Usually on January mornings the Folk Art Center has a tendency to be on the quiet side. Last Tuesday morning was a welcome exception as four groups of kindergarten students from Isaac Dickson Elementary School made their way through the center. The children, along with faculty and parent volunteers, were participating in a program developed by the Southern Highland Craft Guild Education Committee. The committee has been working hard to strengthen school presentations. During this visit, organized by the Guild librarian, Deb Schillo, the groups made their way through four stations, each focusing on a different craft including broom making, spinning, quilting and pottery.

Barbara Merrell (pictured above) and Marlow Gates demonstrated how to make a broom. They talked about the materials used, different types of brooms and the history of broom making. They also showed the kids how to make their own small broom.

Mary Nichols (pictured above) showed the children how she spins wool into yarn. She explained that she can use raw fleece which has just been shorn from a sheep, wash it, card it, dye it, spin it and finally knit it into a shawl. This process, from sheep to shawl, gives new meaning to the phrase, “made from scratch.” She had several examples of fleece for the children to feel and she showed many of the products, such as scarves and dolls, that she makes with her own yarn.

At the quilting station Norma Bradley talked to the group about how she makes quilts, beginning with a design and ending with a finished piece of fiber art. She showed them one of her quilts, explaining the technique of applique and how she turns inspiration into various designs. The children also had an opportunity to experiment by cutting and pasting their own designs on paper. Back in the classroom the students will collaborate in making a group paper quilt.

Jennifer Hoolihan from Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts demonstrated how to throw a clay pot on the potter's wheel. She talked to the kids about where the clay comes from and how people through the years have been making pottery out of necessity. The group marveled as a lump of clay became a vase in Jennifer's hands. After the wheel demo the children were each given a bit of clay to create their own pinch pot.

Thanks to a great group of attentive students and supportive faculty and volunteers the morning of craft education was a success. Special thanks to the craftspeople who volunteered their time and expertise as well as the Guild members who were there to lend a helping hand: Marlow Gates, Barbara Merrell, Mary Nichols, Deb Schillo, Norma Bradley, Pat Bauman, Jennifer Hoolihan, and Tamela Wells.

If you are interested in learning more about craft education at the Folk Art Center feel free to call Deb Schillo at the Folk Art Center (828-298-7928) or email her at