Swannanoa Valley Museum debuts Winter Workshop series March 7-21

Herbal medicine bottles

Press release from the Swannanoa Valley Museum:

Who: Swannanoa Valley Museum
What: Swannanoa Valley Museum Hosts Winter Workshop Series to teach Appalachian Craft and Music Traditions
When: Saturdays, March 7, 14 and 21
Why: Fundraiser for the Swannanoa Valley Museum
Where: Meets at the Black Mountain Public Library, 105 N Dougherty St, Black Mountain 28711
Cost: $30 per workshop for museum members, $35 per workshop for nonmembers. $80 for the full series for museum members, $95 for the full series for nonmembers.

Tickets available at: https://www.history.swannanoavalleymuseum.org/event/winter-workshop-series/

This March, the Swannanoa Valley Museum will host its first-ever Winter Workshop series, focused on the craft and music traditions of Southern Appalachia. For three consecutive Saturdays from March 7 thru March 21, local professionals will teach two-to-three hour workshops on Appalachian ballad singing, Appalachian folk medicine, and quilting traditions of the Southern mountains. Drawing on winter traditions of crafting around the hearth, each workshop will focus on creating tangible materials and developing skill sets that attendees can walk away with. End products from the classes will include hand-sewn quilt squares, jars of home cold remedies and recordings of traditional songs.

The first workshop, taught on March 7, will explore the tradition of Appalachian ballad singing. The museum’s Interim Director, Saro Lynch-Thomason, will teach ballads, or “story songs,” brought over by immigrants from the British-Isles and passed through oral tradition in southern Appalachia. “Appalachian ballad singing has been a part of Western North Carolina singing traditions since Scottish, English, and Irish colonists came to the mountains,” says Ms. Lynch-Thomason, an award-winning singer who has performed ballads as far away as Aberdeen, Scotland. “People today continue to be drawn to the simplicity and beauty of ballads, and musicians like Dolly Parton, Kathy Mattea and Nick Cave continue to use them in their repertoires.” Ms. Lynch-Thomason will teach some of her favorite ballads from Southern Appalachia in a sing-and-repeat (or, “knee to knee”) fashion accessible to all levels of singers. All attendees will be provided with print-outs of lyrics and recordings of the songs learned.

In the second workshop in the series, taking place on March 14, ethnobotanist and wild food enthusiast Becky Beyer will teach the fundamentals of Appalachian folk medicine as a living practice. Ms. Beyer’s workshop will explore the broad cultural influences that make the Appalachian region and its folk healing practices unique — from European humoral medicine to West African spiritual traditions. She will discuss key regional plant species and classic remedies. Participants should arrive ready to taste, mix, touch and smell barks, powders, teas and syrups. All participants will spend time making a vinegar remedy that they will be able to take home.

The last workshop, taught by Asheville Quilt Guild member Sara Hill, will take place on March 21 and explore the Appalachian tradition of pieced quilt making. Pieced quilt making is a practice that people have passed from generation to generation in Appalachia since the colonial era. In this workshop, participants will learn to make their own quilt squares in the historic log cabin pattern, a beloved and popular design that has been in use for at least 200 years. Pieces will be cut and sewn by hand, and participants will walk away with a square that can be adapted into a place mat or a potholder.

The series, a fundraiser for the nonprofit museum, costs $30 per workshop for museum members and $35 per workshop for nonmembers. Participants who pay for the entire series receive a $10 discount, with museum members paying $80 and nonmembers paying $95. All supplies will be provided for all workshops.

All workshops will take place in the community room at the Black Mountain Library. Participants must register ahead of time. To participate, please reserve your space by calling the Swannanoa Valley Museum at (828) 669-9566, or go to www.swannanoavalleymuseum.org/events to register.

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