Yesterday John and I drove from our gig in Blairsville Georgia (up near the beginning of the Appalachian Trail in the mountains) to Decatur, where we have a few days off to explore the Atlanta area. On our way here, we took a side trip to a most interesting school in the mountains: the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC.
We strolled through wooded grounds, an area of about 2 city blocks, from building to building, where there were woodworking, jewelry, clay, enameling, fiber arts, and cooking studios, a blacksmith shop and outdoor kilns. There were vegetable gardens, a history centre and a craft shop, as well as cabins where people can stay during their week-long retreats.
There were classes going on in every building. Not huge classes. In fact, the guitar class with Steve Kilby only had 4 students when we went by. But it was wonderful to see the facility, and I’m sure there are times when the classes are completely full. They have the capacity for lots of students.
There are so many looms in the weaving studio! And, of course, there’s a Barn Quilt on the side of the Fiber Arts Building.
I have been told about this place before – friends from Florida showed me the annual brochure years ago, but we’ve never been in the area to stop by before. The facility is so impressive.
We stopped into the quilt studio (of course!) and met Jackie Cory and her class there.
It’s a light and airy studio, very flexible for any number of students. All the sewing machines and tools are provided, which means nobody has to fly there with their prized Bernina as carry-on! Jackie was teaching a week-long class in colour value, and there were lots of quilts and quilts-in-progress all over the room. It seemed like a really relaxed time, and everyone was happy. I sang a song for them as they worked. It was fun.
I’m so impressed with this facility, and I’d love to teach there – Jackie told me that there’s a 2-year waiting list for teachers, and she got in because there was a cancellation due to surgery with one of the other teachers. So it’s pretty unlikely that I’ll ever go. But I can dream…..
What this says to me is that there are others out there like me and you: people I call MAKERS. Makers are the painters, potters, brewers, woodworkers, chefs, canners, hookers, knitters, builders, inventors and vintners. They create something out of nothing, and they are very “hot” right now.
When we were in England, I was impressed to see people still thatching roofs. I came to believe that everything that anyone ever did there (including tapestry making, window-leading, glass blowing and strange ancient house building techniques) IS STILL BEING DONE THERE. By somebody.
I believe the act of making something tangible from an idea in your mind through your fingers into reality is central to being human. All those shop and home ec classes in school prepared us for a lifetime of creation. I’ll include songwriting and playing an instrument in there, too, although you can’t touch the performance or wrap yourself in it when you’re done (but it is central to MY work).
I think it’s what gives my life meaning. I have been a Maker forever, without recognizing it, nor valuing it until recent years. It is not highly thought of in the corporate world. Regardless, there is nothing more calming than entering “the zone” and losing track of time while concentrating on making something. At the end of it, you can look and touch what wasn’t there before. And know that you made it.
I’ll never forget the time I sat at my kitchen table with my first successful loaf of bread that I made from scratch. I ate it with my homemade marmalade. I felt like a queen.
So, whenever you might think: “I’m just not creative”, give yourself a shake. Go make a meal, quilt some potholders or knit yourself a dish cloth. Buy a wine kit. Put together a bird house. Plant some flowers in your garden.
What will you make today?