Instructors at WCA
Dwight Bennett graduated with an M.F.A. from Indiana State University, and has been a self-employed metalsmith in Long Beach, CA since 1979. He started his career by working in men’s accessories designing a successful line of high-end, automotive-themed, sterling silver key rings.
Shortly after, Road & Track Magazine tapped into Dwight’s talents when they asked him to make custom R&T emblems for a major feature article. Over the next 33 years, Dwight made many photo props and one-off trophies that R&T presented at the most prestigious of Automotive events.
By pure luck, a Special Agent from the U.S. Custom’s Service discovered Dwight’s inventiveness for a very specialized type of covert activity that the agency needed, but had never had, and so Custom’s used his services out in the field for 14 years.
Dwight also repaired antiques, made specialized architectural pieces, made public art and has done high-end conservation work on hardware for an historic Rancho. Dwight has also made one-off automotive parts for unique high-end, coach-built, antique automobiles.
In 2017, Dwight was asked to set up a metal’s program and start teaching Silversmithing at Washington College Academy in rural North East Tennessee. Simultaneously, Dwight has been working on a patent for a revolutionary, all-new type of crutch design, and designing and making Speaking Tube mouthpieces for Victorian-era House restorations.
Dwight was interviewed by Jay Leno for Jay Leno’s Garage, regarding some of his automotive-themed metalwork.
Caroline teaches students K-8 at Greene County Schools. While experienced in many media, she currently prefers to work with oil paints. Painting en “plein aire” is a favorite past-time and she will offer sessions for outdoor painters.
Dr. George Blanks, Ph.D
George took his first art appreciation course as a freshman in college and fell in love with art. He and his wife have since visited nearly every major art gallery and museum in the world. He brings this lifelong fascination to the classroom with a series of workshops on art appreciation.
Dr. Fran Church, Ed.S
Franhas been teaching art to art teachers for more than 30 years. Currently, she teaches at Walters State Community College and will offer courses on mixed media sculpture, 3D design, and workshops in drawing and color theory.
A master craftsman in stained glass for 49 years, Richard owns Artistry-in-Glass, a stained glass studio in Limestone, Tenn, where he and his son Bill produce both new work as well as restore and repair stained glass pieces. Richard will offer classes on working with glass for all all skill levels.
Dr. Anna Rae Dutro, Ph.D.
Rae is a master weaver and textile designer. She teaches at Carson-Newman University and will offer classes in weaving.
Heather S. Jones
Heather is an artist, teacher, and entrepreneur.A graduate of Florida State University, Heather has been a high school teacher for the past 38 yearsand owner of Up The Creek Designs, EquiHart, and now , Up The Creek Studio for the past 20 years. .Versed in a variety of media using multifaceted approach to art.
Robin Lynch is a native of Unicoi, Tennessee and received his BS degree in Biology from East Tennessee State University in 1991. He and his parents own and operate Farmhouse Gallery & Gardens in the Town of Unicoi, a working family farm and event venue, where Robin creates handmade metalwork and brooms in his log cabin blacksmith shop.
Robin worked with the general public for several years as a fishery biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and as a Cardiac Therapist at the Johnson City Medical Center. In 2002, he took a course on blacksmithing at the John C. Campbell Folk School and has been smithing ever since. In recent years, he has taken up broom making, learning from master broom maker, Bob Wiggins.
With a lifelong interest in art, nature and history, Robin enjoys creating hand forged items that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Recreating period correct hardware and forging mixed metal (iron, brass, copper) objects are among his favorite subjects, but teaching is his favorite way to share his talents. "It gives me great satisfaction to watch someone develop their skills and see the enthusiasm on their face as the items they are creating begin to take shape!", he says of teaching. Passing on the art form of blacksmithing is important to Robin and whether you just want the experience of working hot metal on an anvil, or if you want to truly begin learning the techniques of moving and shaping hot metal into your own creations, Robin can provide instruction to suit your needs.
My background has taken many twists and turns to bring me to this Journey in Basketry. For 40 years I worked in communications. This Journey began while I was working for USA Networks. Had climbed the corporate ladder and earned my corner office in Rockefeller Center, as Director of Billing and Contract Services. Through this I met Phil, he was a Media Broker for an outfit in Sharon, CT. we were Married and I moved to the Berkshires.
I had my first round with Lyme Disease in 93. While I was recovering Bob Albig a gentleman in his 80’s invited me up to make a basket. I thought I was just going to sit down and weave, but I was wrong. Bob handed me a small sledgehammer and an oyster knife a told me to follow him. Up to his brook we went, he pulled out a log, we began to pound off Brown Ash in growth ring strips. We cut them into narrower strips and began to weave. This was such an awesome experience I couldn’t wait to do it again.
Several days later, Phil’s friend Michael stopped by, I showed him what I had made. To my surprise he told me his mom Joan wove baskets. I knew her from Car Shows and Antiquing. She drove a 1906 Caddie and I was driving my 1970 Olds Rallye 350. We began a whole new adventure as road sisters traveling Basketry Events.
Our travels took us to many of the Shaker Museums for long weekends of weaving. Here I began to weave with the Top Basket Weavers in the country. I would weave with JoAnn Kelly Catsos; she has had Ornaments on the White House Tree and has baskets in the Smithsonian. To Lyn Schlichtling who has won International Awards. To Flo Hoppe, she is a Master of Round Reed. Then I became a student of Martha Wetherbee; she became my mentor from 95 on to today. From Martha I learned all kinds of Brown Ash Traditional Shaker Baskets, Taghkanic Baskets and Nantucket’s Baskets.
In 2002 I retired from USA and became the Fudge, Cookie and Basket Lady at Silmar Farm in Millerton NY
My guest for learning Basketry took me to NBO, where I studied with the best across the country. Traveled to State Basket Conventions, where you could weave with a different Teacher every day. Then traveled to Stowe VT every May for the International Basket Festival. There I worked in every material possible, from Bamboo, Birch Bark, Wire, Pine Needles, Willow, Ash and Reed. Over the years studied with teachers from Tokyo, Latvia, Russia, England, Canada and USA.
Then I discovered the folk schools, started going to Arrowmont and John C Campbell. During this time we made our move to TN. Here I took Master Gardner Course through UT. The next year I was mentor to Heather. She saw some of my baskets and asked to trade Baskets for a Costume 1780’s. Started teaching Basketry at Davey Crockett Park to children and adults. We worked with Home Schooled Children, Scouts and open events, where anyone who wanted to could sit down and weave a basket. Now you will find me several Saturdays a Month in the Christopher Taylor Cabin in Jonesborough. Other times you will find me in the Jonesborough Visitors Center demonstrating. To share all that I have absorbed over the years is what I want to pass on to keep Basketry alive.