Follow us: Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Google+ Follow us on Linkedin Follow us on Tumblr Subscribe to our RSS or Atom feed
Saturday, December 16, 2017
Southern Weather Radar


Our Writers

  • Adam Peck
  • Alan Gordon
  • Alex Kearns
  • Alex Seitz-Wald
  • Alice Murray
  • Allison Korn
  • Alyssa Cagle
  • Amanda Marcotte
  • Amanda Peterson Beadle
  • Andrea Grimes
  • Andrea Lee Meyer
  • Andrew Bowen
  • Andy Brack
  • Andy Kopsa
  • Andy Miller
  • Andy Schmookler
  • Ann Marie Pace
  • Ann Woolner & Leonard Ray Teel
  • Anna Dolianitis
  • Anna Forbes and Kate Ryan
  • Annelise Thim
  • Anoni Muss
  • April Adams
  • April Moore
  • Ariel Harris
  • Armando
  • Arthur Blaustein
  • Austen Risolvato
  • Austin McMurria
  • Barry Hollander
  • Bert Roughton III
  • Beth Ostlund
  • Betsey Dahlberg
  • Bill Caton
  • Bill Hamm
  • Bill Mankin
  • Bill Montgomery
  • Bill Moyers & Michael Winship
  • Bill Phillips
  • Bill Semple
  • Bill Tush
  • Billy Howard
  • Bob Bohanan
  • Bob Pritchard
  • Booth Malone
  • Bootsie Lucas
  • Boyd Lewis
  • Brad Clayton
  • Braden Goyette For ProPublica
  • Brandon Collins
  • Brett Martin
  • Brian Randall
  • Brianna Peterson
  • Bruce Dixon
  • Bruce E. Levine
  • Burton Cox
  • Candice Dyer
  • Carl Kline
  • Carol Carter
  • Carson M. Lamb
  • Casey Hayden
  • Cathleen Hulbert
  • Center for American Progress
  • Chantille Cook
  • Charles Finn
  • Charles O. Hendrix Jr.
  • Charles Seabrook
  • Charles Walston
  • Chelsea Toledo
  • Chelsey Willis
  • Chris Bowers
  • Chris Kromm
  • Chris Wohlwend
  • Christopher Burdette
  • Chrys B. Graham
  • Chuck Collins
  • Cliff Green
  • Cody Maxwell
  • Collin Kelley
  • Craig Miller
  • Crissinda Ponder
  • Dallas Lee
  • Dan Kennedy
  • Daniel Flynn
  • Daniel K. Williams
  • Daniel Palmer
  • Danny Fulks
  • Dante Atkins
  • Darby Britto
  • Dave Cooley
  • Dave Johnson
  • Dave Pruett
  • David Bradford
  • David Evans
  • David Harris-Gershon
  • David Jenks
  • David Kyler
  • David Parker
  • David Roberts
  • David Rotenstein
  • David Swanson
  • Dean Baker
  • Deb Barshafsky
  • Debbie Houston
  • Deborah Chasteen
  • Denise Oliver Velez
  • Dennis McCarthy
  • Desiree Evans
  • Dian Cai
  • Diana
  • Diane Rooks
  • Dina Rasor
  • Dindy Yokel
  • Doc
  • Don Lively
  • Don O'Briant
  • Donnie Register
  • Door Guy
  • Doug Couch
  • Doug Cumming
  • Dr. Brian Moench
  • Dr. Dorothy Ann Boyd-Bragg
  • Dr. Nick De Bonis
  • Dr. Ravi Batra
  • E. David Ferriman
  • Earl Fisher
  • Eden Landow
  • Eileen Dight
  • Eleanor Ringel Cater
  • Elizabeth Shugg
  • Ellen Brown
  • Elliott Brack
  • Erin Kotecki Vest
  • Fatima Najiy
  • FishOutofWater
  • Francisco Silva
  • Frank Povah
  • Fred Brown
  • Frederick Palmer
  • Gadi Dechter, Michael Ettlinger
  • Gail Kiracofe
  • Gaius
  • Georgia Logothetis
  • Gib Ennis
  • Gina Williams
  • Gita M. Smith
  • Glenn Carroll
  • Glenn Overman
  • Gordon Anderson
  • Gregory C. Dixon
  • Gryphon Corpus
  • Hamp Skelton
  • Harriet Barr
  • Heather Boushey
  • Henry Dreyer
  • Henry Foresman
  • Hollis B. Ball III
  • Hugh
  • Hyde Post
  • Ian Kim
  • Ian Millhiser
  • Isabel Owen
  • Ivy Brashear
  • J.A. Myerson
  • Jack deJarnette
  • Jack Wilkinson
  • Jacklyn C. Citero
  • Jake Olzen
  • James Hataway
  • James Marc Leas
  • James N. Maples
  • Janet Ward
  • Jasmine Burnett
  • Jason Palmer
  • Jason Parker
  • Jay Thompson
  • Jaz Brisack
  • Jeff Cochran
  • Jeff Davis
  • Jeff Rayno
  • Jeff Spross
  • Jeffry Scott
  • Jennifer Hill
  • Jesse Harwell
  • Jessica Luton
  • Jim Allen
  • Jim Bentley and Jeff Nesmith
  • Jim Clark
  • Jim Cobb
  • Jim Fitzgerald
  • Jim Newell
  • Jim Stovall
  • Jim Walls
  • Jim Warren
  • Jimmy Booth
  • Jing Luo
  • Jingle Davis
  • JL Strickland
  • Joan Donovan
  • Jodi Jacobson
  • Jody Wegmueller
  • Joe Earle
  • Joe Shifalo
  • Joel Groover
  • Joey Ledford
  • John A. Tures
  • John Dembowski
  • John Hickman
  • John Hickman with Sarah Bartlett
  • John Huie
  • John M. Williams
  • John Manasso
  • John Sugg
  • John Tabellione
  • John Yow
  • Jon Sinton
  • Jonathan Grant
  • Jonathan Odell
  • Joni Hunnicutt
  • Jonna Pattillo
  • Joseph B. Atkins
  • Joseph Gatins
  • Josh Dorner
  • Josh Sewell
  • Joy Moses
  • Judith Stough
  • Judy McCarthy
  • Juli Ward
  • Julian Bond
  • Julian Riggs Smith
  • Julianne Wyrick
  • Julie Ajinkya
  • Julie Puckett Fodera
  • Just Plain Will
  • Kaili Joy Gray
  • Kate Greer
  • Kate McNally
  • Katherine A. Edmonds
  • Kathleen Brewin Lewis
  • Kathleen Harbin
  • Kathleen R. Gegan
  • Kathryn Hoffman
  • KC Wildmoon
  • Keith Graham
  • Ken Edelstein
  • Ken Haldin
  • Ken Hawkins
  • Ken Peacock
  • Kevin Austin
  • Kevin Duffy
  • Kip Burke
  • Kirk McAlpin
  • Kirsten Barr
  • Kos Moulitsas
  • Kristie Macrakis
  • Lacey Avery
  • Lamont Cranston
  • Laura Clawson
  • Laura Smith
  • Laurence Lewis
  • Lawrence S. Wittner
  • Lee Leslie
  • Lee Robin
  • Leon Galis
  • Leonce Gaiter
  • Les Eatwell
  • LikeTheDew
  • Linda Hunt Beckman
  • Linda Jordan Tucker
  • Lisa Byerley Gary
  • Lisa Kerr
  • Lois Beckett, Propublica
  • Lorraine Berry
  • Louie Crew Clay
  • Louis Mayeux
  • Lovell Jones, Ph.D.
  • Lucy Emerson Sullivan
  • Lucy Guest
  • Maggie Lee
  • Maisha White
  • Mandy Richburg Rivers
  • Margi Ness
  • Marian Wang, ProPublica
  • Marie Diamond
  • Mark Dohle
  • Mark Johnson
  • Mark Sumner
  • Martha W. Fagan
  • Mary Civille
  • Mary Elizabeth King
  • Mary Kay Andrews
  • Mary Lee
  • Mary Willis Cantrell
  • Matt Blakely
  • Matt Johnson
  • Matt Musick
  • Matt Renner
  • Matthew Wright
  • Maurice Carter
  • Meg Livergood Gerrish
  • Meghan Miller
  • Melanie Rochat
  • Melinda Ennis
  • Michael Bailey
  • Michael Beckel
  • Michael Castengera
  • Michael Ettlinger
  • Michael J. Solender
  • Michael Linden
  • Michael Lux
  • Michael W. Twitty
  • Mike ”Hunter” Lazzaro
  • Mike Copeland
  • Mike Cox
  • Mike Handley
  • Mike Lofgren
  • Mike Ludwig
  • Mike Williams
  • Mimi Skelton
  • Moni Basu
  • Monica Smith
  • Murray Browne
  • Myra Blackmon
  • Nancy Melton
  • Nancy Puckett
  • Nancy Robinson
  • Nancy Rogers
  • Neill Herring
  • Nelly McDaid
  • Nikki Gardner
  • Niles Reddick
  • Noel Holston
  • Occupy Wall Street
  • Overman & Senn
  • Pamela Sumners
  • Pat Garofalo
  • Pat LaMarche
  • Pat Norman
  • Patrick Andendall
  • Patrick L. Ledford
  • Patsy Dickey
  • Patti Ghezzi
  • Paul Buchheit
  • Paul Krupin
  • Paul Rutledge
  • Paul Thim
  • Pete & Jack
  • Peter Crawford
  • Peter Turnbull
  • Phil Gast
  • Phil Noble
  • Philecta Clarke Staton
  • Philip Graitcer
  • Phyllis Alesia Perry
  • Phyllis Gilbert
  • Piney Woods Pete
  • Polly
  • R S
  • R.L. Miller
  • Rafael Alvarez
  • Randy Conway
  • Randy Schiltz
  • Ray Bearfield
  • Raymond L. Atkins
  • Reagan Walker
  • Rebecca Sive
  • Ric Latarski
  • Richard Eisel
  • Righton C. Willis
  • Rob Chambers
  • Rob Coppock
  • Rob Douthit
  • Robert Allen
  • Robert Dardenne
  • Robert E Hunt Jr
  • Robert Jensen
  • Robert Lamb
  • Robert M. Williams, Jr.
  • Robert Mashburn
  • Robert Weiner & Richard Mann
  • Robin Marty
  • Rodney Adams
  • Roger Gregory
  • Ron Feinberg
  • Ron Taylor
  • Rose Aguilar
  • Rose Weaver
  • Rosemary Griggs
  • Russ Wellen
  • Sam Morton
  • Sao Magnifico
  • Sara Amis
  • Sarah Ayres
  • Sarah Bufkin
  • Saralyn Chesnut
  • Scott Anna
  • Scott Borchert
  • Scott Keyes
  • Scott Wooledge
  • Sean Manion
  • Seth Cline
  • Shane Gilreath
  • Sharon M. Riley
  • Shay Dawkins
  • Sheffield Hale
  • Sheila Barnard Nungesser
  • Sigrid Sanders
  • SoniaTai
  • Sonya Collins
  • Soraya Chemaly
  • Spencer Lawton
  • Stephanie Taylor
  • Stephen Lacey
  • Stephen Wingeier
  • Steve King
  • Steve Krodman
  • Steve Valk
  • Stuart Liss
  • Sue Sturgis
  • Sujigu
  • Susan De Bonis
  • Susan Soper
  • Susan Wilson
  • Suz Korbel
  • Tammy Andrews
  • Tammy Ingram
  • Tanya Somanader
  • Ted Kooser
  • Terri Evans
  • The Barnacle Goose
  • Thomas A. Bledsoe
  • Tiger Liliuokalani
  • Tim Oliver
  • Timothy Freeman
  • Timothy Hurst
  • Tom Baxter
  • Tom Crawford
  • Tom Ferguson
  • Tom Millsop
  • Tom Poland
  • Tom Walker
  • Travis Waldron
  • Travis Waldron & Pat Garofalo
  • Trevor Stone Irvin
  • Tricia Collins
  • Troubadour
  • Valerie Evans
  • Viveca Novak
  • Waldron, Somanader & Garofalo
  • Walter Rhett
  • Wanda Argersinger
  • Wayne Countryman
  • Wayne Johnson
  • We The People
  • Will Cantrell
  • Will Nelson
  • William Cotter
  • William Hedgepeth
  • Yana Kunichoff
  • Yasmin Vafa
  • Zack Beauchamp
  • Zack Ford
  • Zaid Jilani
  • Zaina Budayr




  • Writer Login


    John C. Campbell Folk School

    Stealing Fire

    by | 4 | May 17, 2012

    My friend told me before I left home that “Just because it isn’t glowin’ doesn’t mean it’s not hot.”

    John C. Campbell Folk SchoolSo the next day I set out from the mountains of northeastern West Virginia along the Shenandoah Valley to the John C. Campbell Folk School (Folkschool.org) in the hills of far western North Carolina to take a week-long class on the basics of blacksmithing.

    I know several blacksmiths, men and women who “soften” steel with fire and make it flow in shapes and directions as though it were clay. They are strong people, often quiet in their intensity, focused on keeping the fire to nearly the melting point of steel, able to fetch the glowing and malleable stock from the heat and quickly bend or wrap it around the sides or horn of the anvil before it returns to its rigid and dark natural state. The hot steel becomes their liquid voice.

    Their ancient craft, dating back to the Iron Age about 1,500 BC, is as “ornamental” as it is functional… gates with solid leaves forced by heat and hammer to assume life-like form, fireplace accessories that feel like a handshake in your paw, garden follies that grab your eye better than any staged dance revue. And they make all these protean changes of shape look almost easy and seemingly effortless.

    I found out quickly that’s not necessarily so.

    To get to where I was, I had followed my curiosity about blacksmithing that had been piqued a few years earlier watching local smithies working. These are crafts people who don’t spend their time simply making horseshoes. They are the sons and daughters of those who toiled over forges to give the substance to our lives in an earlier time. Doors with hinges that would not sag, chandeliers that held the candles to give the light to both cottage and great hall, graceful railings to keep us on the path, curved or straight and narrow.

    Stopping along the way in Asheville, one of this country’s great small towns, to visit with friends, I had the chance to see the work of a number of smithies whose hot studios are perhaps more inviting in winter than summer. But the forges that eat the coal have a life force unto themselves, smoking with an anxious energy about to take off.

    My Journey to AppalachiaOn Sunday, I set out out in the early afternoon for the final 100 miles of my journey, one that I have made many times in the past decade. These miles take you further away from what some think of as “civilization” to a rural landscape deep in Appalachia that you soon sense resonates with a different kind of bustle. As John Campbell and his indefatigable wife Olive Dame, educators with a calling for humanitarian work, came to appreciate early in the 20th century, they were not there to patronize the mountain folk who lived in the “hollers” and led agricultural lives, perhaps a bit lacking in formal education but rich in self sufficiency, creativity, and music. The Campbells were there to collaborate with and learn from as well as teach the local people as they all embraced an experimental Danish educational concept that was noncompetitive–no grades, no credits, no pitting of one individual against another.

    Olive Dame CampbellAlthough John died before the school was established in the mid 1920s, Olive and her friend Marguerite Butler, worked closely with the people of Brasstown for the rest of their lives to create this school as a unique institution that seeks to bring out the best in people. The school offers a wide spectrum of classes ranging from basketry to broom making, pottery, jewelry, cooking, dance, dyeing, drawing and painting, enameling, story telling, stained glass, knitting,kaleidoscopes, leather, marbling, tin smithing, music, nature studies, needlecraft, photography, printmaking, quilting, spinning, sewing, stone and sculpture, weaving,woodcarving, woodturning, woodworking, and writing. And, of course, blacksmithing.

    Listening to the welcome of Jan Davidson, the school’s longtime director, during “morning song” early on Monday before breakfast, you learn more than a bit about the proud people, mostly of Scots-Irish descent, who first settled these mountains that run from southern Ohio,through Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and into western Georgia. You know that they can also be the butt of “hillbilly” jokes, but that is the viewer’s loss and a simple perception that belies a rich heritage. As Jan likes to note, few people who spend time at Campbell go home with the cliched image of paddling canoes and banjo music. And if you’re going to be a part of the school, you quickly learn that the correct pronunciation of the third “a” in Appalachia sounds a bit like throwing an “apple at ‘cha.”

    So, who are the people who spend their precious time and scarce money at Campbell?Are they so different from the local folk who by necessity had to be creative and practical if they wanted furniture, pots and pans, baskets, farm implements, and musical instruments? Visitors to the school today might have different accents, higher incomes and more formal education, but they have many of the same values of hard work,responsibility, and curiosity as those who came before them several generations earlier. They are people engaged in something outside themselves. Most importantly, they share a common desire–perhaps even a need–to get their hands dirty, to be the ones who actually cut the willow for the baskets, form the clay for the pots, and chainsaw the logs for the bowls.

    There is ultimately the satisfaction and innate enjoyment in making your own “toys” rather than buying them.

    In today’s ever more technical world where we fight wars on computer screens, talk to the person in the next room via e-mail or twitter, and leave planet Earth on a regular basis to play in various fantasy worlds, there is perhaps a stronger appeal to connect with what is real, things we can touch and feel.

    David Evans Stealing Fire Thus, when Howard and his assistant David gathered twelve strangers together after supper on Sunday, we began to live the John C. Campbell experience of learning without competition, of bringing our various talents together to acquire a new skill and to assist one another. We soon chose our hammers and tongs and were introduced to Fire. As the week progressed, I was reminded of the myth of Prometheus, the great benefactor of mankind, who stole Fire from Zeus to empower mankind with a new force,one of the four great life giving components in our world — Earth, Air ,Wind and Fire–with Fire being akin to the active, the enthusiastic. Fortunately, there was only enthusiasm the week I was there – no burns, blood or bludgeoned feet from heavy falling objects.

    The term “blacksmith” comes from the “forging” of iron or the “Black” metal. The term “forging” means to shape metal by heating and hammering. Blacksmiths work primarily with wrought iron and steel. The “black” in “blacksmith” refers to the black fire scale, a layer of oxides that forms on the surface of the metal during heating. The word “smith” derives from the Old English word “smite,” to hit. Thus, a blacksmith is a person who hits black metal.

    schoolʼs blacksmith shopThe school’s blacksmith shop captures the idea of solid strength that the school represents. Remodeled a few years ago with the close coordination of the Timber Framer’s Guild, the structure combines steel with massive timber framing to place you in a fortress that defies siege. Instead of hovering or dancing over the ground, it is part and parcel of the Earth from which it rises with its smoke stacks reaching into the air. You feel confident and safe in its embrace.

    In making our way to our forges and learning to make our fires and keep them hot, we got our hands dirty quickly. We also learned to use the concrete floor as a place to drop hot steel. The coke that is made from the burning coal produces temperatures that are color coded and go from red, then orange, yellow and finally white. The ideal heat for most forging is the bright yellow-orange color appropriately known as a “forging heat.”

    The blacksmith must tend his fire constantly and watch for these colors. Before you can blink, you learn that coke can get hotter than you can imagine and quickly consume your steel. When you reach that critical point, the steel can melt and burn, just like a piece of kindling: when it takes on the form of a Fourth of July Sparkler, it’s time to start over.

    The great heat-producing coke is also fragile and easily crushed or broken into small pieces. Too much air burns up your fuel too quickly whereas poor techniques of inserting iron into the fire for heating or improper or excessive use of fire tending tools will break up or pack the coke and spoil your fire bed. Just as soon as you think you have the hang of it, your fire pulls away and pouts and won’t give you what you want and need.

    One of the basic laws of blacksmithing is that the fire will not abide being ignored. When one of us would grumble that our fire had fizzled out or had not taken and we couldn’t seem to get it back, David would wind his way over to our forge and explain what had gone wrong. Soon you began to feel how Fire can pull you into its spell and magic.

    Needless to say, building a proper fire and maintaining it takes time to master, and we all quickly discovered that it’s not as easy as it looks.

    At one point early on, I told Howard that I was about to tell him something I had never said in my life…”I feel a wee bit faint. “He smiled and said perhaps it was because I had been standing about 3 feet from nearly 2,000 degrees F too long. Swoon…

    Our days would begin with Howard showing us how to make a variety of objects and then sending us back to our forges to “get ‘er done.” Not a lot of hands-on attention unless you asked. His approach was “you work it out and come back to me if your have questions.” More importantly, no one got burned during the week and no one dropped anything heavy on their feet.

    Over the next week we made simple hooks and then “S” hooks, faux ivy leaves to adorn railings,and then fireplace tongs and shovels. Lots of twists of glowing steel to give our product some character. Finally, we had a demonstration of how to make a center punch that had been tempered to extra hardness.

    we made simple hooks andthen “S” hooks, faux ivy leaves to adorn railings,and then fireplace tongs and shovels.It was a labor-intensive week with almost every night following supper stretching to the bewitching 10 pm hour. One ate well and slept soundly.

    My eleven other fellow craftsmen and women became friends and helpmates over the week. We shared coal and fire, shoveled out the spent ashes together, assisted one another when needed, and parted on Saturday morning knowing we had shared an experience that had brought us together. The week was what John C. Campbell was all about.

    A part of our hearts will remain in the Highlands near the fire where racks of hard, cold steel stock wait patiently for one of us to return, cut them to length, and coax them to respond to the flames and coals to curve and bend and take on new life forms.
    Thank you, Howard, David, Director Jan, Dr. John, Lady Olive, Ms. Marguerite… and, last but not least, Prometheus.

    Joseph C. Campbell Folk School

    ###
    • Photos: All the images in this story were supplied by the author.
    David Evans

    David Evans

    I’m retired from another life and live in the mountains of eastern West Virginia with my muse Jody along with one little and two big dogs and a diminishing pride of two cats and other critters who come along the path from time to time.

    I retired one morning years ago when I woke up and said, “This is the day.” It was simply time to do something new with my life. I had done whatever I did long enough, and now it was time to do something else. Being independent and no longer in the reins of someone else’s driver, I believe I have found something to cherish that I never had before. Retirement may be dull and boring, but that’s true only if you are dull and boring. But if you’re like I was, and am, I saw a lot of things as I went along the trail that I would have liked to linger over a lot longer if I had had the time to spare. Above all, I wanted to think about what they meant and have the chance to go back over them and figure them out. I’m not abashed to say that today I lead a life of real luxury. I also recognize that I’m a lucky boy.

    In the words of Katherine Anne Porter: “My life has been incredible, I don’t believe a word of it.”

    I am the author of the recently published collection of essays entitled Meeting Memory In The Dark. Earlier I self-published Words To Woo Her By And Other Distractions Along The Way; Tunes of Glory: The Slow Ticking of the Heart; Cradle My Soul: Glimpses Into Other Lives; and Unscheduled Stops: Essays on Love, Loss and Other Roadside Attractions. All are available on either Amazon or Create Space, a subsidiary of Amazon. Proceeds go to the Almost Heaven Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary in Capon Bridge, West Virginia.

     

    Print Friendly, PDF & Email

     

    • Frank Povah

      Ah David. This brings back the sonly happy memories I have of school. A high school I attended for 12 months had a blacksmith’s shop with six forges and the indefatigable “Ticky” Stringfellow as our guide. Maybe more of that later.

      • David

        You can’t just leave us hanging about a guy named “Ticky”!

    • Mike Williams

      You have certainly forged a fine account of yet another rewarding adventure at John C. Campbell. I especially like the line that “fire will not abide being ignored.” I know some people like that, not a small number of them women.

      • David

        I wonder if I know any of those women….thank you, sir, for taking the time to read my scribbling. cheers

  • Worthy of Comment






  • Bruce Springsteen Sings "Robert Mueller's Comin' to Town"



  • Come Back, Barack - SNL



  • Indivisible at One

    Green Day - Back In The USA



  • The Most Honest Three Minutes
    In Television History


  •  
     
     
  • %d bloggers like this: