Sunday, October 11, 2009

a week at John C Campbell Folk School

I've been home a week now and I've been romising to share my experience at "camp". I took a good many photos but sad to say I didn't get a lot of great ones. Believe it or not, almost every minute was spent either in the studio, eating, or sleeping. It wasn't really until the last day, after the week session was completed, that I went out just to take pictures. Which is fine I suppose – I was there to learn metalsmithing. I couldn't be happier with the way things went the entire week.

Instead of showing up a lot of photos, one after the other, I decided to consolidate and create mosaics out them. First to show you the school and then the work in my class and finally what other folks where learning that same week.
The school is located in Brasstown, NC and sits in a valley surrounded by mountains. The leaves had not changed just yet but I can imagine when they do it is magnificent to see. Even so it was breathtaking and peaceful.
My days started out with a early morning walk with a few that got up early and then what they call "morning song". A sweet little old lady tells stories, plays the dulcimer and sings – a wonderful way to start the day. The breakfast bell rings at 8:15 and all the students gather at the dining hall, entering together and finding a chair, no one sits until the hostess selects a song/praise/blessing from the song sheet and we bless the food and the day ahead. The tables seat 8 and we eat family style, passing food and chatting about this and that, but mostly about what everyone is learning and making. No one a stranger. I have to say I surprised myself. Being a shy person I was a little anxious about mealtime but it was easy and comfortable. So many friendly people all around, all with creative minds and sharing hearts. Once everyone finished their meal (no one ever left before the others where finished eating) one or two people would clear the table and bring back the dessert (well not at breakfast) and gradually people started to leave wishing the others a pleasant day.

My studio class had 7 other women from all parts of the U.S., most of them in their 50s (in fact I would say that mid 50s was the average age if not a little older). I didn't run across anyone else that was from Georgia, for some reason it seemed many where from Michigan and there abouts.
The instructor was very good and I learned a lot of things from her that I had not from my local class and a lot of things just differently. I think you can always learn something different from every teacher no matter how many classes you take. Every one does things slightly different - no one way necessarily better than the other.
Before you know it the lunch bell is ringing. There was a little time between lunch and getting back to class so I would usually go to a favorite spot I found in the herb garden and just sit, share some photos via iphone and talk to Taylor. It was very peaceful there even with the tractors readying the fields for the big festival that was coming up. The hay smelled so sweet as they cut and baled it.
Class again from 1:30 until about 5:30, then time for a little break before dinner. The meals were great and there was always fresh bread and yummy desserts. I heard talk from the folks in felting class that they were right next to the cooking class and the smell of fresh bread was intoxicating. Many days they got samples. I think I want to take that class next time. (not for the bread... I really would like to learn felting).
We worked even after dinner. From 7:30 until 9:30 or so and by that time you were pretty much ready to go to bed. But they had square dancing or singing or story telling.

"Show and Tell" was Friday at noon, so Thursday night the instructor stayed in the studio until 10:30 so that we could finish all of our projects. I was so happy to complete 2 rings, a pendant and a linked bracelet. "Show and tell" was interesting. There we displayed our weeks worth of work and could walk around and see what everyone else had completed in their classes while we stayed so busy in ours. It was amazing to see the amount of beautiful and talented work that came out of each class.
Every week at JCCFS has a different set of about 12 classes. The week I was there people learned felting, basketry, wildlife sculpture with clay, quilting, wood turning, blacksmithing, story writing, watercolor painting, wood sculpture, and how to play the dulcimer, plus jewlery metalsmithing. There is something for everyone – it's just a matter of the deciding. I would love to go back each year and learn something different.

Oh how I wish I had the words and story-telling ability to make it the beautiful story that it was. To make it so appealing that you would want to go yourself. It's a wonderful experience. So wonderful that most of the folks I met have been here several times if not once a year.

I may write more later but it's late.