John C Campbell; A Week of Heaven in the Mountains
This July I spent a week teaching at the magical John C Campbell Folk School. Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, it’s a creative hotspot for everyone who attends.
People come to John C Campbell from all over the world, to learn a plethora of craft skills. While I was there, people were turning wood into pens and bowls, creating mixed metal jewelry, playing ukulele and steel drums, blacksmithing, quilting and next door to my studio, making cheese!! I was teaching an inspiring group of spinners- taking them on a journey from dyeing their own fiber through designing and spinning a multi level concept yarn.
We started with a day of dyeing top and fleece. Everyone was given white fiber and had their choices of dye. I shared my techniques for intuitive dying, and then let everyone run wild with their fiber. There were bold saturated colors and soft pastels. Everyone took the challenge of creating their own palette and created rainbows>
We spent the next day elbow deep in fiber, preparing it ALLTHEWAYS! We used drum carders, hackles and blending boards to create carded and combed fiber for spinning the rest of the week. A couple were even inspired to go back to their cabin and felt up the landscapes they made on the blending board!!
The last couple days were spent spinning. First we worked on creative techniques that would tell stories. Then we moved on to choosing inspirations and designing. We raided the jewelry studio for stones and crystals to spin into our yarns. There were yarns inspired by the NYC garment district, peacocks, gardens, a journey of lost (and found) keys, and beautiful peacocks.
One student was totally inspired by her surroundings. She found an incredibly textured branch and decided to weave onto it. She spun yarns that looked like flowers and dewdrops. She collected lichen and moss to add to her weaving. When she ws done, it had completely captured the magic that was all around us.
Much of the day was spent in our studio, but when we weren’t there was lots going on around campus. Meals were eaten together, the food was amazing. Produce was all from the garden, picked earlier that day. Each afternoon and evening there were programs and demonstrations, a sing along and even a square dance! I spent time walking the trails, watching the sunsets and even got a bit of spinning time in the gazebo outside my studio.
When it came time to end the week, everyone gathered in the community room to share what they had learned and created. It was a wonderful program- each class had a table to show their creations- and we got to eat the cheese!! It was such a special way to end an amazing time!!
Once everyone had packed and the studio was clean I turned in my keys and took one more walk around- gathering sticks for weaving and soaking in the energy one more time. I came home inspired and energized,and I can’t wait to return. Until then I have my sticks and my new friends!