Reusing old materials in traditional crafts

This past week I had the opportunity to travel to Brasstown, North Carolina to take a class at the John Campbell Folk School. In honor of Earth Day, the Folk School led a week of classes focused on earth-friendly crafts. Some classes foraged around the school campus for discarded items to use in their projects, and other classes took old objects and made them new again. On the final evening of the week-long school, each class presented what they made; the beauty of these crafts has inspired me to look around my home for old items to transform. Take a look at some of the work created during the week.....

Lauren Kingsland and Kim Jalette taught a class focused on making quilts that incorporate old t-shirts, creating beautiful new pieces as well as a type of functional scrapbook. The students in this class were extremely committed to their projects, working beyond the usual six hours a day, often staying in the sewing studio until late hours of the night.

Before my week at the Folk School, I'd never given kaleidoscopes much thought, but the kaleidoscope-making class wound up being one of the more talked-about classes of the week. Using an imaginative array of recyclables such as pill containers, water bottles, and kid toys, the class made kaleidoscopes that were fun to look at and fascinating to look through.

Kim Joris led a mixed-media art class in which students were asked to bring in some of their old unused art works. The end result were a collection of new pieces made using students' old paintings as well as scraps from a variety of materials otherwise intended for the recycle bin.

'The Art of Re-use' was the class which proudly spoke of scavenging through trash. The art they created was inventive and dimensional with an aged patina:

My class focused on making wood jewelry. We used scraps of wood discarded by other craftspeople, such as hardwood scraps from woodturning and furniture-making. Here are some of the pieces I created:

The John Campbell Folk School operates year-round with weekend and week-long classes in traditional crafts, music, cooking, and dance, with a particular focus on arts from the surrounding Appalachian area. Work-study and scholarship opportunities are available.