Craft Arts Education Lifestyle

New Courses, New Tradition at Brasstown’s John C. Campbell Folk School

Online enrollment for 2024 at John C. Campbell Folk School, in Brasstown, opens Tuesday, July 18. Hundreds of weekend and week-long classes are offered for adults in subjects including craft, art, music, dance, cooking, gardening, nature studies, photography and writing. In addition to the typical course offerings, Roots of the Folk School week will return from Sunday, March 3, through Saturday, March 9, after an enormously successful inaugural year in 2023.

“Many of our regulars said it felt like a warm homecoming, and new students said it was a great opportunity to fast-track their understanding of the Folk School and what makes our educational model unique,” says the school’s programs director Darcy Holdorf.

Roots of the Folk School week was designed by staff members to celebrate the school’s unique past and culture. Long-time instructors who are legendary in their field teach classes steeped in story and historical lore. Students learn to make handmade items long associated with the Folk School, like Brasstown carvings, baskets and metalwork. Participants eat meals straight out of The Folk School Cookbook, sing songs from The Folk School Songbook and dance to historic tunes.

“I love having the opportunity to showcase The Folk School Cookbook and share the stories of the instructors, dining hall staff, gardeners and community members who influenced the foodways of the school,” says the book’s author and long-time Folk School instructor Nanette Davidson. “I especially enjoy the fact that students come into class as strangers but leave as friends united in the love of cooking for one another.”

Davidson describes her curriculum for the week as a series of mini-workshops that dive into dozens of cooking and baking techniques. Students make soups, breads, pies and vegetarian entrées as well as those featuring local meat and trout. A day is also spent learning to can jams and chutneys.

In Baskets of the Folk School, instructor Pattie Bagley teaches students to weave baskets based on the many designs she has completed for use and decoration at the school. Though the class is oriented toward beginners, intermediate and advanced students can enjoy it by incorporating more complicated designs into their pieces.

In Dana Bolyard’s quilting class, students recreate in fabric the Flying Swallows quilt design that hangs outside the Louise Pitman Fiber Art Studio. Students will celebrate the historic and contemporary aspects of their craft as they make a pattern that dates back to the 1800s using modern tools and construction methods.

“Teaching at the Folk School is as much about learning as it is about teaching because the atmosphere and approach are very much encouraging, collaborative and non-competitive,” says Bolyard. “Roots of the Folk School week is really a celebration of the history, culture and people that keep the school rooted in its founding spirit and mission.”

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