art, book arts, John C. Campbell Folk School

Thursday at John C. Campbell Folk School

We finished binding the spine of the wooden books today. We still have a lot of work to do to it tomorrow. Mine is named “Brasstown Book.” It looks a lot like an old celestial map.

I filled the mica window of the third book with sparkly beads. Oops, I thought that I was finished but I didn’t do a closure. Shoot. That will be a problem to solve tomorrow.

We learned how to make this “centipede” tonight, but my eyes were too tired to do the second one he taught us! I like this a lot, though.

art, book arts, John C. Campbell Folk School

Wednesday at JCCFS

Well, last night after I posted, I nearly ruined my first book with a green ink mishap. Today I think that I redeemed it and it will look better after I work on the inside at home. In a way it was a good thing, as accidents often are, because it gave me the idea to make it into an alphabet book using the stamps that Rice gave me and the ones that I carved.

I decided to start another book with the same basic class materials. This time I stopped when I started getting really tired!:

And the real show stopper and the focus of our class is well under way. We finished painting, distressing, and cutting the wooden book covers today. Tomorrow we start sewing the binding.

I’d love to make at least two more little books while I’m here. We’ll see. Tomorrow and Friday nights we’ll have things going on here and in beautiful downtown Brasstown, NC.

art, book arts, John C. Campbell Folk School

Tuesday at JCCFS

Last night I bound a book with the paper that included Squirt and Mama Kitty’s fur and the artichoke paper. Today I found a piece of mica that highlighted Squirt’s eyes – perfect!

I’m working on three books at once right now. The wooden covers for the main book of the workshop have been drilled, beveled, sanded, and banged and scratched. I’m working on futzing around with the first book’s cover. And Squirt’s book is nearly finished – I’ll put a bone bead (not his, I promise!) and a closure on it tonight.

I took lots of photos of Daniel Essig’s books and other books from his collection that he brought to show us. Most of these books are very small. They will be on my flickr site. I will edit and describe them when I get home, because I’m getting in all the work play I can here!

Here’s a shot of my workspace with Squirt’s book.

fiber art, John C. Campbell Folk School

Weaving hats

bulrush derby

I guess it’s time for me to write about the woven hats, huh?

There’s not a whole lot to say. I loved making them. It was easy and relaxing. A bit stinky, but I’ve never been one to care about that much. After a few days of soaking, the cattails and bulrush smelled sort of like a cross between a barn and a swamp. The instructors were easy-going and fun to listen and talk to. Everyone in the class, which was only five students and two teachers, was laid back. We got a lot of personal attention and a lot of insights into life around Brasstown and Murphy, North Carolina.

weaving a cattail hatFirst, I made a wide-brimmed garden hat entirely out of cattail leaves. We used hat forms. They were useful in pinning the weaving close together and keeping the size and shape intact while the hat dried. The cattails separated a lot when they dried.

The next hat was a bowler (derby) hat made entirely out of bulrush. This was soft and pliable to work with, and allowed a tighter, more controlled weave.

In the meantime, I was working on a five-strand raffia braid to sew into a raffia hat. As badly as I wanted to make a fedora, my fingers had a different opinion. I needed 8-10 yards of braid for the hat. I had an awkward time with the braiding and on Thursday morning I woke up with numb hands.

So I decided to give up the raffia hat and make another hat, this time out of cattails and bulrush, with a flat top and short brim. I also decided to weave an inkle band, so that I could switch off to a different activity when my body told me that it had had enough. I’ve woven inkle bands for several years, so I was more interested in learning the basketry techniques. However, it was good to get a refresher on the inkle loom since it has been a while, and I enjoyed weaving on the porch of Keith House late Thursday afternoon. Part of the appeal of the inkle loom is its portability. The design was based on the colors I brought and a walk on a path between a road and a meadow with wild mustard and white and purple violets.

My classmates wove the two hats in the front of this photo. My final hat is drying in the back. More photos later.

woven hats

Update, July 13, 2010, in response to comments:

I do not have any books or recommendations for books on woven hats. But my hats are basically plaited basketry with an extended rim. Twining is used in the areas that turn corners for strength. I used hat forms and pins and let the hats dry on the forms. You can buy hat forms at and there are a few books on hatmaking there as well, but I have not looked at them. I know that Chad Alice Hagen is a fun funky artist if you are interested in felt. Jan Stansell taught the class that I took at JCFS.

I harvest my own cattail from ditches on my mother’s farm, but I ordered bulrush from these guys. I don’t see it on their list anymore but they have cattail and something called Portuguese cattail that looks similar to bulrush.:

I haven’t made any hats lately because I have medical issues with my hands. I miss it – it was a fun messy thing to do on a hot summer day.