Wow, I just spent a week teaching “Pysanky for All” at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina, and I declare to one and all…this is my happy place.
For those who are not familiar with the Folk School, think of summer camp…only year around…for adults…filled with folk art classes…on 300 beautiful acres of gently rolling hills and woodlands…with other like-minded life-long learners. That should give you the beginnings of an idea of this place.
Years ago my sister and I attended an artisan bread-baking class there. In spite of the misty cold January weather, we had a blast baking all week long. With our fellow students we started with basic breads and then experimented with sourdoughs, crusty ciabattas and even got to bake in the wood-fired hearth oven right there in the kitchen. The communal meal-times offered lots of opportunity to meet fellow students and instructors from around the country. I fell in love with this whole concept of non-competitive, cooperative learning based on the Danish “folkhojskole” or folk high school and I knew I wanted to come back someday and teach.
It took me a few years to gain enough experience teaching and then a few more years to work up the courage to apply, but I was delighted to teach for the first time in June 2016. And even more delighted when they asked me back for this year’s class and scheduled me for October 7-13, 2018.
This year’s class of eight students exceeded my expectations greatly. On Monday morning we worked our way through an introductory egg to learn the basics. Step-by-step through the next few days they gained skills and confidence so that by the end of the week they were designing and completing their own masterpieces. We bonded as a group quickly and constantly helped each other by calling out, “Did you plug your egg?” as one or more students headed for the dye table. “Show and tell,” was followed by oohs and aahs as the finished eggs made their way around the class.
Saturday and the end of our stay came too quickly, but with the hope of a return trip next year, we parted as long-time friends instead of students and teacher. That’s a really good feeling in my book.
Wow! The new catalog of classes for the John C. Campbell Folk School just came out a couple of weeks ago and my “Pysanky For All” class August 20-26, 2017, is nearly full. This is such thrilling news for me because it means I get to go back to that lovely spot in North Carolina and “play eggs” for a whole week with students of all skill levels.
I love teaching beginners. My favorite part is watching their faces as they remove the wax from their very first egg and see the colorful results. And I love seeing their excitement as they progress through the week, improving in skill and beginning to come up with design ideas on their own.
I also love teaching those already experienced with this wax and dye process. Helping them stretch their artistic muscles as they work with new colors, or techniques, or styles is great fun for me. I learn almost as much as they do as we work through the week together.
Here is a photo of the work my class did for the big “Show and Tell” celebration at the end of the week. Didn’t they do a great job? I feel like a proud parent!