Fiber Arts Workshops to educate about craft and Appalachian culture

Border Collie Sheephearding is just one of the many events taking place as part of the Smoky Mountain Fiber Arts Festival in Townsend on March 19, 20 and 21.

Border Collie Sheephearding is just one of the many events taking place as part of the Smoky Mountain Fiber Arts Festival in Townsend on March 19, 20 and 21.

If you have ever wanted to watch a Border Collie herd sheep, learn how to weave, spin, or make quilts or silk scarves, the Smoky Mountain Fiber Arts Festival is the place for you. This event will dedicate an entire weekend to the many areas of fiber arts and their unique contributions to Appalachian tradition.

The Fiber Arts Festival will be held in Townsend, Tenn. from March 19-21, 2010. It will feature workshops and demonstrations led by skilled artisans, sheepherding, a fashion show and dinner, and a variety of vendors and exhibits.

“This is the first jointly run festival that brings together the Townsend Visitor Center, Townsend Artisan Guild, and Fine Arts Blount,” said Cindy Cutting, president of the Townsend Artisan Guild. “Because of this partnership, we’re able to bring in the best local artisans and vendors in the fiber arts all under one roof for two days of classes. Classes run from 2 hours to all day, and we’ve tried to schedule both beginner and advanced classes in the major fiber arts.”

The workshops, held at Townsend Elementary School and Highland Manor Inn, include spinning, rug hooking, quilting, making appliqué wall hangings and wool appliqués, dyeing silk scarves, altering books, creating marbled paper, weaving, crocheting, felting and projects for young people.

“The festival provides the community with a connection to fiber arts and its role in our culture,” said Herb Handly, executive vice president of tourism for the Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We hope the entire family will walk away from this event with a greater appreciation and understanding of Appalachian culture and maybe even a new hobby.”

Each of the classes offers participants the chance to create their own unique work of fiber art. In the altered book class, students will take a book, old or new, and recycle it into a work of art. They will paint, cut, burn, fold, drill, and use rubber stamps, ink and other fibers to adorn the books. In the marbling class, participants will float paint on a liquid surface, making patterns to print on both paper and fabric. Participants will also be able to shop and select materials their own fiber art creations from a wide range of fiber art vendors.

“All the exhibitors and workshop leaders are highly talented in their various areas of fiber arts,” said Handly. “What they contribute to the festival is not only the education of their craft, but the education of an important part of Appalachian culture.”

The Townsend Visitors Center will host several exhibits including Border Collie Sheepherding by Leigh Anne and Paul Tucker. The Tuckers live on a small farm in Willisburg, Ky. where they raise Katahdin sheep. The Tuckers have been training and trialing border collies for more than 15 years. They are active members of the Kentucky Border Collie Association, Ohio Valley Stockdog Association and the United States Border Collie Association. Paul is the only member of the Ohio Valley Stockdog Association awarded the Open Dog of the Year with four different dogs including 2009.

Also at the Townsend Visitors Center will be a Sheep to Shawl demonstration, where visitors can see wool fleeces carded and spun into yarn and finally woven into a finished product, and the fiber arts exhibit “Smoky Mountain Traditions,” is a juried show for instructors and demonstrators.

“The festival is our way to introduce various fiber arts to the public and give those who are already involved in fiber arts a chance to try a new technique,” said Pat Delashmit of Fine Arts Blount.

The festival also has a special program for Saturday night at the Barn Event Center including a barbeque supper and a fiber fashion show where guests can purchase the fiber arts fashion accessories.

The Smoky Mountain Fiber Arts Festival is hosted by the Townsend Artisan Guild, Fine Arts Blount and the Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitors Bureau. The festival is sponsored by the Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitors Bureau, Smoky Mountain Feed, and Foothills Farmers Co-Op. Admission to the demonstrations at the festival and to the vendor booths is free. There are fees, and advance registration is required for the classes.

The deadline for enrolling in any of the fiber arts workshops is Friday, March 12. The classes are hands-on and most are limited to 8-10 students, so early registration will ensure availability.

“We have several top-rate instructors from all over the country participating this year,” says Festival Chairperson Cindy Cutting. “These instructors must prepare kits for attendees, so advance enrollment is important. We’ve set it up so that attendees pay one fee and it covers all materials in the kit as well as the class. This is especially helpful for beginners, who probably don’t have the proper materials on hand.”

For details about instructional classes and to register, call Mary Dresser, Great Smoky Mountains Institute, 865-448-6709, or Jeanie Hilten, Townsend Visitors Center, 865-448-6134, and visit the website: www.smfaf.org.

Fiber Arts Festival Tentative Schedule of Events:

Friday, March 19:

• 12 p.m. Registration at Highland Manor Inn

• 12 to 1:30 p.m. Break: Browse and Buy at Townsend Elementary School and Townsend Visitors Center

• 1 to 5 p.m. Class Sessions at Townsend Elementary School and Highland Manor Inn

• 1 to 5 p.m. Demonstrations; Sheep to Shawl at Townsend Elementary School and Townsend Visitors Center

• 1 to 5 p.m. Fiber Arts Exhibit: Smoky Mountain Traditions at Townsend Visitors Center

• 1 to 6 p.m. Vendors Marketplace at Townsend Elementary School

Saturday, March 20:

• 8 to 9 a.m. Registration at Highland Manor Inn

• 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Class Sessions at Townsend Elementary School and Highland Manor Inn

• 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Demonstrations; Sheep to Shawl at Townsend Elementary School and Townsend Visitors Center

• 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fiber Arts Exhibit: “Smoky Mountain Traditions” at Townsend Visitors Center

• 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Vendors Marketplace at Townsend Elementary School

• Noon to 5 p.m. Border Collie Sheepherding at Townsend Visitors Center

• 7 to 9 p.m. Dinner and Fiber Fashion Show at the Barn Event Center of the Smokies

Sunday, March 21:

• 2 to 5 p.m. Demonstrations at Townsend Visitors Center

• 2 to 5 p.m. Border Collie Sheepherding at Townsend Visitors Center

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