I have always loved art, craft, and old timey music. In 2011, I made a big leap and relocated to Brasstown, NC to live and study at the John C. Campbell Folk School as part of the school’s Work/Study and Host programs. My interest in the intersection of contemporary art and traditional handmade craft and music is the reason why I stayed in Western North Carolina. While living in the Brasstown community for six years, I studied a wide variety of crafts taking over 50+ classes in subjects such as printmaking, book arts, blacksmithing, woodworking, pottery, music, dance, leatherwork, fiber arts, cooking, jewelry, soap making, and more. Below are my favorite current traditional crafts: printmaking, pottery, old time music and dance, and bread baking.
In college, I lived in an art collective called the Pink Mailbox House and we were all very interested in printmaking, punk rock, zines, creating multiples, and getting our message out to the world. We would stay up all night printing album covers and broadsides in the print shop at UCSB. Those were amazing days and planted the seed for a life-long love of traditional printmaking.
These days, I am interested in ways of incorporating traditional printmaking into my graphic design and artistic flow. I love making posters, playing with type, wood carving and wood engraving.
I learned to throw pottery from Rob Withrow who runs Smoke in the Mountain Pottery Studio. He taught me about clay, throwing, and firing and I work out of his studio. Rob has a big Noborigama-style wood kiln on his property and he fires it about 4 times a year. The chambers hold about 700 pots. Every firing is a community event. We all take shifts to stoke the fire with dry wood by hand every 2-3 minutes for about 30 hours straight! The goal is to get to about 2350 degrees or Cone 12/13. Many of my jugs are either wood fired this way or fired in a gas kiln.
Old Time Square Dance & Banjo
So I have a confession.. I love square dancing. So much that I even learned to be a square dance caller. I talk to people all the time about how square dancing is so revolutionary, and how the world desperately needs more social events that involve participation and interaction. Hesitant curiosity and the rehashing of junior high memories are the most common responses to my case, but once folks make it to a dance, they are converted.
When I design flyers for the dances we throw, I use tag lines you might see on a QVC infomercial like: “Feel great! Lose weight! Find true love! Cure depression! Make friends!” In this case, the taglines are absolutely true. Dance connects people in a simple, yet essential way. The dances we create in our community fit into a larger movement focusing on sustainability, DIY, and process. They are also an expression of joy and happiness, creating balance within the larger whole.
In Asheville, I call dances at the Habitat Brewery First Fridays square dance. Find out more info about that here on the Asheville Squaredance Society Facebook Page. Come on out!
You can’t beat fresh bread and butter in my book. I am a home baker and love making sourdough rounds in my dutch oven. I assist Emily Buehler when she teaches her week-long bread class, Bread Science. Emily’s book, Bread Science: The Chemistry and Craft of Making Bread (2006), covers the science of baking and includes step-by-step instructions for baking and pitfalls to avoid. Come join us at the Folk School and learn bread baking secrets.