Thursday, September 29, 2011

John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, North Carolina

In January, 2011 I went to the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC to teach a weeklong class in quilt design.  If you're not familiar with it, the John C. Campbell Folk School was founded in 1925 and seeks to bring people toward two kinds of development:  inner growth as creative, thoughtful individuals, and social development as tolerant, caring memebers of a community.  Located in western North Carolina in the shadow of the Appalachian Mountains, a typical week has between 13 to 15 different classes in everything from music, photography, painting, blacksmithing, writing, cooking, jewelry, wood turning, pottery, weaving, and of course, quilting!  If you've ever wanted to learn to make a kaleidoscope, weave a pine needle basket, or make soap from scratch, the JCC folk school is for you!  Check out their website at for more information on this amazing place.

View of the Appalacians from John C. Campbell Folk School

This trip was different from the first two trips I've made to the folk school because I accepted an invitation to stay at the home of Jane Oliver, along with her dear friends Emily Thompson and Donna Warfield.  In years past, I always stayed in one of the houses at the folk school.  But this year, Jane offered her beautiful mountain home, which is located just a few miles up the road from the folk school, and I accepted.  I first met Jane, Emily and Donna when they took a class from me several years earlier in Sisters, Oregon.  Since then, we've gotten to know each other at other classes, including the two previous times I taught at the folk school.  It was at Jane's home early one morning that I saw one of the most spectacular sunrises I've ever seen.  Pictures just didn't do it justice, but it was magnificent and I'll always remember it.

The quilting studio at JCC is the nicest one I've ever taught at.  It is a very large, bright room and each student gets an 8 foot table for themselves, along with a 6' x 8' design wall - great for spreading out.  Power cords hang from the ceiling, which means there are no extension cords to trip over!  There is also a quilting (and weaving) library if more inspiration is needed.  The classes are also limited to 12 students or fewer, so there is more instructor/student time....Yeah!

In my Thread Duets workshop, students created an original fiber art piece using the color theory and Divine Phi ratio I discussed.  Participants also started to think about how they intended to quilt their fiber art pieces earlier in the design process.  This really helps to create a piece where the quilting is an important, integrated part of the overall quilt.  Some of the students also made their quilts two-sided.  In all, there were some great quilts designed.

Students spent the first two days designing their quilt top.  By Wednesday, participants sandwiched their quilts and made them two sided.  We also practiced machine quilting.  On Thursday and Friday morning, students quilted their fiber art piece.  Each Friday afternoon at John C. Campbell, there is a gathering of all students and faculty at the Community Center for the Student Exhibit.  Students display a sampling of their week's work and view the creations of others.  After supper, there is a free concert to end the week.

All in all, teaching at the John C. Campbell Folk School is a spiritually rewarding time for me and the environment is a testament to the power of creation that each individual has within.  I've been invited back to teach a weeklong machine quilting/thread painting class in January, 2012 and am already looking forward to it.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, my name is Sandy, I live/work in the UK. I have just seen a patchwork quilt. It was, shall we say doing a good job at the time. The name "Emily Thompson NC" was on a patch. It was red/white/blue. Would this be the same Emily Thompson? This quilt has pretty much been all around the world. I would love to know if this is the same Emily Thompson. Unfortunately, I cannot say exactly how the quilt was being used at this time but seeing it moved me.
    Kind regards,
    Sandy in Birmingham United Kingdom