Alabama Folk School Offers Local Resident Discount

Banjo From Scratch students perform with instructor, Jim Holland, at the student showcase. 

Banjo From Scratch students perform with instructor, Jim Holland, at the student showcase. 

As part of the Alabama Folk School's 10 Year Anniversary in 2017, limited-time discounts will be available for full-time residents of the following three surrounding Alabama counties: Winston, Walker, and Cullman.

According to Lisa Marie Ryder, Director of The Alabama Folk School at Camp McDowell, “The Alabama Folk School at Camp McDowell is a culturally rich resource located in the heart of Walker and Winston counties. Our goal is that all our neighbors will know about and experience the first-rate educational opportunities in folk art and music located right in their backyard.”

Details of the Local Resident Discount:

·       The discount is 50% off tuition. Food, lodging, and materials costs may apply.

·       The discount program is offered on a first come, first served, standby basis as space allows. 

·       Full price may be paid at any time to confirm a spot in the class.

·       The discount may only be available for certain workshops. 

Local residents interested in utilizing the discount should call 205.387.1806 ext. 111 to register. 

Registration is now open for upcoming classes at www.alfolkschool.com. Classes include banjo, butcher block cutting boards, guitar, mandolin, plein air painting, wooden boat building, blacksmithing, traditional food preservation, songwriting, ukulele, and more.

Blacksmithing in the Springtime, Blacksmithing in the Fall

The Alabama Folk School is excited to announce a reprisal of February’s über-successful Blacksmithing From Scratch course. This March 17-19, Brady Jackson’s course will cover the basics of blacksmithing, and students will make a variety of items over the weekend. This workshop—or a similar course taken elsewhere—will be a prerequisite for our newly announced Intermediate Blacksmithing courses offered this fall, September 15-17 and again November 3-5.  Don’t miss your chance; reserve your spot at: bit.ly/IntroBlacksmithing2017

See our most up to date workshop calendar below:

Visit www.alfolkschool.com for more information and book your Folk School experience.

Young Professionals Experience Arts Administration at The Alabama Folk School

by Lisa Marie Ryder, Director of The Alabama Folk School

The Alabama Folk School at Camp McDowell started a new internship program designed to introduce young professionals to arts administration within a non-profit camp and conference center work environment. Interns at the Alabama Folk School acquire valuable professional skills during their service period and make contact with potential future employers within and outside of the arts community.

The 2017 intern is Robert A.W. Dunn. Rob graduated from Emory University in May 2016 with a Bachelor of Art in History and minor in Music. He worked for Emory's Center for Digital Scholarship where he digitized sound recordings and scanned books, pamphlets, etc. for historic preservation. Rob has prior experience with concert production, as well as event promotion and graphic design. He is a sacred harp singer and is eager to participate in Camp Fasola at Camp McDowell and shape note singing in Walker County.

The 2017 internship program has been made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Walker Area Community Foundation.

Give the Gift of Folk Art & Music Education

by Lisa Marie Ryder, Director of The Alabama Folk School

Give the gift of folk art and music education to someone you love this holiday season. Gift certificates are available for students to enjoy programming in the 10th anniversary year of the Alabama Folk School. Purchase here!

2017 workshops include banjo, birding, blacksmithing, butcher block cutting boards, canning and food preservation, drawing, fiber arts sampler retreat, fiddle, Gee’s Bend Quilting, guitar, The Gumbo Academy, harmonica, harmony singing, lap dulcimer, mosaics in Alabama stone, plen aire landscape painting, songwriting with Tom Kimmel and Sally Barris, ukulelewooden boat building, and more!

Get Ready for 2017!

by Lisa Marie Ryder, Director of The Alabama Folk School

Alabama Folk School Instructor, Dorothy Dixon, teaches oil painting. 

Alabama Folk School Instructor, Dorothy Dixon, teaches oil painting. 

Next year—2017—marks the ten-year anniversary of the Alabama Folk School. We will celebrate the milestone in style with 3-day, 4-day, and week-long programs in folk art and music. Special programs include birding, blacksmithing, wooden boat building, cooking, drawing and painting, fiber arts, homesteading, music, and songwriting.

Join us next year in celebrating #10YearsOfFolk. Registration is already open for many classes and others will open in the coming months.

SAVE THE DATE! The Alabama Folk School will be in session:

·       February 17-19 (From Scratch)
·       March 17-19
·       April 17-20 (Bluegrass & Gee’s Bend)
·       May 15-19
·       June 26-29 (Youth Folk Camp)
·       August 3-6 (Wooden Boat Building)
·       September 15-17
·       October 12-15 (Old Time)
·       October 22-27
·       November 2-5

View the full list of workshops, classes, and special events here

A Buzz of Excitement

by Lisa Marie Ryder, Director of The Alabama Folk School

There’s a palpable buzz of excitement at The Alabama Folk School. What this means is that classes are selling out, and they’re selling out quickly! Don’t miss your opportunity to explore one of these subject areas this fall:

Homemade soap, sugar scrub, and lip balm are just of few of the natural skincare products students will make in Laura Spencer's, November 3-6, 2016 class.

Homemade soap, sugar scrub, and lip balm are just of few of the natural skincare products students will make in Laura Spencer's, November 3-6, 2016 class.

·       Basket Making

·       Butcher Block Cutting Boards

·       Chair Caning

·       DIY Natural Soaps & Skincare

·       Flatfoot Dancing

·       Fused Glass & Mosaics

·       Gee’s Bend Quilting

·       Mixed Media Painting

·       Oil Painting

·       Watercolor Painting

Many classes are specifically planned with gift giving in mind. You’ll come home with a number of items to keep or share during the holiday season. Spaces are still available in select classes this fall:

·       Old Time Music & Crafts, October 13-16

·       Watercolor & Painting, October 23-28

·       Traditional Arts & Crafts, November 3-6

Learn more and register by clicking on the workshop links above.

Unconventional Back To School Supplies

by Lisa Marie Ryder, Director of The Alabama Folk School

Students in Linda Munoz's Mosaics and Fused Glass class. 

Students in Linda Munoz's Mosaics and Fused Glass class. 

This fall, children and youth are loading up their backpacks with pencils, erasers, notepads, and other school supplies. Their grown-ups are helping supply them with the tools they’ll need for a productive and successful school year. Meanwhile, we are collecting supply lists from Alabama Folk School instructors and disseminating them to students. Some of the items you might need for a workshop at the Alabama Folk School this fall include:

·       Acrylic and watercolor paints

·       Bobbins

·       Chair or stool in need of a bottom

·       Guitar

·       Hard-soled, leather shoes

·       Molding paste

·       Music stand

·       Rotary cutter

·       Sewing Machine

·       Shaving cream

·       Sketch board

·       Sturdy shears

Beginning guitar instructor, Jim Ohlschmidt also suggests students come with “a good attitude and willingness to learn.”

So join us this fall, for an opportunity to pack your bag with some unconventional school supplies and work creatively with your hands, mind, and spirit:

·       Acoustic Guitar & Crafts, September 9-11

·       Old Time Music & Crafts, October 13-16

·       Watercolor & Painting, October 23-28

·       Traditional Arts & Crafts, November 3-6

Experiencing The Alabama Folk School

Written by Whitley Gregoire, Alabama Folk School Summer 2016 Intern, Eureka College Durward Sandifer Fellow

Imagine a very insecure, unconfident, unsure-about-her-career-choice senior in college. Now place her miles from home, more like several states to the south, in a place she has never heard of or been to before. That was me BEFORE I experienced the Alabama Folk School at Camp McDowell. I had the privilege to stay at Camp McDowell and shadow various people in the Alabama Folk School. A mentorship from Eureka College allowed me to stay for six weeks and gain various experiences in the areas of Music and Art specifically.

Whitley (right) demonstrates chords to a Youth Folk camper.

Whitley (right) demonstrates chords to a Youth Folk camper.

Whitley and Youth Folk campers hike to the cross.

Whitley and Youth Folk campers hike to the cross.

I first started out helping with Youth Folk Camp. Just learning how things operated, I filled in where I could and acted as a utility person when something needed to be done. I would have to say, one of my favorite things that I enjoyed was escorting the campers to their classes. Whether it was tie-dying, visiting the farm, fiddle classes, or guitar and mandolin class, there was something for everyone. I had the pleasure of working with the guitar and mandolin class. Aspiring to one day teach guitar, I watched carefully how the two instructors (Laine Poole and Jimmy Gauld) taught both the advance and beginning students. Everybody shone brightly at the concerts and presentations at the end of camp. Many friends and relationships were made in that short period of time, so it was hard to see them go.

Mary Ann Pettway teaches Whitley how to sew like, "my momma taught me." 

Mary Ann Pettway teaches Whitley how to sew like, "my momma taught me." 

Whitley visits with Herb Trottman at Fretted Instruments in Birgmingham.

Whitley visits with Herb Trottman at Fretted Instruments in Birgmingham.

One of the goals for my mentorship was to interview business owners to gain insight on how to be successful in the art and music industry. My first stop was visiting the wonderful quilters of Gee’s Bend at the Gee’s Bend Collective. Mary Ann Pettway and China Pettway are some of the best teachers I have ever met. I was taught how to hand sew, like Mary Ann’s mother taught her as a child. They may not have the biggest business, but they do have some of the richest spirits in Alabama. Come to one of their classes and ask them to sing while you sew; you’ll understand then! Another person I interviewed was Herb Trotman, a master banjoist and owner of Fretted Instruments. He taught me that the power of word of mouth can be more powerful than having a digital presence. Dori DeCamillis and Scott Bennett, owners of the Red Dot Gallery, gave me insights on being both teachers and artists themselves.

The Alabama Folk School does more than just provide classes to take. It gives you a foundation to forget your insecurities. It gives you confidence in the skills you learn in class. It forms lasting friendships that will last well after the classes end. Whether you’re just beginning or have been doing your craft for years, the Alabama Folk School has classes to fit your skill set. So what are you waiting for? Sign up already! Your adventure waits.

Sincerely,

Whitley Gregoire, A now very confident senior college student

---

The fall lineup of workshops includes:

·       Farm Folk Weekend, September 2-5

·       Acoustic Guitar & Crafts, September 9-11

·       Old Time Music & Crafts, October 13-16

·       Watercolor & Painting, October 23-28

·       Traditional Arts & Crafts, November 3-6

Independence Day Reflections

by Lisa Marie Ryder, Director of The Alabama Folk School

When I think back to the birth of our great country, I think of simpler living. Simpler, not easier! I am reminded of the inspiration behind the Alabama Folk School at Camp McDowell and how our workshops help preserve the knowledge and traditions of bygone days.

A Gee's Bend quilt in patriotic colors by Alabama Folk School instructor, Mary Ann Pettway. 

A Gee's Bend quilt in patriotic colors by Alabama Folk School instructor, Mary Ann Pettway. 

I can visualize the handknit, sewn, and woven clothes—the garments dyed with colors made from indigo, bark and berries. I can picture an early American supper table heartily set with corn, squash, beans, apples, jam, and syrup, accompanied by livestock, fresh game, or fish. There’s also cider and beer at the table. A family gathers around to enjoy time together after a hard day’s work. A pleasant evening is filled with music, song, or someone reading aloud from a book

A Gee's Bend quilt in patriotic colors by Alabama Folk School instructor, China Pettway. 

A Gee's Bend quilt in patriotic colors by Alabama Folk School instructor, China Pettway. 

During this time, Americans were originally from England, Germany, Ireland, Holland, Scotland, Sweden, and Africa. The traditions of these cultures were uniquely shaping the ways of life in America, and families took pride in passing down their skills and traditions though generations.

These folk traditions of early America not only represent our past, but are at the root of so much contemporary art and culture today.

As summer comes to a close, I invite you to join us at the Alabama Folk School where we strive to keep our early folk traditions alive by teaching those who want to learn. You can construct your own butcher block cutting board, repair your mother’s favorite caned chair, and more in the upcoming workshops:

· Acoustic Guitar & Crafts, September 9-11

· Old Time Music & Crafts, October 13-16

· Watercolor & Painting Workshop, October 23-28

· Traditional Arts & Crafts, November 3-6

Learn more and register by clicking on the workshop titles above.