Waterford Launches Folk School to Teach Craftsmanship

The village of Waterford has long drawn on its heritage of craftsmanship during its annual three-day fair that dates back more than 70 years. Now the Waterford Foundation is working to expand its focus on that folk crafts tradition.

The organization this week announced plans to open the first folk school in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area in August.

The classes, set for the weekend of Aug. 19-21, are part of a growing trend to teach the crafts, skills and trades that predate people’s modern dependence on prefabricated items by other hands.

The “school” will be one of more than 40 in 22 states nationwide, according to the Folk School Alliance. At least 10 of those schools were founded within the past 10 years.

Waterford Foundation Executive Director Thomas Kuehhas said the initiative is a joint effort, mostly by the Education and Development committees. The foundation was one of the country’s first community-based historic preservation organizations, and this new outgrowth of the Waterford Fair’s craft-making skills is seen as a natural progression.

It also is not an entirely new idea for the foundation, as the Education Committee in 1975 held a series of weekly classes in quilting, ceramics, weaving and furniture repair, as well as concerts and lectures.

“This is a great fit for us, since the folk school movement focuses on learning from master artisans like the ones we host at our annual fair,” Kuehhas said. It’s about connecting with the past and enjoying a sense of place, Kuehhas added, noting he couldn’t think of a better place to do that than in a village that dates to the early 18th century.

The weekend program is intended to be “sort of a dry run,” Kuehhas said, during which the foundation can assess the level of interest, as well as work out the logistical details needed to put the effort on a more permanent basis. “Ideally, it would be all the time,” but there’s a way to go before that could become reality, he said.

Each of the four classes planned would cover between 10 and 12 hours over the weekend, all taught by experienced and well-known Loudoun professionals. They include:

  • appliqué quilting, taught by Brenda Ashley and Ceil Karvellas, members of the Waterford Quilters Guild;
  • archaeology, presented by David Clarke, Loudoun Catholic archaeologist and professor with more than 35 years’ experience;
  • the use of lime mortar, taught by a Lincoln stonemason Allen Cochran, a preservation specialist; and
  • antique window restoration, taught by Waterford carpenter and builder Tim McGinn, who has done a number of restoration projects.

There will be one session on Friday evening, two on Saturday, including lunch, and one on Sunday morning, Kuehhas said.

Tuition will be $300 per course, plus the cost of materials for the quilting class. To register, contact the Waterford Foundation at 540-882-3018 or go to waterfordfoundation.org.


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