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director Kristin Muller.
“The culture of wealth means not
having to make things with your hands,”
she says. “Everything from the Industrial
Revolution to the advent of plastic to the
lack of funding for art programs in public
schools has contributed to the widespread
erosion of knowledge when it comes to
creating useful things.”
In ;;;;, Peters Valley and four other
schools—Arrowmont School of Arts and
Crafts in Tennessee; Penland School of
Crafts in North Carolina; Pilchuck Glass
School in Washington; and Haystack
Mountain School of Craft in Maine—began
partnering in an awareness campaign called
the Craft School Experience to right that
imbalance. In New Jersey, the continuing
e;ort to get people using their hands in
concert with their imaginations includes
;;; Peters Valley “immersion” workshops
for adults at all levels of proficiency.
There are unusual-sounding work-
shops, like Imagery and Color in Jacquard
Weaving, where students use a digitally
controlled loom to enhance their under-
standing of “the woven matrix.” There are
more practical-sounding ones, too, like
rug weaving, seat caning and Cordwainer
craft, in which students learn to make
classic handmade leather shoes. Black-
smithing courses on o;er this summer
include Arrowheads and Spears, as well
as Forging for Home and Hearth.
Some enrollees refer to themselves as
artists, others prefer to be called makers,
says Muller. On a typical week, ;; to ;;;
students flock to campus. About ;; percent stay onsite; the rest commute. Many,
like the ceramics enthusiast Epstein,
leave their cell phones behind.
“Mine stays in my car,” says Epstein.
“You can get away from all that here.”
Stephen Midki;, a retired military man
from Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, was so
impressed with Sam Salvati’s blacksmithing skills that he returned last summer for a
second swordmaking workshop.
“This is a lifetime pursuit,” says Midki;,
live the experience of real craftsmen. The
goal is perfection, but I will never get this
perfect.” In fact, Midki;’s family thinks he
might be a bit o; kilter, running o; to New
Jersey for five days of nine-to-five sword-
making in the July heat.
It does seem a little crazy: The coal
forges in the sooty blacksmithing workshop reach ;,;;; degrees, says Salvati,
who lives in Baltimore. And there’s no
relief from the heat they throw o; during
long hours mostly given over to forging,
filing and sanding blades. Patience, precision and sweat are all part of the deal.
At the fiber-arts center, a five-minute
drive across campus from the blacksmithing studio, the action is a lot less
sooty. Here, seven students in Jan Wutkowski’s hatmaking class are hunched
over long tables, cutting and sewing.
It’s late afternoon, but they have been
making hats since ; AM, with just a one-hour break for lunch. Most didn’t put
down their fabrics and tools until ; PM
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