Ketners’s Mill Fall Craft Show. Last Chance till Foothills Guild Fine Craft Show Nov. 18-20 in Knoxville!

What a great show yesterday  and great people!  Come out today.

Ketner’s Mill Country Arts Fair

WHEN:  Saturday, October 15, 2016 –  9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EDT
Sunday, October 16, 2016 –  10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EDT.

Last Weekend Open, Sept. 24-25! Closed Oct. 1-26 for Shows.


Last chance to visit the gallery till fall.  We have lots of new items on display, but they will be packed up next week.  See our Fall schedule below.

The weather is lovely for hiking the trails now.  Fewer bugs, too!  If you haven’t tried out our new Pipsissewa Arboretum Trail, this will be the last time till next spring that you can see the leaves for identification.  You will then have to learn to id the plants by bark and shape!  That’s also a good way to learn and there are no bugs in the winter, so be sure to visit then also.

There are lots of reasons to walk in the woods.  Don’t take your phone, and learn to hear the silence.  Walking in the woods quietly and slowly has been shown to lower stress and blood pressure, and improve general well-being.  On the other hand, if you have kids, they can get the same results by yelling as loudly as they wish!

Here is an excerpt from an article on the Japanese style of “Forest Bathing”.

forest bathing

“In Japan, it’s called “shinrin-yoku,” which translates as forest bathing. It’s the practice of immersing yourself in nature to improve your well-being.

Participants wander into the woods for a slow, mindful walk to contemplate nature with all the senses. It’s not a hike, because you don’t go far or fast.

“We walked through the woods and were just able to absorb what was surrounding us: the beauty of nature, the beauty of the world, from the smallest details, the pebbles under your feet or the branches and the bark on the trees, to how the air felt and listening to the sounds around us,” said Rona London, who participated in a forest bathing experience at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York. “It was absolutely wonderful.”

 The benefits of shinrin-yoku were formally recognized in the early 1980s by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. While it might seem obvious that a walk in the woods is good for you, there’s also research on the physiological effects showing that it can lower blood pressure, heart rates and stress hormones.”




John C. Campbell Folk School


October 1, 2016 — October 2, 2016

Carol Kimmons and Patrick Ironwood will both be showing here.

Golden fall sunlight and brightly colored leaves provide a scenic backdrop for the John C. Campbell Folk School‘s Fall Festival. This treasured annual celebration of Appalachian culture, held on the Folk School’s Brasstown, North Carolina campus, heralds its 42nd anniversary in October.
Visit over 240 fine craft exhibitors tucked along the school’s winding wooded paths. Watch more than 40 artisans demonstrate traditional and contemporary crafts. Fill your ears with bluegrass, gospel, folk, and Celtic music on both days. Tap your toes to clogging, Morris, and Garland dance performances throughout the weekend.

Oktoberfest is coming!

37th Annual Nashville Oktoberfest

Dates: October 7, 8 & 9

Celebrate the traditions of Munich Oktoberfest for 3 days in the heart of Music City!  Oktoberfest is Nashville’s oldest-running festival & has been an annual tradition since 1980.
It’s not just a beer festival! Oktoberfest has something for EVERYONE:  delicious German food from 25+ restaurants & vendors, GREAT beer from both local & German breweries, tons kids & family events, over 150 Arts & Crafts vendors, German music stages, Wiener Dog races, the 2nd largest 5K run in Tennessee – and so much more!
Join 200,000 German fans in 2016 for the greatest Oktoberfest that Nashville has ever seen!

Ketner’s Mill Country Arts Fair

WHEN:  Saturday, October 15, 2016 –  9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EDT
Sunday, October 16, 2016 –  10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EDT.



Foothills Craft Guild Annual Fine Craft Show 
3rd weekend in November

November 18 – 20, 2016
Jacob Building, Chilhowee Park; Knoxville, Tennessee

Patrick Ironwood and Carol Kimmons will both be showing.

Gallery and Trails Open this Weekend, August 13-14 with New Art!

So come on out!  If it’s too hot for hiking, it’s air conditioned in the gallery.  Come by and hang out in the Gallery library.  Check out our unique book selection, or try your hand at playing the piano!  We can  provide you with some iced drinks made with mint and herbs from the garden.  Our self-guided nature trails are on the web, or you can pick up the guides at the gallery.  We have bamboo hiking poles available as loaners, or you can take your favorite home with you for a $5 donation to SVI.

Dogwood on Cherry 17×7″

Our newest tiles were begun this spring, using the beautiful blooms of the dogwoods and other spring flowers.  Since the period of dogwood blooming is so short, we eventually had to drive up Daus Mountain to find trees that still had flowers.  This involved:  wading through roadside trash across barbed wire; balancing on the edge of a ravine in dense thorny blackberries and using a pole pruner; encountering very healthy poison ivy and dodging snakes; and washing off seed ticks on our return.  But as you can see, it was a successful trip.   This was an unusual trip, as most of the plants on the tiles come from our own forest, fields, and gardens.  There are plenty of plants to find here, with 300 acres of forest, permaculture gardens, and the seasonal high tunnel greenhouse, all protected by the Land Trust for Tennessee through a conservation easement.  Each morning I walk along our miles of trails, collecting the most perfect plants and flowers as they appear each season.


Wild Grape on Wild Cherry 8×4″

So why has it taken so long to complete the tiles?  Here is why!  I first roll out the clay and determine the spacing and design of the plants.  In the case of the dogwoods, each bloom is carefully selected and placed.  I then press the center of the bloom into the clay, and next turn the bloom over to impress the petals (note to botanists:  I know they aren’t really petals, but bracts).  The leaves and stems are carefully added and pressed in.  The tile is dried a couple of days between pieces of wall board we collect from building dumpsters.  Then I remove some of the thicker stems to prevent cracking and touch up any stray marks, turn the tiles, and paint the edges with Bravo floor wax to slow drying and cracking.  Back to the wall board.  The tiles are all stacked and covered with plastic for about 2-3 weeks.  When they reach leather hard (not dry, but stiff) I check them again.

Wild Yam on Wild Cherry Wood 18×7″


At this time I may cut the larger tiles into sections.  This prevents warping and cracks in the larger and more complex pieces during firing.  The cutting process takes several days–I choose the most artistic place for the cut, then begin the cut one day, and complete the cut in several sessions after more drying.  Finally, I uncover the tiles and allow the drying to complete under fans and ac.  I remove some of the plant parts from the clay and leave some to burn out in the kiln.  Once they are completely dry, we place them in the kiln (Johnny’s job), on top of creek sand to allow for movement and prevent cracking.  Each tile is placed separately. The kiln is pre-heated then slow fired up to about 1800 degrees, then slow cooled. This takes about 24 hours.  Tiles are removed when cool and scrubbed to remove the ashes of the remaining plant material (J’s job).  I make a mixture of various natural mineral oxides, mainly iron and copper, with water and fine clays and paint this onto the tiles.  I wipe off the excess with sponges and cloths, leaving the oxides to emphasize the patterns of the plants. This is a LOT harder than it sounds! I end up spending some late nights listening to Hoopla detective stories to finish this.

Once I am happy with the stains, the tiles are ready to go back in the kiln.  The kiln (electric for this kind of work) is slowly heated to about 2200 degrees and then slow cooled, and opened when the temp reaches about 100 degrees.  This takes about 24 hours from start to finish.  We open the kiln to see if Santa has brought toys or coal…….Occasionally we have a crack or warping that means we can’t use the tile–very sad.

Dogwood Blooms on Wild Cherry Wood  12 x 7″
Wild Grape on Wild Cherry wood 24 x 4″

Next, we are ready to mount the tiles.  Johnny looks them over, then goes to the sawmill to find artistic and unique wood that suits each tile. All the wood comes from dead or fallen trees on our land.  The gallery furniture is made from a tulip poplar that fell on one of our houses!  In the case of the spring dogwood tiles, Johnny found a gorgeous piece of old wild cherry that came from a huge dead tree up near our bluffs. The center of the log provided beautiful wood for making into furniture, and the intricate patterns of the outside slabs were perfect for the dogwoods!  Johnny cuts the boards at the sawmill, planes them in the shop, and carefully selects the best piece for each individual tile.  He lays out the pattern and cuts out the piece.  He then finishes each piece using a sander and carving tools.  Next he glues on each tile in the exact position he has designed.  He makes hangers from copper wire and screws them onto the back, balancing the tile perfectly. He finishes the wood by rubbing in 2 coats of Danish Oil, from Highlands Hardware in Atlanta.  I print off labels for each tile, describing the plant and, often, its importance.  Johnny uses decoupage glue to attach the labels.  As the final touch, he labels the type of wood using a drawing pen.

Dogwood on Wild Cherry wood 15 x 7″









Now the tile is ready to be displayed!  So come and see the final result–and take one home to add a part of nature to your walls!

Dogwood Blossoms on Wild Cherry Wood 19 x 7″
Wild Grape on Wild Cherry Wood 9 x 4″

Gallery and Trails Open Today and Sunday, August 6-7

The rain has brought some relief from the heat, and the forest is still cool in the mornings, so come out and try the trails.  We are going to be preparing for the Fall Season Craft Shows this month so new items will be coming from the kiln.  Michelle has some of her newest work on display also.


Come and enjoy our art and nature! Patricks kaleidoscopes and sculptural art are back in the gallery this month, so come see them!

Gallery and Trails Open July 2 and 3.

Come and try out the new Pipsissewa Arboretum Trail!  Patrick has lots of beautiful new kaleidoscopes ready to go and dogwood decorated pottery is on the shelves.  Bring a picnic for a pre 4th party!2014-11-13 17.08.40.jpg2014-11-13 17.04.56.jpgoptical.jpg

It’s Food for Life Time Again! June 24-26

The gallery and trails will be closed to the public June 25-26 during this event.  Come join us at Food for LIfe!

FFL 2016 poster

18th Annual

Food for Life Conference

At Sequatchie Valley Institute

Near Dunlap, TN

June 24-26, 2016

 Join us for a family friendly festival about healthy food a short drive from Chattanooga, TN.  As an act of community, perched on the canyon walls of the ancient Cumberland Plateau, we will connect and open to the flow of energy that we all call food.  Most workshops will take place outdoors amid forest and gardens.  Rustic camping included!

Workshops include:

The Art of Fermentation.  Be a part of the fermentation revival! Learn to ferment healthful foods like sauerkraut, kefir, & kim chi at home.

Plant walks discovering uses of our local plants.

Health and Nutrition:  Joel Kimmons PhD, CDC    Nutritionist

Permaculture gardening & edible landscaping.

An outdoor kids’ program including adventurous eating, composting, hikes, games, theater, and more.

 Mushroom Cultivation, including shiitakes, winecaps, and more!

Food Preservation:  Canning, freezing, and drying

Cooking with wood:  Dutch ovens, wood cook stoves, and outdoor clay ovens.

Organic grain farming.

Butchering your own healthy meat.

Kitchen skills and cooking basics

Brewing—sodas, meads, wine and liqueurs

Tours of our hand-built solar homes, with emphasis on sustainable living.

Theater, live music, and delicious local food!

The program is intentionally affordable with an income-based sliding scale for the three-day event of $100-$200.  Saturday only:  $40-$100. Children under 9 yrs free, 10-16 yrs $10-$40/day. Prices include lovingly prepared nutritious meals, admission to workshops and children’s programs, and rustic camping. SVI members receive a 10% discount. We are a non-profit 501 (c) (3) educational organization, and proceeds help cover the costs of this and future educational event.  Work trade is available.  Please contact us for details ASAP.  Local nutritious and ethically sound food trade or donations are encouraged.

You may register online at; call 423-949-5922/4598; or email SVI is located between Dunlap and Whitwell, 1233 Cartwright Loop, Whitwell, TN 37397;

Facebook Sequatchie Valley Institute/Events Valley Institute


Find a Mug for Father’s Day!

Or a fabulous kaleidoscope!  Yes, the kaleidoscopes are back!  Along with all of Patrick’s amazing jewelry and sculpture.  Carol has new bird feeders, plates, and mugs decorated from this spring’s lovely dogwood flowers.  We have new paintings by Michelle, also.  We will be open this weekend, but are a bit disorganized, as we are busy preparing for Food for Life, which begins Friday, June 24. The gallery and trails will be open only for Food for Life participants June 25-26, but we’ll be back to normal hours July 2-3.   Remember, you can always call if you wish to come another time.