The American folk school tradition began in early 1900’s in Southern Appalachia.  John C. Campbell, founder of the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina, brought the concept over from Denmark.  In Denmark, “these schools for life had helped transform the countryside into a vibrant, creative force.” Campbell hoped that in the Appalachian region, “the quality of life could be improved by education, and in turn, wanted to preserve and share with the rest of the world the wonderful crafts, techniques and tools that mountain people used in every day life.” (See the John C. Campbell Folk School website:

Over time, folk schools have been founded in many parts of the United States.  Many have been around for decades, including the North House Folk School in Minnesota, the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina.

The Arbutus Folk School strives to become the heart of Pacific Northwest craft just as these schools have been in their regions for generations.  Our goal is to elevate the craft economy by supporting the highest quality of craft instruction, growing access to hand-crafted items and identifying and preserving craft culture, especially (though not exclusively) craft culture and design that has evolved out of the Pacific Northwest region.  Our programming is intended to support skills individuals seek to make useful and beautiful crafts for their own use, personal enrichment, or artistic endeavors, rather than being driven by industry vocation or trade standards.