Inaugural Letterpress Workshop at the Folk School July 09, 2017 16:35

I've just returned from an exhilarating week at the John C. Campbell Folk School after teaching the very first letterpress workshop there! I was invited to teach a book binding workshop (the Decorative Long & Link) back in January, and I was looking forward to returning in June to a brand new Book Arts building that's been in the works for over 5 years. The new building is a spacious and airy space with areas dedicated to printmaking, book arts, and papermaking. The main classroom has amazing cathedral ceiling and windows all around so that you don't miss the beautiful mountain view or the nest of little sparrows on the front porch.

The letterpress print shop is brand new and equipped with both platen and cylinder presses as well as a small etching press. Thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers, the entire space was set up just a week before the class began, and the Vandercook was moved in just 3 days before the first day of class! Needless to say, there's still work to do with organizing the space, the furnitures, type and spacing materials, etc., but the class ran smoothly, everyone had a chance to print what they wanted, and have plenty of fun while typesetting and printing.

I was so honored to be invited to teach this, the very first, class in the new building and print shop. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Folk School, it has a long and rich history starting with John C. Campbell and his wife Olive making preparations for a new school starting the in early 1900s. The school officially opened its doors in 1925 in Brasstown, NC, and still stands on the same land. In fact, I've stayed in Olive's farmhouse both times I've been there. The intentions of this school was based on the folkehojskole (folk school) in rural Denmark where John and Olive studied, where they emphasized non-competitive learning with no grades and no credits coupled with an atmosphere of community.

This kind of relaxing and joyful atmosphere plays a big role in making the Folk School such a unique place, and the kind of place where I just want to return to as much as I can. I've already agreed to teach again in 2018, and I'm planning on going this fall to enjoy it as a student. The hardest part is choosing which class to take: bread baking, beginning mandolin, making my own leather hat, whirligigs, or a wood engraving class? I wish I could take them all... 

A big thanks to the amazing Cory Podielski for many of these great photos!