Saturday, January 23, 2016

An experience of northern Georgia

I haven't spent any time at all in Georgia. I've flown through Atlanta a few times and marveled at the size of the airport. But I had never left the airport bubble until last week.

After teaching for the Chattahoochee Handweavers Guild in Atlanta, Tommye Scanlin* picked me up and we had a wonderful adventure in northern Georgia.

Remember that I am from the American Southwest. I am used to adobe and sand and canyons. North Georgia is a place of big trees, rolling hills and mountains, houses with big porches and white columns, and an accent that I love to listen to.

We started our adventure with a visit to Patricia William's Communion Tapestries at Grace-Calvary Episcopal church in Clarkesville, GA. The church is a beautiful old white building tucked into this little hillside town. It is the oldest church building still in use in north Georgia, dating from 1838.
Grace-Calvary Episcopal Church, Clarkesville, GA
The tapestries are a set of five panels installed as communion kneelers. Yes, the fact that people actually kneel on them makes me gasp. But they have been in use for quite a few years now and they look fantastic. They look like they are woven at 8 epi and shaped are to fit the curve of the kneelers. They are themed for the liturgical year: Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. In typical Pat Williams whimsy, they tell the stories well.
Pat Williams Communion Tapestries
Pat Williams Communion Tapestries
Here are a few details.
Pat Williams, Communion Tapestries, detail of Easter panel
Pat Williams, Communion Tapestries, Christmas panel
This detail captures the wonderful movement Pat has in her work. It is so engaging. I would recommend visiting her tapestries wherever possible (she has one in the upcoming American Tapestry Biennial 11) including a stop at this church to view this series.
Pat Williams, Communion Tapestries, detail of Pentecost panel
From Clarkesville, we visited some wonderful residency centers: Lillian Smith Center and The Hambidge Center. Inspiration winds its clever way through both of these places and I will be drawn back in the future.

We went to John C Campbell Folk School. Unfortunately the weaving class was not in session, but I was able to get a good look at the studio through the windows. What a wonderful place.
John C Campbell Folk School
John C Campbell fibers building
After a very chilly walk around the grounds (who knew I'd need my warm winter coat in Georgia?), we stopped in at this wood-fired cooking class. They didn't have samples for us, but it was very warm in there.
cooking class at John C Campbell Folk School
The stairs are steep in parts of the folk school!

This is another place to which I would like to return.

We passed the Appalachian trail a few times on the trip. I have read many books about this trail and perhaps will return one day to hike the whole thing. My favorite recent read about the AT is Grandma Gatewood's Walk by Ben Montgomery. If Grandma Gatewood can walk 2,000+ miles on that crazy-difficult trail twice in her late 60s and continue hiking for another decade all over the US, certainly I can manage it once.

The most amazing things I saw on this adventure, I don't have images to show you. Tommye Scanlin's tapestries are endlessly inspiring. I was able to see her workspaces and learn a little more about how she achieves the effects she does in her work. Tommye also has a piece in the upcoming American Tapestry Biennial 11 and I got to see it in person. It is a stunning piece. You won't want to miss Because of Memory.
Tommye and Rebecca out for a walk in the woods in north Georgia.
Thanks for the wonderful time Tommye!
*If you are not familiar with Tommye or her work, make sure to visit her blog. It is a rabbit hole you won't regret jumping down. Works in Progress. Tommye is the best sort of fiber person. She is gracious and giving and her skill in tapestry weaving is incredible. She was an art (and fibers) professor for over 30 years and at her "retirement" party a few years ago, when asked what she wanted to do now that she was retired, she said, "Teach!" She continues to teach workshops and I highly recommend any time you can spend with her. I know she has some wonderful workshops coming up in 2016 and 2017.


  1. Awwww... what lovely post about your north Georgia visit! Thomas & I surely did have fun showing you some of our neck of the woods. Now... get busy planning that NEXT trip this way... more things to do and see around here--including more than a drive-by of the Appalachian Trail!

  2. Love this. I think the world of tapestry is doubly blessed to have the two of you teaching. I have not gotten to take a class with Tommye, but have benefitted greatly by information she so graciously shares. And I am loving your online format. Next time you teach in 'these here parts' I hope to be in the class.

  3. Enjoyed reading this very much, Rebecca. Just regret that I missed seeing you when you were so close! Both Pat and Tommye are amazing artists. We are so lucky to have them in "our neck of the woods".

    1. I will come back Connie. I'd love to pick your brain about a thing or two sometime in person.

  4. Thank you, Rebecca, for this lovely little jaunt. I loved seeing the countryside and the tapestries, the Folk School is on my list, but I am not sure it will be soon. This must have been a wonderful trip with Tommye. You are certainly blessed to have had this time together and the trip, as well.


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