Old time tatting, caning, quilting and spinning offered at Patchwork Folk & Fabric Festival
The 6th annual Patchwork Folk and Fabric Festival is scheduled for Saturday, June 4, inside the Jackson County Recreation Center in Cullowhee, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
“I remember as a child when my aunts would drop a quilt from the quilting rack on the ceiling,” says Amy Ammons Garza, co-organizer, “and quilt for days on end until the quilt was completed. Well, this year, we will once more have some special local quilts hanging from the ceiling on display ... hand pieced quilts with written descriptive stories attached to each quilt.”
More quilts will be displayed as members of Dogwood Crafters share quilt stories in a “Bed Turning” display which will happen every hour on the hour during the day. And to add to the day, the Smoky Mountain Quilters Guild will be demonstrating the art of old time needle quilting.
Other demonstrations this year will include nature illustrations, tatting, caning, corn shuck doll making, wood carving, and other folk arts such as rug braiding, rug hooking, spinning and carting, weaving, crocheting, knitting — with demonstrators from Western North Carolina’s towns of Sylva, Cullowhee, Tuckasegee, Hendersonville, Asheville, Robbinsville, Franklin, Waynesville, Lake Junaluska, Whittier and Dillsboro.
Ruth Ensley Bryson from Cullowhee will be on hand to demonstrate her “needle tatting” ability. Tatting is an old craft used to make a type of lace. Tatting has experienced numerous periods of popularity, including during Victorian times and the 1950s and ’60s. The English name of tatting is said to be derived from “tatters” and to denote the frail disconnected character of the fabric. In recent years, it has been revived with great enthusiasm. Tatting is easy to learn in spite of the incredible complexity of designs and the vast array of projects available to the avid tatter. Tatting designs are elegant, dainty and useful.
David Ammons, chair caner, weaves his heritage into his craft, for with every row of splints, he recreates his time with his grandfather.
“Grandpa Ammons made his own chairs,” he says. “I watched in awe as a child as he wove his magic after carefully framing the chair piece by piece. I often wonder now why I didn’t ask him to teach me when I was that eightyear- old, watching. I just sat there drinking in each movement of his strong, yet gentle, hands. All of this came back to me in 1975 when I sat looking at one of Grandpa’s chairs. I told my wife, Sherilyn, that I thought I could recreate Grandpa’s movements that I remembered so well. I got an old chair frame and some split oak splints and the rest is history.
“Caning comes in many disguises, but all of it is weaving. I watched Grandpa do only the herringbone weave from white oak splints. However, there are many forms of weaving ... wicker, rush, splint, shaker tape, rawhide, Danish cord, binder cane, and the seven-step method hand caning. Caning dates back to before 4000 B. C., I have learned, and is still popular in most households today. Someone wise once said that the hands and mind of the caner work together to join the past with the present.”
Another highlight of the festival will be the opportunity to purchase homemade food for lunch, made by the board of directors of Catch the Spirit of Appalachia led by Mary Jo Cobb and Gail Nolen.
Presented by Catch the Spirit of Appalachia, Inc. (CSA), the Appalachian Homestead Farm & Preserve, and the Jackson County Parks & Recreational Department, this inside folk and fabric festival has drawn crafters in traditional dress from the region to showcase these old-time traditions. The Patchwork Folk and Fabric Festival exemplifies a culture that has grown up and persevered throughout the years. Come join the nonprofit organizations as they honor local roots, customs, love of nature, and love of people. The Jackson County Recreation Center is located at 88 Cullowhee Mountain Road in Cullowhee. Coming from Sylva, Cullowhee Mountain Road is on the right just past the fourth traffic light beyond WCU University on Route 107. Call the Recreation Center for more information at (828)293-3053.