interview Tag

KS2A4495I 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"]Ryan_Tim_GA_BIO_KS2A5954_SN_ret 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]

On Friday, April 8, high school students in the Folk School JAM Program played a concert in the Community Room to celebrate the conclusion of the first session. Under the direction of Johnny Scroggs (guitar) and Peggy Patrick (fiddle), students spent 12 weeks learning traditional Appalachian music as part of the Folk School JAM program. We recently sat down with Program Director Hannah Levin to find out more about this wonderful program preserving traditional Appalachian music in our local high schools. Read on to find out how you (or your teen) can get involved! [caption id="attachment_14703" align="aligncenter" width="630"]JAM_Scroggs Johnny Scroggs leads a guitar lesson[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_14526" align="aligncenter" width="630"] Leah Dolgoy on the stage of the Carter Fold.[/caption] This May, the sweet-stringed sounds of Leah Dolgoy's autoharp will once again fill the Folk School campus with joy and magic. She returns to Brasstown to teach a music class focusing on the legacy of the Carter Family for continuing autoharpists. Leah is a two-term student host at the Folk School, she considers Appalachian old-time music to be her true love, and Brasstown a second home. [caption id="attachment_14531" align="alignright" width="233"]KS2A5198 Picking on the autoharp in the Music Studio[/caption] CP: When did you first hear the autoharp and what drew you to it? LD: I first heard the autoharp when a Canadian singer songwriter named Basia Bulat played it. I was actually at home with a fever, recovering from mononucleosis, and listening to a live broadcast of Basia’s concert on the CBC. I was immediately drawn to the instrument because of its unique sound. I remember listening  intently and trying to figure out what it was that she was playing. I was totally mesmerized. CP: Is the autoharp mostly a solo instrument or do you like to play with other people? LD: The autoharp can be either a solo instrument used to accompany yourself singing, or it works beautifully in an ensemble or a jam. I play it both ways but I certainly have a preference for playing with others. CP: You play autoharp in some indie folk bands, Corinna Rose and Heirloom. How do fans and show-goers respond to the autoharp?

[caption id="attachment_13846" align="aligncenter" width="600"] The class display at Show and Tell (2013)[/caption] If you are looking for a unique class at the Folk School that incorporates visual art, mixed media, and performance into a week of puppet fun, check out David Stephens' class Hand-and-Rod Puppet Construction (April 10-16, 2016). When David teaches his class, an infectious feeling of whimsy, fun, and joyful energy permeates the campus. David has been a puppeteer and puppet maker for over 20 years and is founder of All Hands Productions in Atlanta, GA. I sat down with David during his last class here at the Folk School to find out a little more about the magic of puppetry. [caption id="attachment_13855" align="alignright" width="249"] David with his new alien creation[/caption] CP: Is the person who creates the puppet usually the puppeteer? DS: Some people are just builders, and some people are just performers. I do both and I feel like I am a more informed builder, because I am a performer, and vice versa. Understanding the mechanics of how the puppet is made makes me a better performer. Thinking like a performer makes me a better builder, because I know what I want the puppet to be able to do. It can be a symbiotic relationship. I like the visual art aspect just as much as the performance part. Making a puppet from scratch is very gratifying. You take this idea in your head and realize it in three dimensions, which is pretty cool. CP: Describe what a week is like in your Hand-and-Puppet Construction class. DS:  For the first few days, everybody is making the same basic form. By the end of the week, students are creating their own characters, using their imaginations to come up with different facial feature combinations. The personalities of the puppets start to come out later in the week. You see this extreme change in the room from things that look very much the same, to very distinct looking characters. The difference between the puppets that I make and the puppets that these students make is about 20 years of experience. We are all working with the same basic pattern. Experience is the only difference; otherwise we are making the puppets from exactly the same patterns and materials.

[caption id="attachment_13664" align="aligncenter" width="472"]Gandy_Tulips_Close_Up_1_medium2 Tulip detail on knitted sock by Charles Gandy[/caption] [caption id="attachment_13659" align="alignright" width="243"]Gandy_CP5_8587 Charles holding his tulip-themed sock outside the Wet Room[/caption] You can envision Charles Gandy's sculptural socks warming cold winter feet, or you could imagine seeing his socks in a fine art gallery. He has a show coming up at The Bascom Art Center in Highlands (see below for details) that explores this very topic. He is a TKGA Master Knitter and is a renowned designer with a published book focusing on his creative sock designs: The Embellished Sock: Knitted Art for the Foot. We are lucky to have Charles teach regularly at the Folk School. I sat down with him in the Wet Room Studio during his last class where students were working on fantastic knitted pieces like vegetable gardens, jonquils, and Pop Art-esque Campbell’s soup cans. Let’s find out a little bit more about Charles Gandy.

[caption id="attachment_13548" align="aligncenter" width="600"]A rare book in need of restoration A rare book in need of restoration[/caption] [caption id="attachment_13546" align="alignright" width="212"]Gian Frontini teaching in Lower Keith House Studio Gian Frontini teaching in Lower Keith House Studio[/caption] Gian Frontini has taught book making and restoration at the Folk School for many years. He runs a small bindery in Amherst Island, Ontario, and concentrates on restoration and conservation of early leather and vellum bindings. I talked Gian about his upcoming class: Book Restoration Clinic, about book making, the Folk School, and more. Enjoy our interview! CP: Tell me about yourself. Where are you from, and what originally brought you to Brasstown? GF: I live on an island in Lake Ontario with my wife Pat, who is professional potter and weaver. Amherst Island is a wonderful and peaceful place, ideal to lose yourself in your craft. My wife is English and I am Italian. We both came to Canada 50 years ago. I was employed in an international company and Canada is the place we loved the most of everywhere I worked all over the world. Brasstown came into our life when Pat met Martha Owen in 1999 at a spinners' conference. The next year we came to the school, and since then it has become a bigger, and bigger part of our life. [caption id="attachment_13544" align="alignright" width="272"]GIan's South Shore Bindery on Amherst Island Gian's South Shore Bindery on Amherst Island[/caption] CP: I know you have a cabin very close to the Folk School. Do you spend some of the year here? GF: We spend three months of the year here, usually in the fall and spring. The summers are too lovely on Amherst Island and I love the fierce frozen wastes of the Northern winters. It is incredible that we have the choice of such lovely places. CP: Why do you like teaching at the Folk School? GF: The Folk School is an unique sharing experience for both teachers and students. It is rare to find a place where you can freely exchange ideas and knowledge. I love teaching at the Folk School because I learn from the students and make so many good friends.

[caption id="attachment_13351" align="aligncenter" width="600"]18628727694_a75943d359_k The Olive Dame family gather for a quick photo in front of Keith House. Kids, standing left to right: Calder LaFollette Huck, Otis Cary, Maxwell LaFollette Huck. Second row, left to right Toby Sackton (married to Marcia), Elisabeth Sackton (married to Liz Coolidge), Liz Coolidge, Tavia LaFollette, Donick Cary, Amadi Cary, Richard Cary. Back row, left to right: Jan Davidson, Marcia Butman, Kim Huffman Cary, Kim Huffman, Josh Wipf (behind Kim), Jeanne Huffman, Lorin Cary.[/caption] Members of Folk School founder Olive Dame Campbell's family gathered here during a recent weekend in June (12-14) for a mini-family reunion and a chance to experience the Folk School. While some members took classes in Photography, Spinning, and Gardening, others spent time on campus, browsing the school’s archives, visiting and meeting with Folk School staff and community members. I recently caught up with Marcia Butman (Olive was Marcia's Great Aunt) and Tavia LaFollette Zabriske (Olive was her Great Great Aunt) to ask them about their thoughts about the Folk School and to learn more about their family’s connection to Olive. KG: Tell us why you decided to gather your family here for a mini-reunion at the Folk School. MB: I had been reading Olive’s diary and sending it out on a daily basis to a large group of extended family, calling it “Dame A Day.” I sent out the year of Olive’s baby Jane’s life, from April 1912 through January 1913. I think this really involved our family in Olive’s life, and we began talking about holding a reunion at the school. Toby and I visited the school twice in the past ten years and I also visited with my daughter for the day when we were at The Great Smokies. We also hosted Jan and Nanette in Nantucket when they came to do a talk and concert. Our relationship to them made me feel it would be possible to arrange a family visit. Jan and Nanette are such special and wonderful welcoming people, they were very positive and enthusiastic about the idea of a reunion and I knew they would help us arrange a reunion. And they did so much to make the weekend great. However, it seemed very difficult to come up with a date. Then Lorin Cary, whose brother, Richard lives in Asheville, said he was planning to visit on Richard June 12, after his grandson’s graduation from High School in Toledo, and both of them were going to go visit the school. Once one person said they were definitely coming, it all fell into place. (Olive was also Great Aunt to both Lorin and Richard. They are the sons of Olive's niece June and Harry Cary, who lived and worked at the Folk School from 1938-41). TLZ: I have grown up with stories and artifacts. This was an opportunity to learn and share with family, first hand, in a place that has captured and treasures cultural heritage. What a unique opportunity!

[caption id="attachment_13338" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Kathy Hays displays her eco print creations outside the Wet Room. Kathy Hays displays her eco print creations outside the Wet Room.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_13334" align="alignright" width="234"]Class projects Class projects[/caption] I stopped by the Wet Room to visit Kathy Hays' recent class "Eco Printing Meets Felt Making" to see what they were creating. I talked to Kathy about her craft and the joys of eco printing. Enjoy our interview! CP: Tell me about where you're from, what you do there, and about your craft. KH: I’m from Florida, an unusual area for felt making due to the climate. I began making felt here at the Folk School in 1999. After struggling and trying to figure how to make felt on my own, I was able to come here and after the first day, it was like all my questions were answered! The rest of the week was purely a bonus. CP: How is Nuno Felting different from other felting? KH: Felt making is wool fibers being arranged and then adding soap, water, and agitation. In the case of Nuno Felting, you are merging fibers through another fabric. The term is a little ambiguous. That fabric can be cotton, linen... anything that is thin enough for it to come through. It creates a unique texture when it does that.