Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I met Martha Owen several years ago when I taught a weaving class at the John C Campbell Folk School. The folk school was establish in the southern Appalachian mountains just north of the Georgia border in Brasstown, North Carolina in 1925.  It was patterned after the Danish folk schools and was designed to provide an alternative to the higher-education facilities that drew young people away from the family farms.

The land around the folk school in North Carolina

These days, the folk school does mostly adult education and draws students from all over the United States.  It's educational focus is still the traditional crafts and home skills of the region along with building a sense of community among the students and staff.  Classes are held during the day with community activities available to all in the early morning and evenings. Fresh, wholesome meals are served family style in the old dining hall. It's hard not to go home a few pounds heavier.  What a magical place to visit!

Martha hanging newly dyed fleece out to dry 

At the folk school, each craft area has a 'Resident Artist' who is in charge of hiring teachers for their area of expertise, maintaining their particular studio and it's equipment as well as teaching some of the classes that are offered.  Martha is the 'Resident Artist' in charge of spinning, dyeing, knitting and feltmaking at John C Campbell.  If this weren't enough, she is also a master storyteller, banjo player, Morris dancer, member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, co-owner of a local yarn shop the Yarn Circle and a shepherd.  She charms all who meet her with her gentle spirit and sense of humor.  I'm really excited that she's coming back to the Northwest to teach.

Martha and sheep friends

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