[caption id="attachment_16959" align="aligncenter" width="630"] The morning after the bloom, a bee visits the Tina James Magic Primrose.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_16955" align="alignright" width="333"] The fresh Evening Primrose blooms at dusk[/caption]
Our Tina James Magic Primrose plants have been putting on quite a show for the past few weeks at dusk in the Vegetable Garden and behind the Painting Studio. The tightly wound yellow blooms dramatically open as night falls (around 9 p.m.). Before the show starts, visitors walk around the plant to see if they can guess which bloom will lead be the leading note of the overture. Excitement and anticipation is high and it is easy to feel giddy, like a little kid again.
The sepals (the green outside of the flower) peel down the flower and the tightly wound yellow trumpet begins to relax and open. Within seconds, before your very eyes, the blossom opens fully and settles into a large bright yellow flower with a delicate, sweet smell. It's is like watching time-elapsed photography in real time; it's just incredible. Each bloom only lasts through the night until mid-morning of the next day, attracting pollinators like bumble bees and butterflies during the morning and large humming bird-sized lunar moths at night.
[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
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.
[caption id="attachment_13059" align="aligncenter" width="600"] The "Science of Bread" Class Photo, May 2015[/caption]
Magical. That’s the word used over and over to describe a week at the Folk School. And there’s always something that makes the visit extra special: last May it was the baby barn swallows peeking over the edges of their nests in the rafters outside Davidson Hall.
This year it was the mountain laurel in full bloom; the mother-to-be barn swallows sat patiently atop their nests. The Folk School is a magical place, but also, when you’re there, you slow down and pay attention to things like the birds and flowers.
[caption id="attachment_13066" align="alignright" width="215"] Nicholas holds the focaccia fresh out of the oven.[/caption]
I was at the Folk School last week to teach my annual “Science of Bread” class—not a magical name by any means, but bread-making can be wondrous even when you know about the microorganisms and molecules that make it work. In addition to making dozens of loaves, the class started a sourdough starter by attracting wild yeasts and bread-making bacteria from the air into a container of flour and water. They also braved the production of salt-rising bread, a first for me. Making salt-rising bread is similar to creating a sourdough starter in that ingredients (in our case, raw potatoes, corn meal, sugar, and baking soda) are left out to attract microorganisms that cause the bread to rise when the dough is mixed the next day. (“Salt-rising” is a misnomer.) The ingredients are kept at 110 degrees, however, so that the microorganisms attracted to the mixture are different than the usual ones; this results in the unique flavor and aroma of salt-rising bread.
I stopped by the Oscar Cantrell Blacksmith Shop, the current shop of Resident Blacksmith, Paul Garrett. Paul and I talked about the upcoming Blacksmith & Fine Craft Auction on November 1, a special event planned for October 31st, and about Folk School life in general. Enjoy!
[caption id="attachment_11679" align="aligncenter" width="600" class=" "] See blacksmiths in action forging items in the Clay Spencer Blacksmith Shop on October 31 at 7 p.m. Items created will be auctioned off the following day at the Blacksmith & Fine Craft Auction.[/caption]
CP:So, the Blacksmith & Fine Craft Auction is coming up on November 1. I hear there’s going to be a new special event on Friday night. Can you talk about that?PG: I can. Traditionally, there has been a joint meeting of the Appalachian Area Chapter of Blacksmiths (AACB) and NC ABANA at the Folk School during the auction weekend. The meeting is on Saturday morning, bright and early.
[caption id="attachment_11683" align="alignright" width="320"] Fire place set forged at the "Hammer In" 2013[/caption]
I had been trying to think of a way to expand the meeting and make it more appealing for smiths to stay over on Friday night. Last year, we tried a small invitational Friday night “Hammer In” (A "Hammer In" is where blacksmiths get together and make things collaboratively). It went really well. We made a few things for the auction, including a fireplace set, and it was encouraging enough to try it again this year.
I put the word out to members of the blacksmith chapters and we are expecting quite a few smiths on the evening of October 31st. We are opening the shop up to auction goers to come and see what’s involved in the work and to observe how the items are handcrafted. I believe it will add value and interest to the pieces if folks can see the forging process.
Tim Ryan is going to have a kettle of cooked goodness to offer up for a small cost per bowl. It’s gonna be fun! We are going to have a few set projects: a fire tools set and maybe a sculptural piece. Blacksmiths can forge smaller items too. It’ll be a good crowd.
To have the freedom we had as children: to explore, to try new things, to dabble, to be alright with not being good at it, to immerse ourselves and relinquish all responsibilities for awhile… sound good? Since 1925, John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC has been answering the call of adults who want to have fun learning about music, art, nature, crafts, gardening, cooking, storytelling and writing.
[caption id="attachment_11005" align="alignleft" width="268"] Folk school gardens[/caption]
Their history is fascinating. The school’s namesake, John C. Campbell was described by his colleagues at Piedmont College as “the guy from up North that you can get along with” when he was president of the school. In 1903, he and his wife Olive Dame outfitted a covered wagon and set out to explore Appalachia. John interviewed farmers about their agricultural practices and Olive collected traditional ballads and studied the handicrafts. They aspired to improve the quality of education in the region but they were also studying the wonderful crafts, music and tools that mountain people used. Beyond cruel stereotypes, not much was known of this region at the time. The book of ballads Olive eventually published is still the seminal work on the subject.