and traditional skills
The Craft program at OA is rooted in the traditions of the Blue Ridge Mountains. During weekly Craft classes, you’ll have the opportunity to study a variety of creative art forms like blacksmithing, woodworking, and ceramics from local artisans and experts. Additionally, Craft frequently appears around campus outside of formal classes. Whether you’re learning to crochet from your bunkmate or hosting an impromptu a Capella concert during dinner dish crew, Craft will weave itself into your each and every day at OA. So, pick up your guitar, find a pair of knitting needles, or dust off your garden gloves, and get ready to craft!
FIND YOUR FOCUS
Music, blacksmithing, quilting… the choice is yours!
During your semester, you will have the opportunity to choose two or three focus topics for your Craft rotations. These classes balance beauty and utility. You’ll first spend time learning the history and process behind an art form, before focusing in on the creation process rather than aiming to produce as many products as possible. Whether you’re already a skilled artist or you usually feel most comfortable in Science class or on the soccer field, Craft class is for you.
Craft classes serve as another way to connect us to the environment, too. No matter the medium – from wood to food to stained glass to gardening – classes incorporate nature and help us find our place in the natural world around us.
Develop self-reliance, gratitude, and perseverance while learning alongside experts mentors
The Craft cornerstone represents not only creating art but also taking pride and expecting quality in everything we do. An afternoon spent hammering at the forge or playing bluegrass tunes on the field helps us appreciate the beauty around us. It also helps us develop an appreciation for the process and utility of creation. You’ll be amazed at the creative artwork you produce, and even more astounded by what you learn during the many attempts it took to make that final handmade bowl or sweater. By emphasizing the craft of both hands and minds, your classes will let you take ownership of your work no matter what you choose to do.
Discover Craft Classes
Click on a picture to learn about a few of our rotating craft class options.
During a rotation of Kitchen Craft, you’ll explore the woods and use wild edibles to make delicious soups, salads, and stews for your community. You’ll practice techniques ranging from cider making to preserving and canning. Homemade garden pickles, anyone?
During a rotation at the forge, you’ll perfect your technique manipulating metal into beautiful and useful finished products. At the anvil, you’ll learn a variety of techniques to taper, bend, twist, and temper iron into final projects ranging form coat racks to kitchen utensils to fireplace tools. The forge is nestled in the woods on campus, and the loud clang of 19th century tools against hot iron is tempered by the focus on process, practice, and patience that blacksmithing requires.
Imagine sewing your own quilt by hand in order to stay warm through the winter. That has been the reality for countless generations of people (often women) in Appalachia and around the world.
In this Craft class, you will have the chance to explore the history of textiles and gain a solid foundation in sewing. First, your teacher will walk you through various methods of cutting fabric and hand sewing. Once you have mastered the basics, you and your classmates will begin the process of learning how to maintain and operate various models of sewing machines. After studying traditional and modern quilting techniques and designs, your class will culminate with you designing and sewing your very own lap quilt.
In this course, you will gain hands-on experience carving spoons and other woodenware using just a hatchet and carving knives. Most projects begin as salvaged timber from storm damage on campus or from the surrounding community. First, logs are split into blanks using a froe and rough shaped using a carving axe. Next, you refine the shape using sloyd carving knives and specific traditional carving techniques. After that, your designs can become as elaborate as you can imagine!
After completing a woodcarving class rotation, you will have learned how to safely use carving tools, what it means to execute good design, and how to continue to refine your carving skills in the future. Plus, you’ll have a set of brand new, homemade additions to your kitchenware drawer!