Monday, November 9, 2009

Quilting at the Folk School

What a wonderful week at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC!
The rain came and went while we were in nearby Murphy NC, and every day was exactly like the Sunday beginning of the week:
This is a true sight-for-sore-eyes from Florida!
Each day was cool & beautiful, and each evening the full moon rose from the mountains:
I just couldn't get online while I was at the Folk School (though others did just fine), so I'm sorry I couldn't share the day-by-day experience. I must admit, though, when I am teaching it's the students & studio that come first. It's much easier to find blogging time as a student!
The class was filled at 12 people, and all week I heard from others who wanted to take it but couldn't get in. They ended up learning how to weave Shaker Rag Rugs and Open Hearth Cooking (with recipes from the 1800s!) and had a good time.
The full class allowed me to have an assistant, and I was fortunate to have Cherry-Cherry in that role. She did a super job catching all the details and answering questions so everyone in the class could be constantly taken care of. She is the best!
We got to be roomies, and were assigned to The Farmhouse.
Our room was upstairs, behind the two dormer windows on the right.
This is where the first classes were held at the Folk School, and the home of Olive Campbell, one of the school's founders. It has several pieces of her furniture still in place, and is a bit like staying in a museum!
The other window must end up in the room next door. Our neighbors were Les and Gwen Gustafson-Zook, from Goshen, Indiana. He taught the autoharp class, and they both gave a fun & uplifting concert on Friday night.
Cherry-Cherry & I had these matching beds (sorry, no maid service at the Folk School!). I thought they might be original to the Farmhouse...maybe Olive Campbell or Marguarite Butler slept in them sometime!
Can't say that my contribution was very authentic...that's my really bright pillowcase. I like to have my own pillow when travelling, and that case helps me see it to remember to take it home! The quilt is the Spicy Mystery Quilt, which I taught at the 2003 SSQA Symposium. It's like a Mexican Cross pattern.

But we didn't have time to hang around the room much. It was off to the Fiber Arts building every day (after MorningSong and a breakfast worthy of Cracker Barrel!). The Quilting Studio is the door on the right. Come on in!
Spacious, light-filled & very well-equiped, I cannot think of a better place to spend a week with fabric and new friends! Each person had an eight-foot table for her own project, and there were cutting tables up at standing heigth, plus several ironing board stations. I think it is a good idea to have built-in reasons to get up and move around during your sewing time!
The building's restrooms are on this side, so the weavers came through to check out our work, as well as partake of the bowl of chocolate I had sitting on the counter by the door.

It was fun teaching the Campbell Folk School Quilt, or MorningSong, as I now call it. This time it was not a mystery quilt, and everyone jumped right in on the traditional patterns that tell the story of how the Folk School was founded, inspired by Director Jan Davidson's story.

We all started with "Fair & Square" (lower left corner in the picture below) as an easy block, and one that says how things work at the competition, lots of respect for individuals, plenty of give & take.
The amount of patchwork generated was totally amazing!
With the 9 blocks in the original quilt, plus alternates for personal choice, each student had patterns for 30 blocks. And on top of that, I found a pattern to represent all the different subjects taught, so there pictures of 48 more! To be selected, a block had to be published at some place and time with a name I could relate to the Folk School, and it had to be possible to make...not one of those un-tested drawings or blocks with 1, 000 pieces!

Some of the students (it seems funny to call them that, now that we have come to be more like friends!) had quite a bit of experience in quilting. One owns a shop in Blue Ridge, GA, Country Stitches. C-C and I stopped there on our way north, and had a lovely time in the "old pink house", including finding a much desired Moda jelly-roll for Cherry-Cherry.
Other students had less experience but that didn't hold them back! Here's the completed top for a wall hanging by a first time beginner:
Civil War reproductions were a big favorite of the class, but we also had a chance to see the same blocks done in mostly batiks, with a close-color scheme:
This ended up with the blue as a tiny inside border and went home looking for a darker outside one.
Then we also had an inspired choice of bright yellow for the background:
OOPS! I neglected to turn this the right direction....that block in the middle is really a basket, designed on the spur of the moment by the maker! I love it when that happens in my class!
More beautiful batiks by someone who travelled all the way from Washington state! Her husband came to take the Arborsculpture class with Richard Reames, since Campbell is one of the few places teaching that remarkable gardening form.

As I said, Cherry-Cherry was busy with her own sewing while still finding time to be my more-than-able assistant! Her top is a study in blue & browns:
Check out that mosaic sashing! The royal blue just glows in this piece. It's getting a border in the same style, but with larger pieces.
This one below has the blocks from the original quilt design, but a T-Shirt in the center! I suggested that if anyone wanted to use a shirt in that way, we could learn the basics of making a T-Shirt quilt...and so we did!
The plan to finish this one includes many more blocks surrounding the part done here, maintaining the special block in the center position.
The Spools pattern was a popular block, and several people were planning to make borders with that pieced design.
One person is making a 25 block quilt for a queen bed, and I am sure she will finish it!
With a place like this to work in, all meals cooked for you, and lots of inspiring & entertaining people around, you can't help but have a good time!
I always feel sorry to leave, but look forward to going a teacher OR a student!
And I'm also looking forward to seeing many of my new friends somewhere "around the Quilt Block".


Anonymous said...

What fun this sounds like. Wonderful pictures and report.

On to SSQA??


Pat said...

I envy you being able to get some cool mornings. What a great classrom and lots of room per student. Love seeing the different fabrics chosen by the quilters. Thanks for sharing the week with us, even though it couldn't be done in "real" time.