Friday, October 05, 2007

John C. Campbell Folk School 2007

14 - 16 September 2007

I taught my first John C. Campell class over this weekend. I had never been to the school before, but I certainly have heard a lot of good things about the place and the experiences others have had. So I was pretty keen to go check it out for myself.

The school is in Brasstown, North Carolina. Don't blink - you might miss this town as you drive through the area.

One of the local attractions is Clay's Corner - a gas station and general store just down the road from the folk school. This is the location of the New Year's Eve Possum Drop. A weekly attraction is a bluegrass and old time music session on Friday night. This is the famed "possum pit" where the music takes place.

This is the other side of the pit. I bought a couple of tote bags and a t-shirt that says, "Possum - the other other white meat." I haven't worn it as of yet, but it will probably make an appearance at OSU sometime in the near future.

Friday afternoon of a weekend class is for faculty and student orientation. This is part of the weekend student population.

A different view. Classes running this weekend included quilting, weaving, woodturning (mine), soap making, woodcarving, woodworking (the start of a 7-day class), story telling, basketry, drawing, marbling, dance, enameling, photography, and metalworking (the end of a 7-day class).

After orientation we had dinner and then our first session in the studios. I had 10 students in my class. It's been three weeks since my class and I can't put the names and faces together for everyone who attended. I have a very hard time retaining names. I can usually remember the faces of people I've met through woodturning, but the names always seem to escape quickly.

My class was on surface enhancement techniques: pyrography and coloring. I had the students work on small boards first and then they worked on turnings they had brought with them. We did a variety of texturing techniques and I taught them how to color wood with prismacolor markers and acrylic paints.

The Friday session went until 9 pm and then I headed over to Clay's Corner with Gary Gardner. I had brought my fiddle and bodhran and I sat in with this group of regulars. The leader of the session was named "Red" and he made it very clear that he didn't like that 'Irish stuff.' There were plenty of others there that appreciated Irish tunes, though.

It was certainly and interesting experience. I have to admit that I like Irish sessions a whole lot more than this kind.

The next morning I was up bright and early and headed to the turning studio to play fiddle tunes as a warm-up to Morningsong. I played a short concert for that traditional start of the day. I was pretty nervous about playing solo fiddle since I'm the second fiddler in Aisling and don't usually play solo. I did alright, though.

Linda Karr working on painting while Gary Gardner looks on. Gary was my assistant for the weekend. He was a lot of fun to have around, and he was pretty helpful in helping me to navigate the schedule.

Most of the students had finished the sampler boards by late afternoon and started working on their own projects by Saturday night.

Barbara Hayden brought in some bamboo leaves for me to see. I had tried to sketch some from memory, but couldn't remember the details ver well.

Some inspiration on Saturday evening. No one drew bugs on their turnings, though.

Betsy Kraus was in the metalworking class and we made a connection via another student who was at the same table as me during Saturday's lunch. Betsy plays concertina and I invited her to come to the woodturning studio on Saturday night so we could play tunes after 9 pm. We didn't have a lot of tunes in common, but we managed to play music together pretty well. It was a lot of fun.

This is the Willard Baxter woodturning studio, which was just completed this past year. It's a very nice space.

I can't remember what the studio on the right was. I never did make it around to the other classes. I was pretty busy all weekend.

You can just barely see the house (on the far right) where I stayed during the weekend. It was called, "the rock house."

It was a bit foggy and drizzly on Sunday morning, but I enjoyed the lighting.

The school grows much of the food it serves. I will give many kudos to the kitchen staff. The food was fantastic - all fresh and nicely prepared.

This is Keith House - a major gathering spot and where the opening and closing ceremonies took place. It's also where the coffee is served.

There are some comfy chairs in the living room of the house and Gary certainly took advantage of them.

Sunday Morningsong was led by Clyde Hollyfield. He told stories and played mountain dulcimer.

I particularly enjoyed his version of the "hoop snake" story.

This was my class. As I've said before, I've lost the connection of names and faces. I can do the front row, but the back row escapes me. L to R front row: Gary Gardner (my assistant), James Norton, Joy Moss, Linda Karr, me, Barbara Haydon. The back row, L to R: Chuck Klemme?, Larry Sefton? Bill Briggs? John Davis? Mark Cairns, Ralph Nettles? If anyone wants to send corrections, please do so.

Sunday morning, after classes end, there's an exhibit of all the students' work. The woodturning corner was pretty busy with admirers looking over the weekend's efforts. Mark Cairns explained what we did to some of the other students.

You can see some of the projects here. I never did get a photo of the entire class' work.

The enameling class.





A fountain made as a collaboration by Betsy Kraus and Doug Wilson. This was pretty cool. They will install it in their garden with different framework. This one was just put together to test all the components and the kinetics.

Betsy and Doug

The dining hall

Keith House

The door plaque of Keith House

A view of the grounds with the mountains as a backdrop.

Turned wooden mushrooms adorn one of the gardens near the dining hall.

Now, this is cool. A living bench in the making.

Trees are being grafted together to form this living sculpture.

I'd like to come back in a few years and see the progress of this project.

One of the vegetable and flower gardens. The produce was amazing and there were fresh cut flowers to decorate the dining hall.


The woodturning studio

The woodturners' project corner



Soap making


Dancing - clogging for this weekend

One of the wall hangings in the community hall.

What a great weekend!

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