News & Stories

Read about the Folk School experience from students and instructors. Hear about the latest news from our staff and Resident Artists.
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COVID-19 Vaccination Policy Update

Effective  Sunday, November 20, the vaccination...

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Winter Dance Week 2022

We’re very happy to welcome...

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Online Classes Return This Winter

The Folk School is excited...

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COVID-19 Mask Policy Update

Effective Sunday, October 16, masks...

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Wood Engraving: Carve Lightly

Enjoy a student perspective from...

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Lindsey Liden, Banjo Builder

In 1925, Lindsey Mulheron Liden’s...

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Welcome to Our New Website

Our new website is here!...

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2021 Annual Report – Singing Behind the Plow

Our 2021 Annual Report is now available...

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Little Middle 2022

Every summer the Folk School…

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Meet the Work Study: Session 1, 2022

The Folk School's Work Study...

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South Arts Southern Circuit Film Screenings: Spring 2022

In partnership with the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers, we are pleased to announce our spring lineup of in-person film screenings!

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Olive’s Porch Now Open

Olive’s Porch, a new Folk School experience in downtown Murphy, is opening this winter! Named after the school’s co-founder Olive Dame Campbell, the location at 27 Peachtree Street features classroom space, a retail shop showcasing the work of Appalachian artists, and a studio space dedicated to the Artist in Residence Program.

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Folk School Holiday Memories with Carolyn Anderson

Carolyn Anderson is a long-standing member of the renowned Brasstown Carvers and a member of The Southern Highlands Craft Guild. Always quick with encouragement to new carvers, she possesses a sweet and generous nature and is a genuine embodiment of the Folk School’s values of Joy, Kindness, and Stewardship.

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Remembering Carla Owen

We are mourning the loss…

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All Hail the Tinsmiths

Tinsmithing. It doesn’t have the…

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Working Under the Star – Part IV

In 2013, I posted a three-part blog serially on the Folk School home page titled “Working Under the Star Part I, II, and III”. The series related a touching description of two work camps conducted at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC in the summers of 1945 and 1946 by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). The AFSC is the voluntary service arm of the Quaker denomination. Mrs. Campbell was familiar with the AFSC having utilized several individuals from the organization in the past.

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Craft Shop Interview: Jessica Kaufman, Fiber and Surface Design Artist

Jessica Kaufman is the founder and owner of WAXON Studio in West Asheville, NC. She recently joined Tammy Elwell to talk about her relationship with the Folk School, her dyeing process, and realizing her dream of creating batik and tie-dye kitchen textiles. Enjoy our interview!

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Exploring Campus with Carol Parks

On the week of our reopening, Carol joined us to teach her class Campus Sketch Crawl. Read below to hear her thoughts on being back in the studio and to see the artwork of campus her students produced!

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Welcome Jason Ebinger

We would like to extend a warm welcome to our new Gardener, Jason Ebinger! Jason has an extensive history managing farm and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Folk School. We look forward to seeing how the garden flourishes this year. Read more to learn about Jason and his goals in this position.

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The Importance of Carrying on Tradition: Interview with Gina Myers, 3rd Generation Cherokee Potter

Gina “Swimmer” Myers sat down with Tammy Elwell recently for a conversation about her craft. Gina comes from a long line of established Cherokee potters, the granddaughter of renowned Cherokee potter Amanda “Sequoyah” Swimmer. Her craft has been inspired by the strong women in her life and her commitment to the stewardship of traditional Cherokee crafts.

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Welcome Allie Dudley, Resident Artist in Weaving, Rugs, Thread Art, Lace and Beading

We would like to extend a warm welcome to Allie Dudley, our new Resident Artist in Weaving, Rugs, Thread Art, Lace, and Beading! Allie is a fiber artist and teacher who works primarily with weaving and embroidery, whose tapestries and other works have been included in several international fiber shows.

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Radical, Righteous, Women at the Folk School

In honor of Women’s History Month, I had short chat with Mary Doornbos, former Craft Shop Manager at the Folk School. The month of March was declared Women’s History Month in an effort to commemorate and encourage the study, observance, and celebration of women in America.

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Thank You for the Wonderful Lessonface Experience

We send a big “thank you” to the students, instructors, and staff who helped to make our Lessonface classes a big success. So far, over 300 students enjoyed our online course offerings in 10 different media including cooking, fiber arts, glass beadmaking, music and dance, nature studies, painting, paper arts, photography, storytelling, woodturning and writing.

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The Importance of Being a Student: An Interview with Jeff Hornung

Jumpstarted by a Folk School woodturning class nine years ago, Jeff Hornung began his own woodturning business after recovering from post-concussion syndrome. Now, he is a Folk School instructor, juried artist, national and international demonstrator, author, and Artist-in-Residence at the Craft Alliance School of Art + Design in St. Louis, Missouri.

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Elizabeth Belz Reflects on Creative Catalyst Fellowship

Blacksmith and Metalworker Elizabeth Belz...

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Appalachian Traditions Discussion with Ann Miller Woodford

We are excited to present artist, author, and speaker Ann Miller Woodford on March 19 from 4–5 p.m. for our Appalachian Traditions Discussion on Zoom. Learn more!

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Interview with Barbara Joiner, Resident Artist in Jewelry & Metals

Barbara joined Tammy Elwell in the Craft Shop for an afternoon of questions where she shared some wonderful insights into her journey as a maker, artist, and teacher. Barbara is a renowned jewelry artist and our Resident Artist in theJewelry and Metal Studio. Enjoy the interview!

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Recreating a 1933 Doris Ulmann Photograph with Lesley Darling

Last fall, I and eight other craftspeople joined John C Campbell for the second session of the Traditional Craft Mentorship program. During this four-week program, we lived, ate, and crafted on campus (socially distanced of course). While we wait patiently for the Folk School to open in person later this year, I thought I’d share a story about just one adventure that befell us in October.

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REACH at the Forge: Piloting Blacksmithing Classes for the Future

In December of 2020, Lynda Metcalfe and Elizabeth Belz came together to teach two 2-hour long blacksmithing classes in the Clay Spencer shop to 7 staff and residents from the Cherokee and Clay County Women’s shelter, REACH.

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Margaret Dugger’s Perspective on Mentorship

My experience at the Folk School left my heart renewed. The mentorship program was a unique opportunity, and in a year of cancellations, it was a breath of fresh air. I applied to it because I wanted the luxury of being a student: studying history, taking an in-depth look at a few topics, and being able to weave for a month with other weavers. I am at a stage in my career where it feels best to apply to everything I am qualified for and to run with any opportunities given. I ended up falling in love with the Appalachian mountains again and learning so much about what I thought I already knew.

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Making Colorful Corn Shuck Dolls with Anne Freels

Pumpkin season means farmers’ markets and local growers have pumpkins galore in the mountains. They’re technically a squash and extremely healthful. But combine pumpkin with chocolate chips in this delicious cake and you’ve got a match made in heaven.

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Appalachian Traditions with Brasstown Carver Helen Gibson

Join us in welcoming Helen Gibson for this month’s Appalachian Traditions, virtual discussions with instructors from our master-artist-led series on traditional Appalachian craft.

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Appalachian Broom Making with Marlow Gates

Whatever your abode, castle, or cottage, you most likely have a broom in your home or hanging on your hearth. From besoms and cobweb brooms to more modern flat brooms and whimsical sculptural objects, brooms are important cultural symbols used for decoration and ritual, as well as functional tools.

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A Look at the First Plants of the Cory Brown Memorial Dye Garden

Welcome to the new Folk School Dye Garden. Natural dye comes from the leaves, flowers, or roots of plants. In this video, we will take a look at Nankeen cotton, indigo, coreopsis, yarrow, French marigolds, madder, chamomile, and purple gromwell.

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Coming Together: COVID-19 Folklife Resources

While we continue to monitor COVID-19 updates, we have been overwhelmed by the resources we’ve found providing assistance to folklife organizations, artists, and storytellers. We have compiled this list of COVID-19 folklife resources so that others can continue to share their stories, crafts, and rich cultural heritage during this time.

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I Made a Classic Appalachian-style Ladderback Chair with Lyle Wheeler

Lyle Wheeler, a longtime Folk School instructor in both Woodworking and Blacksmithing, is a treasure of the Folk School. The week I spent years ago, building a ladderback chair with Lyle, changed the way I think about craft and my own capabilities as a maker. I am excited that later this month Lyle will be giving a Zoom presentation on June 15 as part of the Folk School’s Appalachian Traditions Discussion series. I encourage you to tune into his talk, and learn from this wonderful self-proclaimed “all-around “good ol’ boy” from Millers Creek, North Carolina.”

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Autoharp Musings with Leah Dolgoy

On Friday, May 29, the sweet-stringed sounds of Leah Dolgoy’s autoharp filled Folk School ears with joy and magic for our Facebook Live Morningsong. If you missed the live show, be sure to watch the recording via the link posted here in our blog post. Also, enjoy an interview with Leah, originally published in 2016.

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Tune Into Virtual Morningsong Every Friday

Join us every Friday morning on Facebook Live for Virtual Morningsong. It’s a great way to start the day! To watch live, all you have to do is visit our Facebook Page at 7:45–8:15 a.m. on Fridays. If you miss a Morningsong, or want to re-watch, you can view the recordings by following the links in the artists section.

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What’s An Artist to Do?

June Rollins shares a video she made for her watercolor class and gives us some tips for artists while staying at home.

“Like many of us, Rob, my husband, and I have been at home since Mid-March. The first couple of weeks it felt like I had taken early retirement. I was scheduled to teach my first, week-long watercolor class at the Folk School, March 29–April 4, 2020. It didn’t happen. My class was just one of many that had to be canceled. I had planned on sharing the painting steps of “Made For The Sun,” with my class. Instead, I’d like to share them with you in the video slideshow below.”

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Shearing Day at Martha’s Farm & A Prize for All

The days have pushed themselves along since the birth of our three brave lambs born to “Robin” on March 6th. When they arrived, I did not call them anything much. I just looked at them, noted their shape and health and desire to eat, and thought, Those three, they are the ones without names!

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A Look Back at Folk School May Day Celebrations

Wishing you a happy May Day! We’re looking forward to dancing around the May Pole together again, but until then, we put together this post filled with photos of years past, a video from 2011, and an excerpt by Nanette Davidson about May Day from The Folk School Cookbook. Enjoy!

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Coming Together: COVID-19 Community Resources

As we enter a new normal, we are discovering ways to support our neighbors during these trying times. We feel it’s essential to stay connected and to share information about ways our community can give and receive support. We have created this community resource list and will continue to update it as we learn new information.

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Coming Together: COVID-19 Artist Resources

We are encouraged by the outpouring of support and concern for the craft community as we learn about resources for artists during these times. We have compiled a list of COVID-19 resources available for artists here. If you have additional information and would like to contribute to this list, please post a comment below.

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A Look at Southern Scrap Quilts with Pepper Cory

One of Pepper’s specialties is Southern scrap quilts, both making and collecting. Pepper explains that Southern scrap quilts, particularly from North Carolina, are a fascinating study in frugality, family life, and beauty.

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Cannon County Basket Tradition with Sue Williams

Sue Williams is recognized for the preservation of the Cannon County white oak basket making tradition, one of the most renowned basket making traditions in the United States. Sue’s commitment to education, advocacy, and teaching the tradition has secured a future for the this style beyond the original basket making families of Cannon County, Tennessee. We are delighted to have Sue teach the Cannon County white oak basket style regularly at the Folk School.

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Folk School Stories: Jo Haas

“Magical.” That’s how Jo Haas describes the first time she visited our beloved Folk School. Five years ago, Jo was looking for an immersive experience that would really help her unplug from her busy life as CEO of the non-profit Kentucky Science Center.

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Fantastic Recycled Plastic Art: An Interview with David Edgar

Imagine transforming your trash into treasure by creating fantastic plastic creatures and whimsical designs with recycled plastic. David Edgar, an artist who sculpted in steel for 30 years, now creates stunning pieces in plastic and he can teach you to do it too in his upcoming class: Fantastic Recycled Plastic. Lets get to know David a little more and discover the world of plastic art. Enjoy our interview!

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Writing Memories into Family Histories: An Interview with Robin Edgar

When you take a Folk School class, you never know who you will meet. Last fall, I had the pleasure of sitting next to Robin Edgar in the herbalism class during Shaker Week. I learned that she and her husband, David Edgar, have been teaching classes at the Folk School since 1996! Robin teaches writing and David teaches the unique craft of turning recycled plastic into fantastic creations. This year, they are both teaching during Earth Week, April 19–24, 2020. In her upcoming class, Turning Fond Memories into Family Histories, students will discover how to use sights, sounds, and even smells to recall and record meaningful memories.

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Help Foster a Child’s Learning and Creativity

For only $173, you can help foster a child’s learning and creativity. By providing a scholarship for our week-long Little/Middle Folk School, you can help kids learn about Appalachian culture and explore fun and educational art and craft classes.

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Fire and Light

The Sunday sun was sinking behind the Blue Ridge Mountains when my husband Randy and I arrived at the world-renowned John C. Campbell Folk School. It was the beginning of a week of classes set against the backdrop of purple mountain peaks and green valleys dotted with hay bales.

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Folk School Stories: Luz and John Frye

Luz and John think it’s important to financially support our non-profit school that provides such value to them, so they include the Folk School in both their annual giving and estate plans. “This is a significant place that’s different than most of the rest of the world, so we want to support it,” John said. “If we don’t support it as individuals, then we can’t encourage other people and grantors to support it.”  

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Studio Batik with Jessica Kaufman

Have you ever wanted to try batik and hand-dyeing? We have a very special surface design class coming up on January 12–18, 2020 with Jessica Kaufman: Studio Batik: Many Techniques, Amazing Results. Jessica has studied batik methods from Indonesia and India and is the owner of WAXON Batik & Dye Studio in Asheville, NC.

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The Modern Asian Kitchen with Patrick O’Cain

I met with chef Patrick O’Cain at his popular Asheville restaurant, Gàn Shān Station, to interview him about his upcoming class at the Folk School, The Modern Asian Kitchen. We are excited to have him return to Brasstown, April 12–18, 2020, to share his knowledge of Asian cooking. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from a renowned and celebrated Asheville chef and immerse yourself in the cooking cultures of China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and beyond.

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Shaker Herbs, Roots, Barks & Lore with Jamie Sparks

Have you always been drawn to the idea of using herbs to make your own products, teas, drinks, and food? Immerse yourself in weeklong class, Shaker Herbs, Roots, Barks, and Lore, taught by herbalist Jamie Sparks during Shaker Week, November 3–9. Explore how Shakers used plants to be self-reliant and to connect to the natural world. Jamie has a lot of wisdom to share, so let’s learn a little more about her experience and what’s in store for the class.

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Folk School Stories: Karen and Paul Rusello

Whatever your abode, castle or cottage, you most likely have a broom in your home or hanging on your hearth. From besoms and cobweb brooms to more modern flat brooms and whimsical sculptural objects, brooms are important cultural symbols used for decoration and ritual, as well as functional tools. At the Folk School, we have both week-long and weekend classes for you to explore the rich heritage of broom making with renowned artisans.

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Rags to Riches with JoEl Levy LoGiudice

Rag rug weaving embraces the folk art tradition of using everyday, readily available materials to build aesthetically beautiful, yet functional art: textiles made from the things we have, can forage, or acquire. With the craze du jour surrounding KonMari, now is a good time to think about new options for all those clothes you may be putting into the “Thank you, goodbye” pile. Rag rug weaving might be your perfect option!

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Paper Thread Sculptural Basketry with Aimee Lee

If you are interested in basketry, paper art, or weaving, and want to learn new techniques, materials, and form, don’t miss our upcoming class with Aimee Lee, Paper Thread through Asia, scheduled for June 9–15, 2019. You will discover ancient techniques of transforming paper into thread, cord, small weavings, and sculptural basketry. Based on Korean and Japanese traditions of jiseung (paper basketry) and shifu (paper cloth), you will learn to spin one-ply thread and twist two-ply cord in completely different ways.

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Thank You for a Wonderful Friends & Family Day

We had a wonderful time at our first-ever Friends & Family Day on May 11! Community members of all ages toured our open studios, participated in hands-on making, watched demonstrations, enjoyed music & dance performances, savored local food, and learned all about the Folk School.

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Folk School Recipe: White Coconut Cake with Lemon Curd Filling

This lovely cake is perfect for Easter, May Day, or Mother’s Day, a wedding or baby shower or a spring birthday. It’s both beautiful and scrumptious and tastes like the very epitome of spring. If, for no other reason, you want to simply make it to mark the season, share it proudly and lovingly with friends and family.

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Folk Harp Gathering

Folk harp enthusiasts! Come celebrate Scottish Heritage Week with the ancient instrument of Scotland, the Celtic or lever harp, in our class Folk Harp Gathering. This class encourages harp players to come together and share the history, learn tunes of the ancient harpers, and play songs and dances from Scotland and nearby Celtic lands. It is also a time to rekindle the friendships from past harp gatherings, meet new harp enthusiasts and play together in ensemble.

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Expectations by Lova Lantz

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.

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March of the Fiddlers

When students show up at an Intermediate-level fiddle class, they already know how to play some tunes — maybe some fast ones, maybe some waltzes; tunes learned from a friend or teacher or family member, tunes laboriously acquired from a scratchy old recording, or tunes read out of a tunebook.

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Antipasto Salad from the Folk School Cookbook

Today we’re sharing the perfect recipe for holiday potlucks. Antipasto Salad is easy to assemble and makes an impressive addition to any table.

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Marmalade Pork Chops Recipe

This recipe turns humble pork chops into supper for guests, especially when you serve it with Nanette’s Apple Chutney, braised beet greens, or broccoli.

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Folk School Stories: Tommye Scanlin

Having grown up just 12 miles down the road from Brasstown, many of Tommye Scanlin’s earliest Folk School memories date back to her youth. In the mid-1960s, she and her boyfriend would often catch a glimpse of campus on their way to the drive-in movie theater in Peachtree. Since those drive-in, drive by days, Tommye’s Folk School story has come full circle…

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The Folk School Cookbook

Author Nanette Davidson meticulously collected, curated, and adapted over 200 delicious recipes for The Folk School Cookbook. These include some of the most memorable recipes served family-style in the school’s Dining Hall and at seasonal celebrations over the decades. Bring the Folk School’s culinary traditions into your own kitchen and order your copy today!

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Weavers’ Work Week

In our recent letter from Folk School Director Jerry Jackson, Weavers’ Work Week was featured in Janet Davis’ story (if you missed it, read the letter online here). I thought this would be a great time to talk to Pam Howard, the Folk School’s Resident Weaver, about this special week. Weavers’ Work Week is an annual tradition at the Folk School where skilled weavers are invited to come for a week and volunteer their time to do projects around campus and make improvements in the studio. Let’s learn more from Pam…

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Folk School Stories: Janet Davis

When Janet Davis recently volunteered for Weavers’ Work Week, it was just her second visit to campus since her beloved husband, Jim, passed away in November 2017.

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The Photographic Tool Box with Stephanie Gross

Do you have a basic understanding of your DSLR camera and want to learn more in-depth techniques for improving your photography? Summertime at the Folk School provides an abundance of photographic material: pastoral landscapes, interesting folks, gardens, old buildings, barns, music, dance, craft studios. Instructor Stephanie Gross has a BFA in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design and has been making and thinking about photography for 25 years. Enjoy our interview!

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Flourishing at the Folk School: Corie Pressley

Corie Pressley has lived in tiny Brasstown, North Carolina, all her 21 young years. She commuted to college for two years but this scenic Appalachian community is where she’s grown up, developed, and matured. You might think her life experiences have been limited in this small town. But that’s where you’d be wrong.

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The Folk School on WREK Radio Atlanta

Did you get a chance to listen to the interview about the Folk School with Pattie Bagley, Mark Hendry and Jack Smoot on The Avenue Lounge Show on WREK Radio 91.1 FM, Atlanta, GA? If you missed the live show modern technology has preserved the interview for all to enjoy, at any time, here on Soundcloud. Learn about some Folk School history and also about Pattie, Mark, and Jack’s personal stories and experiences.

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Flameworking 101 with Carla Camasso

Have you ever wanted to experience the magic of moving molten glass? Flameworking 101 might be the craft for you! We are lucky to have Carla Camasso teach the art of flamework, also known as lampwork. Carla is a glass artist currently living in Asheville, North Carolina. Using a torch to melt and manipulate borosilicate glass, her work is greatly inspired by the beauty of nature. Learn more about Carla in this sweet interview I did with her in the Folk School Dining Hall during the week of her last class with us.

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Back in Time at the Folk School, and Biltmore

My recent trip to the Folk School was a little different than usual. For one thing, after ten years of teaching “The Science of Bread,” I shifted gears slightly and taught “Making Traditional Breads.” Thankfully, science still applies in traditional breads. The other difference was that my mom accompanied me for the first time, to take a quilting class…

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Listen to These Folk School Stories

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.

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Quest: Pottery, Printmaking & Family Vacations

I met Tom Quest over meatloaf dinner in the Dining Hall on Sunday night. We quickly discovered that we were enrolled in the same class: Jim Horton’s “Great American Poster” printmaking class. I discovered Tom is a professional potter and he got his start in clay years ago at the Folk School. He and his family often come here for vacation. This particular week, his wife and daughter were taking felting & dyeing together. I sat down with him to learn a little bit more about his pottery, our class, and why the Folk School is a great place for a family vacation. Enjoy our interview!

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Wanderlust: The Art of Travel Photography with Elizabeth Larson

If turning your vacation to the Folk School into an exploration of travel photography sounds like a dream exploration, be sure to check out our upcoming class Wanderlust: The Art of Travel Photography taught by Elizabeth Larson. Elizabeth has been a professional photographer for 26 years. She specializes in documentary wedding photography, lifestyles, natural portraiture, travel, and editorial work. Join Elizabeth on our pastoral 300-acre campus in the Appalachian Mountains and learn how to capture the spirit of your travels through the camera lens. Enjoy our interview and find out a little more about Elizabeth!

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Sienna’s First Class: Enameling

Read a sweet interview 18-year-old Sienna Bosch from Fort Collins, CO who took the class “Beginning Techniques in Enamel” with Christie Schuster. She was here with her mom, who was in printmaking class, and her dad, who taught woodturning. I sat down with her and talked about her experience. Enjoy our interview!

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We Have Appointed Our New Executive Director!

We have some very exciting news! We are happy to report that our new director has been chosen. Read the press release here:

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Letterpress Printmaking with Jessica White

Next week is a special week for our Book & Paper Arts Program as our brand new beautiful studio opens its doors to students for the very first time. It’s appropriate that the first class is a letterpress printing class considering that printmaking will flourish with the new space and room for equipment and presses. We talked with instructor Jessica White who is teaching the inaugural class about her craft and process. Enjoy our interview!

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The Magic of Paper Cutting with Ingrid Lavoie

The intricate paper cuts of Ingrid Lavoie draw you into a fantastic world of whimsy, nature, and storytelling. She enjoys unfolding a new work to reveal the paper’s transformation, and has been teaching others this delightful art form for several years. Enjoy our interview!