Frank Soos was the 2015 Alaska State Laureate Writer and instructed creative writing at the University of Alaska Fairbanks for nearly two decades. Frank was author of several books, including several Bamboo Fly Rod Suite (essays) and a book of essays from the University of Washington Press.
Brian Sprague is a lifelong woodworker and hand tool enthusiast. Brought up in rural Michigan, his occupations have ranged from white collar engineer to aircraft mechanic to fuels crew sawyer, and counting. He is particularly fond of tree work and began running a saw at the age of 12 (It was a Stihl.).
Marianne was born and raised in Germany where she completed a wood carving apprenticeship. Her passion for mountains and ice climbing brought her to Alaska in 1985. She now works as a professional wood carver, ice carver and artist.
I have always loved airplanes and I also like making them. I spent some time with a friend who helped me with my first glider and since then I have made quite a number of airplanes, some of them with R/C controls in them. I also like teaching people skills that I learn.
Christin Swearingen is a volunteer mycologist for the Fungal Diversity Survey. She has degrees in Biology and Environmental Studies from Oberlin College, and earned a master’s degree from UAF from 2013-2016. There she learned mushroom identification from the esteemed mycologist Dr. Gary Laursen. She works at the Northern Alaska Environmental Center and Interior Alaska Land Trust to protect habitat for all types of wildlife, including fungi.
Sara has been making prints for quite some time! She has a MFA in printmaking from the University of Nebraska and has taught printmaking to ages kindergarten through college. She’s excited about The Folk School’s new location and hopes to help grow a print shop around the press that Bill Brody donated. Look for more printmaking classes ahead. We can talk about what you are interested in to plan for future classes.
I am a lifelong Alaskan growing up first in several remote villages and then in a roadhouse on the Alaska Highway. My education was in biology and zoology, but then I discovered horticulture, which lead to a career of building and operating two greenhouse businesses in the Fairbanks area, first Tacks’ General Store and then The Plant Kingdom. One of my favorite parts of the greenhouse business is designing hanging baskets and porch planters, and over the years both of these business locations became known for these container plantings. Combining the beautiful colors and textures of flowering plants in containers and growing them in the unique magic of Alaskan summer light is definitely one of the most inspiring opportunities I have had. I passed The Plant Kingdom to a new owner a few years ago. Now I have a small research greenhouse near my home here in Fairbanks, where I continue to experiment with container combinations, trial perennials, and develop perennial display gardens. I also teach classes in horticulture and garden design. My book, Northern Garden Symphony: Combining Hardy Perennials for Blooms All Season, was just released in May of this year.
Julianne has authored an intellectual biography, Aldo Leopold’s Odyssey, developing this influential U.S. conservationist’s ‘land health’ concept. It is one that resists industrial-capitalist assumptions and practices, yet not settler colonial and white supremacist ones. In a new collaborative project that is centered by Indigenous colleagues’ insights, Julianne is sounding out troubling details in Leopoldian inheritances. Looking back, she is self-critiquing her complicity. To listen, in this case, is to explicitly refuse—and, to suggest protocols for refusing—oppressive proposals of her birth-cultural ancestors with commitment to anti-racism and decolonizing alternative futures.. You can learn more about this and Julianne’s other work here: theunfallensilent.org
I have been removing problem trees professionally since 1996. I have also been an educator since 1996.
I have designed and built furniture for 30 years. Since 1994, I have owned and operated Blackstone Design, a furniture/woodworking studio in Anchorage, Alaska. The majority of my work is private commissions, but I also exhibit in shows and galleries around Alaska and occasionally nationwide. I have received awards in juried exhibits, and have a piece in the collection of the Anchorage Museum. I was awarded commissions in municipal, state, and federal public art projects around the state and have received grants from the Alaska State Council on the Arts and The Rasmuson Foundation.
I am interested in nearly everything, especially the old crafts where you get to make something. Thus, it was probably only natural that I took up birch bark basket weaving some years back (along with a gazillion others – blacksmithing, book binding, sewing winter gear, carving, rosemaling, woodworking, wheelwrighting, coopering, knitting socks, and now starting to learn shoemaking – the list could go on, but you get the idea). From there it was a short step to sharing the joy of creating things by teaching others how to do the same. I’ve been teaching much of my life, recently “retired” as a professor in the rather more modern craft of aircraft maintenance. As I put it, I failed the retirement class and spend time both at the University and sharing the fun of learning new skills. To stay well rounded and to keep from getting too bored, I also enjoy flying my airplane that I built from scratch, cross country skiing, bicycling, farming, crossing the ocean on an old square rigged sailing vessel and once in a while I even sit down and read a book.
Susan Willsrud is a co-founder of Calypso Farm and Ecology Center. She loves growing vegetables and also loves creating beautiful warm things out of the mountains of wool provided by the farm’s flock of Shetland Sheep! She has been spinning yarn for over 10 years and has been drawn to “seeing what happens when you break all the rules” since the beginning.
Dave is an amateur artist and tinkerer who has been making sculptures in wood, ceramic, glass, ice, and snow for many decades. Like most folk craftspeople, Dave is interested in doing interesting stuff efficiently with cheap local materials, which in Fairbanks means snow, ice, wooden poles, and anything that can be scrounged at the transfer site.
Jeff blames his obsession with experimental hunting and gathering on having to read Hatchet in sixth grade. Twelve years after moving to Alaska, his mind is never far from the boreal forest. He has spent a year alone on the Tanana River endeavoring to make all his food, shelter, tools, and clothing from the land. Lately he has been working on a walking trap-line based around deadfalls and sinew snares. Jeff earns money seasonally by leading a chainsaw crew. Most importantly, he is lucky to be partnered with an extremely understanding wife.
Dog mushing initially brought Molly to Alaska. She has since discovered the thrill of skijoring and can now be found touring the trails around Fairbanks towed behind just one or two dogs. She is excited to introduce other people and dogs to the joys of skijoring and the abundance of winter trails in Fairbanks.
Tom is a co-founder of Calypso Farm and Ecology Center. He loves working with his hands – whether it be shearing sheep, building farm outbuildings, designing greenhouses, irrigation systems or tinkering in Calypso’s blacksmith shop. He loves sharing his knowledge and skills with others. He began teaching at age 16 and has been teaching in one way or another ever since. He is one of the primary instructors of Calypso’s workshops and Farmer Training Program.
John is a custom woodworker from Anchorage, Alaska. He specializes in making tools for spinning, weaving, cord-making and other fiber arts.
John has been doing fiber arts in various form for most of his life and since becoming a professional tool
maker has been surrounded by fiber arts nearly non-stop for the last 8 years. He likes to help people find crafts
that let them both relax and express themselves.