Folk School Adventure – Part 1

I’m still glowing from my week-long experience at the John C. Campbell Folk School. There were 8 students in my Introduction to ArtClay Silver class and about 150 students on campus. In addition to the students, there were about 45 guys working on the timber framing of a new blacksmithing barn. I wasn’t familiar with timber framing, but I learned that it’s a process where a building is framed with massive timbers and NO NAILS. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished building on my next visit to the school. Having the timber framers on campus added even more excitement and fun to the energy of the place.
ArtClay Silver Class

The people I met at the Folk School were amazing! I made a point of eating each meal with a different group of people, so I managed to meet nearly every student, instructor and timber framer by the end of the week. Many of them started calling out “Mango Lady” when they ran into me. I’ve never experienced a place with more creative, interesting, friendly and down-to-earth people all gathered together. It’s a sure bet that my path will cross with some of these folks in the future.

I was excited to be spending the week in the school’s campground. For the first 4 days I was cozy and happy in my tent. On Wednesday night it started to storm. The rain was quite noisy and kept me awake, but the tent held well and all was dry throughout the night. Thursday morning we watched from our classroom studio as the rain came down in sheets. I honestly didn’t think it could rain any harder, but during lunch it did just that and I was starting to get nervous.

I explained to my tablemates that I needed to be excused to slosh up to the campground and check on the status of my nylon home. At that moment, the young woman across from me invited me to move into the empty bed in her room. Jenna had known me less than 20 minutes and she was making this generous offer! My visit to tent-land revealed that the water had rushed down the nearby hill so fast that it didn’t soak into the mulch tent pad as intended, but rather washed up the wall of my tent and managed to slide in between my tent floor and the plastic below. The result was several deep puddles in the floor of the tent, including one right where my suitcase sat.
I quickly gathered everything out of the tent, spread out the wet clothes throughout my car and was back in class on time with a smile on my face. I just couldn’t get over my good fortune to have a dry bed and a new friend!

Another highlight of the week included my first experience with Contra Dancing, which is similar to square dancing. I didn’t know what to expect, and I had no idea what I was doing, but lots of locals participated in the dance and they were very patient and helpful. I quickly figured out how to translate the caller’s instructions and get my feet moving in right direction – most of the time. I was grinning from ear to ear, dripping with sweat and out of breath for the entire hour of dancing. I was on a natural high from this experience for hours!

I’ve posted a few other photos of the campus and people I met at the Folk School in a Flickr Set

My next post will focus on the class, techniques I learned and some photos of the pieces I created.

June 15, 2009

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