So, my spring break destination this year was the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC. I took my 3rd ever class there, in basketry (the 1st one was a ceramics class on saggar firings and some raku; the 2nd class was the hot glass gateway class which totally, totally left an impression on me. And my wallet.)
We made baskets from kudzu vine, which was awesome. The vines we harvested were thick, long, heavy and unwielding. My arms and shoulders ached after an hour of wrestling 10 foot vines into under-over patterns. But it felt great to finally be doing something productive with that great invasive species (I'll admit to trying to smoke it back in the day, with neighborhood friends, in a desperate attempt to do something unholy after school; baskets are a much better idea).
My teacher, Regina Hines, is a kind person who really knows her stuff, yet has a very laid back way of instructing. She gave us a lot of freedom and I was able to complete a basket every class day, so five in all. There were only five of us in the class (four of whom were not insecure snobby ladies from Manhattan, but that's all that needs to be said here, really) and I loved being back at the school, eating in the dining hall, running on the trails, and hanging out on the Keith House porch. Tentative plans (are they ever anything but in this business?) have been laid yet again for my host dates. At some point in the next few years, I will spend 6 months living and working there. At some point. Time will tell.
I had a bit of a new experience this time since I wrote a research paper for my Masters last semester on the history of the folk art revival in the Southern Appalachians, with a particular focus on the Folk School, since it has such a well documented trail of, um, documents available for perusal. I got to really cozy up with a lot of the artifacts I studied (transcripts of conversations, photographs, drawn and written plans, etc) and it felt like I knew a lot more about the school as well as that specific part of Appalachian history. Anyone going to the Folk School should definitely go hand out in the History building, where all of the documents are superbly displayed.
So yeah: friends were made, connections were rekindled, music was played, baskets were woven, and a whole poo-load of stitches were stitched. More on spring break knitting in the next entry...