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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"]Gardens 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.

[caption id="attachment_9620" align="aligncenter" width="425"]"Crow" Block and Print by Sandy Webster instructor of "White-line Printmaking" January 5-11, 2014 "Crow" Block and Print by Sandy Webster[/caption]

A lot of people think they can't dance. But then they try contra dancing: they can jump right in as a beginner. The moves are straightforward, and they don't need any special skills. With practice, they become smoother and learn some extra moves, but the initial learning curve is a mere ripple in the road.

White line printmaking is the contra dance of the art world. I spent last week in Sandy Webster's printmaking class and enjoyed every minute of it.

I'd chosen the class for many reasons: I like how woodblock prints look, and the class had a low materials cost. I would not have to buy expensive tools and could use my old watercolor set. As I had hoped, the technique proved to be one that I can easily continue to do at home, even without a studio space.

[caption id="attachment_9617" align="aligncenter" width="425"]"White-line Printmaking" Process: Poppy Line Drawing, Poppy Board, Poppy Print White-line Printmaking Process: Line Drawing, Board, and Print by Emily Buehler[/caption]