It may be higher learning but this folk school is seated in the soul
John C. Campbell Folk school at Brasstown may be the only place on earth where you can jump into a course called “Hand-planed bamboo fly rod” and follow up with “Hammering a tune on the hammered dulcimer.” Founded in 1925, the basic curricula of making things that matter as much to the heart as to anything else hasn’t really changed all that much.
John and Olive Dame Campbell had come to the mountains of the South in 1908, as humanitarians, to study the region, collect ballads and contemporary handcrafts. After John died in 1919, Olive and her friend Marguerite Butler voyaged to Europe to look at Danish “schools for life.” They returned wanting to offer the same kind of “learning and living” opportunity in the Appalachian Mountains.
Today, true to its original zeitgeist, Campbell School offers weekend or week-long classes in traditional and present-day arts and crafts, cooking, gardening and nature studies. There’s also a generous helping of song, dance and wonderful vittles, if you’re so inclined–basically enough community and headlong fun to fill several crates of memories.
Viewing Doris Ulmann’s photographs from the early 1930s and works from the school’s folklore archives make the trip to Brasstown well worth the time, even if you decide to postpone sculpting a tear-drop fiddle til next year.
A destination unto itself, the Craft Shop at the Folk School offers carvings from the renowned Brasstown Carvers and a wide variety of craft items for sale from over 300 regional and national artists. Visitors are also welcome to stop by the school’s craft studios and its History Center, which features exhibits on twentieth century Appalachian culture.
The campus features a variety of easy nature trails, including the Rivercane Walk, a quarter-mile creekside loop trail with sculptures from area artists honoring the local Cherokee heritage. Visitors are welcome to explore the grounds during daylight hours, check out the Craft Shop, peek in at the classes in session, and stroll the nature trails.
Find out about the great plethora of Campbell classes taught by celebrated masters by visiting www.folkschool.org