Meet Our Instructors

John Alexander: Appalachian Craft

John Alexander was born in Rockbridge Co, Virginia and raised on a small beef farm where self sufficiency was expected. He grew up during the 50s and 60s where he was able to observe and participate in old timey ways that were still being practiced then. 

He served in the US Navy from 1970 to 1975. John graduated from Berea College in 1978 with a degree in Elementary Education and also studied broom craft. He worked in rural school systems until recent retirement, where he taught and served as teacher and principal. John was able to incorporate crafts and traditional skills into many lessons. He served as Director of Presbyterian Childrens Home for 16 years in Lynchburg, Virginia, a program which was licensed to serve 60 wonderful children at a time. 

John has conducted a variety of Appalachian Craft Workshops for all ages and skills; broom making, baskets, toys, and more. He is married to Susan McGuffin, also of Rockbridge Co, and they have six children, all of whom make “things”.  


Cheryl Bess: Potter

Cheryl Bess has recently moved back to her home in Crockett, Virginia from Somerset, Kentucky. She is a member of the Sheltowee Artisans Guild. She had a pottery shop at the Carnegie Community Arts Center in Somerset with her partner Rhonda Wilford, aka Pottery Pals. Cheryl has demonstrated and worked in various art fairs.

Since moving back to Crockett she has taught pottery basics at The Rose Cottage in Wytheville. Cheryl likes to work in both stoneware clay and porcelain. She is excited to return home and begin working and teaching in the pottery studio at The Henderson.

Her passions include pottery and all things Horse. Cheryl and her husband Tim recently welcomed their first grandchild, Jack Vogel. Their daughter Emily and her husband Doug live in Oak Harbor, WA.


Michael Brewer: Luthier

Michael Brewer was a student at Liberty University studying to be a guidance counselor and works full time for VDOT. 

Michael will be teaching our Beginning Lutherie workshops for middle school students and helps keep the wood shop and Gerald Anderson Lutherie in order. He is also one of our Junior Appalachian Musicians instructors, teaching banjo, guitar and bass.


Deborah Clark: Journalist

Deborah Tilson Clark, a native of Smyth County who now resides in Grayson, retired from teaching to focus on her writing career; she has one book in print, is a regular contributor to area newspapers, and does professional editing and technical writing. She is also a textiles artisan who learned to do “handwork” from her mother, aunts, and great-aunts. She has been active in handspinning, weaving, quilting, and felting. She makes and sells not only “sock monkeys” but other, original sock critters as well.


Deb is a juried member of Holston Mountain Artisans. She was a founding member of Grayson County Artisans, and of Broomsage Writers and of Ridgeline Writers. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Chestnut Creek School of the Arts in Galax and of Holston Mountain. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in English from Berea College (Kentucky). Her writing awards include the Sherwood Anderson Creative Writing Award. 



Terry Clark, Woodworker

Terry Clark has been a professional woodturner for 35 years. His turnings are from wood cut in Grayson County, Virginia and are mostly made from walnut, cherry and maple although any wood with an interesting grain pattern is fair game! He is a self-taught woodturner with a degree in Industrial Arts from Berea College in Berea, Kentucky.

Named for a nearby mountain, Three Peaks Crafts features Terry’s woodturning. Visitors can purchase works and see work in progress. This studio is a trail site of the Woven Mountains and River Bend Artisan Trail in Grayson County, and a member of ‘Round the Mountain Artisan Network. 


Roberta Durham: Paper Artist

Roberta Durham is a Chicago native that now lives in Troutdale, Virginia. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Oklahoma. 

Roberta has worked as an art teacher, pre-school through high school, and, for thirty years, with adults that have developmental disabilities. She is currented learning Letterpress skills at The Henderson while volunteering as an assistant art teacher at Piney Creek School in North Carolina. 

Roberta designed and built a cabin, using mostly hand tools. She currently lives with her husband in a handmade, solar powered house. They have a large, year-round garden where they grow most of their food.