advance. I have asked for help from other artists and dancers in the community to generate handmade decorations including giant puppets for parades. Jan and I love the seasonal celebrations that come from many rural, agricultural communities. When you live in the Appalachian countryside where there are distinct perennial landscapes, it's easy to celebrate the beauty of the changing seasons.
CP:What is your favorite Folk School December holiday tradition?
ND: We have so many great parties in December for the local community as well as our students who come in for a week. In the original days of the JCCFS, the student body was closely tied to the community and seasonal events were held to pull everyone together. We still want to include our local community and they are present here at weekly dances and concerts. We have the Old Folks Party, Christmas Dance/Dessert Potluck, New Year's Eve Dance, and the Children's Party when Santa arrives in the BFD Firetruck, sirens wailing. I have always helped with the Children's Party which includes crafts, musical chairs, storytelling, Morris performance, homemade cookies, and live music and dance for the kids. Even though we are an adult school we reach out to our local kids at Christmas and in the summer. More and more show up on the dance floor now. Every child that has a great folk school experience can help us preserve the school for the future.
[caption id="attachment_15589" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Excitement is building in our Book & Paper Arts classes as the new studio construction is underway![/caption]
Next time you drive down Brasstown Rd., take a gander at the field by the Painting Studio and you will see construction in progress for our new Book & Paper Arts Studio.
The Folk School is approaching the end of the campaign for the new Book & Paper Arts Studio. We have been able to raise $483,490 out of our $508,000 goal and we hope to finalize the funding needed for this project in the coming months. The School has already broken ground on the structure and we plan to have the studio completed in 2017.
[caption id="attachment_9578" align="aligncenter" width="600"] An artist's rendition of the new Book and Paper Arts Studio by Harris Architects.[/caption]
“The new studio literally opens the doors to expanded class offerings, with increased light and physical space to spread out on new workbenches, with square footage for new equipment we have dreamed of for years. In fact, the FS was awarded a grant to buy much-needed new equipment, including a letterpress for printmaking, a pulp vat and Hollander beater for papermaking, and an industrial rack for drying all kinds of papers and prints, to name just a few! There is much more awaiting you in this new building, and we hope to be opening the doors next year. I would like to thank all of the campaign donors for your generosity and commitment to expanding our corner of this unique school.”
–Dea Sasso, Resident Artist of Book & Paper Arts, Printmaking, Marbling, & Calligraphy
Are you ever inspired during the holiday season and decide to try your hand at making a gingerbread house from scratch? Annnnnd then your dreams of edible decorative glory come crashing down when your gingerbread house looks more like a shanty shack than a storybook chalet? I’ve been there, and maybe you have too. Have no fear! Expert baker and cake decorator, Jodi Rhoden will be here to save the (holi)day with her upcoming weekend class: Handmade Gingerbread Houses.
[caption id="attachment_15383" align="aligncenter" width="630"] Jodi and her son Jasper show off their gingerbread house creations.[/caption]
CP:What do you like about gingerbread houses?
JR: The first time I ever made a gingerbread house, I was enchanted. I really felt like I wanted to become miniature and live inside the house! It feels completely magical and fantastical to create a little home out of candy and sweet gingerbread, and the smells, and textures (and of course, tastes, because there’s always scrap pieces of gingerbread that need to be eaten!) are uniquely pleasurable to the senses.
[caption id="attachment_15381" align="alignright" width="226"] Photo by Nicole McConville[/caption]
CP:Do you have to be architecturally skilled to make a good gingerbread house? Who is the ideal student for your class?
JR: You do not have to be architecturally skilled to build a gingerbread house! The icing and the candy make it very forgiving. Like most things worth doing, though, it does take time. We will spend a good amount of time in the planning phase, cutting and measuring templates to create the right sizes for the pieces. I also always like to bake extra pieces, in case something breaks or bakes wonky.
CP:Have you ever participated in the National Gingerbread house Competition is at the Grove Park Inn? Did the proximity of this annual event in Asheville influence your interest in gingerbread house making?JR: It has always been my dream to enter a house into the competition at the Grove Park Inn, though up until now I have been too busy with my business, Short Street Cakes, to seriously consider it. But now that I have sold my business to my employee, this just might be the right time!
[caption id="attachment_15368" align="alignright" width="210"] Scott Cole[/caption]
Earlier this month, I had the chance to take a class on kaleidoscopes with longtime Folk School instructor Scott Cole. I’ve taken many classes at the Folk School, but I’ll admit I was a little daunted to work with glass and metal, both materials I’ve had little experience with.
The first night, we set up our studio as a group, looked at examples of the many styles of kaleidoscopes, and had our first small challenge: taping a set of three long mirrors together to create the reflective pattern found in many kaleidoscopes. Our first night’s homework was deceptively simple: take home your mirrors and master their assembly.
The next day, Scott walked us through the process for making a basic brass kaleidoscope. We learned to cut glass, cut our mirrors, glue with epoxy (occasionally a sticky mess for some of us), and how to shape small pieces of glass for our kaleidoscopes’ object cell. While our first kaleidoscopes had matching exteriors and mirror systems, we each found ways to personalize our scopes in ways that matched our individual sense of color, movement, and texture.
[caption id="attachment_15062" align="alignright" width="225"] Lighting a still life with vase and grasses[/caption]
What’s better than a week at the Folk School? Two weeks, of course. That’s why after teaching the Science of Bread in May I stayed to take Drawing Techniques and Tools with Pebbie Mott and Pam Beagle-Daresta.
The first day we learned about the tools we’d be trying: drawing pencils (which range in darkness from the pale 9H to the black 9B), water color pencils (draw, then add water), charcoals (soft and hard, plus white to use on gray paper), ink with a brush and bamboo pen (Pam brought walnut ink she’d made in a previous class), and Micron pens. After trying the techniques, we’d pick one for a final project.
[caption id="attachment_15060" align="aligncenter" width="630"] White vessel to practice values with light and shadows[/caption]
I first met Tim Ryan on a misty morning in the Folk School Garden when I was a Work/Study in 2011. My immediate impression of him was that he was a very witty & interesting character with lots of fantastic stories. Tim is involved in the Folk School in so many different ways. He recently handed over his position as Resident Artist in Gardening and Homesteading to Karen Hurtubise and he will be co-auctioning (with Bob Grove) the Gala & Benefit Auction on June 11, 2016. I thought this would be a good moment to sit down and learn a little bit about Tim the gardener, auctioneer, medicine showman, raconteur, kettle cooker, blacksmith, instructor, former Folk School Board member, bibliophile, and storyteller, that is Tim Ryan. We recently sat down over lunch to talk about many things. Enjoy our interview!CP:When did you first come to the Folk School?
[caption id="attachment_15023" align="alignright" width="289"] Tim Ryan with a bonsai tree[/caption]
TR: I had gotten divorced and it killed me. This was 26 years ago. I was depressed and blue and three things saved me: my Blacksmithing buddies, Al-Anon, and having a daughter.
At one of the Appalachian Area Chapter Blacksmith Meetings in Mt. Juliet TN, they were having a raffle and the winner would get a free class at the Folk School. Well I don’t usually enter raffles, but my Blacksmithing buddies convinced me to enter and I won. I think they set it up because I was depressed and they knew I needed something else to focus on. It worked because I won the raffle in March or April and the class wasn’t until October, so all summer long I worked hard to become a better blacksmith, worthy of the class at the Folk School.
In the fall of 1990, I used my scholarship to take a 2-week Blacksmithing class at the Folk School with Francis Whitaker, which I was by no means near prepared for, naturally.
[caption id="attachment_15036" align="aligncenter" width="630"] The Folk School Blacksmith Shop (Original Francis Whitaker Shop in the foreground, the new Clay Spencer Shop in the background)[/caption]
I just finished teaching a weekend class on pollinators and gardening at the Folk School. My class was a great group of folks. We learned about seeding starting and growing native milkweeds for monarch eggs and caterpillars, planting flowers, native shrubs and trees for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, the challenges of neonicotinoids and herbicides. The weekend exhibited beautiful May weather! Enjoy our photo album:
John Clarke in the Folk School bee yard, showing the class the old bee hives, plus two brand new Russian bee colonies installed from the Beekeeping Class three weeks ago with Virginia Webb. Russian bees seem to be more varrora mite resistant than our beloved Italian honey bees.
Every year, we have a sweet tooth soothing tradition in Emily Buehler's bread baking class. On Thursday, students team up to make a special recipe: Emily's Mom's Sticky Buns. The beginning of the week is spent learning the basics of breads like baguettes, sourdough loaves and whole wheat sandwich bread. By Thursday, students are happy to shift gears from savory to sweet for this divine gooey treat.