Sycamore Shoals asks community to embrace local history and art

Published 9:55 am Saturday, January 17, 2015

Photo by Abby Morris-Frye Class instructor Barbara Jernigan explains techniques to students in the watercolor painting class.

Photo by Abby Morris-Frye
Class instructor Barbara Jernigan explains techniques to students in the watercolor painting class.

As part of its efforts to preserve the history and culture of the area, Sycamore Shoals State Park regularly offers workshops to teach traditional skills.
What is a traditional art? The people who lived in this region had a special way of turning everyday objects of survival and necessity into works of art, said Park Manager Jennifer Bauer, and Sycamore Shoals State Park strives to keep these unique skills alive.
“We like to find different classes that illustrate what would have been life skills in the 18th century,” she said. “Some classes will be more modern in nature, but others will have a more historical context.”
Workshops are held on traditional skills such as leatherworking, weaving and spinning.
While we now consider these type of activities as crafts or hobbies, Bauer said, at one time they were livelihoods and life skills – things that had to be done in order to survive.
“There is also beautiful art to the pieces people made,” Bauer said, adding while many of the items had practical uses, the men and women who made them took time to include beauty in their work. “It was always an art, but it was also a necessary art.”
One example Bauer cited is weaving. Cloth was woven to make clothing, bedding and a number of other items. However, she said, by adding different colors into the mix the weavers were able to not only make an item that was needed, they were able to create something beautiful as well.
In addition to the traditional arts classes, Bauer said the park also offers workshops on updates to older crafts.
“We like to offer classes that have a more modern approach as well,” Bauer said.
One example is the watercolor painting workshop.
“People have painted throughout history,” Bauer said. “You have the cave art which has been discovered all over the world and here locally the Native American art.”
The park also offers workshops on sewing with a sewing machine as one of its modern skill options.
Workshops are offered throughout the year, usually on Saturdays. For more information on the workshops or to find out when they are scheduled, you can visit the park website at or contact the park at 423-543-5808.
Below are some the workshops already scheduled for this year:
Jan. 24 from 9 a.m. – noon
Cost: $50 includes loom (to keep) & all supplies; $20 thread only; $10 instruction only
Learn how to weave wide sashes, narrow bands, and shoelaces on a loom that is light-weight and easy to carry around! You can create wonderful patterns through varied placement of colorful thread. Bring scissors.
Jan. 31 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Cost: $30 plus cost of materials – reed & string (pay instructor at start of class for materials)
Materials: chair to cane, bucket or dishpan suitable for hot water, scissors, butter knife, 2 old towels
A great way to repair an old favorite or brush up an antique! Find out how to weave the life back into your old cane furniture.
Feb. 8 from 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Cost: No Charge – Registration is NOT necessary for this session
Curious about bees? Learn about the benefits of back yard beekeeping, the critical necessity of their function of pollination, and local resources that would aid a beginning beekeeper.
Feb. 7 & 21, March 7 & 21 from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Cost: $80 for all 4 classes – plus supplies
Learn to sew an easy starter project! Class is designed for true beginners. Topics covered: pattern layout, importance of grain line / seam allowances, pattern terminology and many much more. Student will sew a bathrobe as their project. Please bring – sewing machine & manual, basic sewing supplies , fabric and pattern. Instructor will provide a supply list at the first class. Bring your machine to class #1.
Feb. 14 & 21 from 9 a.m. – noon
Cost: $20 All Materials Provided
Learn and practice mixed media techniques using acrylic paints, inks, & more.
Feb. 28 from 9 a.m. – noon
Cost: $30
Save energy, reduce waste and protect your family from chemicals by using environmentally friendly wool dryer balls. In our class we will create 4-6 dryer balls from 100% wool. Wool dryer balls are an all natural alternative to fabric softeners and dryer sheets. Dryer balls also shorten drying time and remove wrinkles in the dryer. 100% safe for all laundry including cloth diapers. Bring an old towel.

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