Natalie was born in Fairbanks and raised on her parents’ homestead in Salcha between the Piledriver Slough and the Tanana River. Childhood winters meant mushing and reading by gas lights, summers meant being outside more than in, and autumn meant berry picking until snow forced her inside. She has lived all over the country, including Dallas, New Orleans, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Because the boreal forest is imprinted on her soul, she made her way back to Fairbanks and plans on staying forever. Since moving back to Alaska, she has recovered her childhood love of cross-country skiing, berry picking, and generally getting lost in the woods. She loves all things folksy and is passionate about learning how to make things by hand in the old ways. Natalie has an art degree from UAF and is a work-at-home printmaking artist and mother. She lives in Goldstream Valley with her husband Gabe and her two sons, Charlie and Ole.
Megan Schulze is the business owner and full time farmer behind Frontieress Farm. With sustainablity at heart, she strives to feed both body and soul with the growth of local produce while exploring and delving deep into the beautiful world of specialty cut flowers. She dedicates a portion of her field to being harvested and dried into material used for artistic, handmade crafts that endure well past the short Alaskan growing season. Visit http://www.frontieressfarm.com for more information.
Sönna is a knitting instructor, tech editor and knitwear designer. She has worked and taught at yarn shops in Fairbanks and Seattle and her classes are now offered virtually. You can learn more about Sönna by following her on Instagram, Ravelry and subscribing to her website at http://www.sundaughterknits.com.
Christie is an avid knitter, fiber enthusiast and one of the farmers at Calypso Farm and Ecology Center. She has been teaching knitting and other fiber arts at Calypso for several years.
Karen Sherwood began her basket weaving journey creating purposeful containers useful for wilderness survival. The materials she used were efficiently prepared after gathered from forests or field. Over the last 35 years Karen’s understanding of natural materials along with her refinement of weaving techniques has allowed a greater understanding of the enormous skill possessed by early basket makers. She carries a passion for exploring historic basketry techniques and styles and brings this to her work, in part, by harvesting and preparing her own materials.
My commitment for weaving “working” baskets remains strong, however, I realize clearly that basket making is an evolution, a fluid process where we weave a part of ourselves into each piece. We try to understand a basket’s history while creating something unique and personal. With connections to the plants and their remarkable uses, and gratitude for the linage that brought the understanding of weaving forward, each project becomes a unique blend of past and present. It is with this vision we hope to honor the plants and the traditions they have grown from to give insight to, not only the past, but how it can illuminate our future.
Karen teaches ethnobotany programs with the Washington State Department of Ecology. She leads online and in-person classes sharing over 40 years of experience teaching the identification and traditions surrounding of wild edible and medicinal plants. Karen leads basketry classes throughout the country and as well as other earth centered programs through Earthwalk Northwest, a wilderness school she co-founded and directs.
Mary Shields has delighted in waking up out in the wild country, having traveled there with the help of her small but faithful team of huskies. Now at age 74 , Mary’s body has given up, but her Spirit stills yearns to be on the long, Spring trails. She shares some of the joys of those trails, nearly 50 years worth, in her six books and one PBS featured program, and in over 40 years sharing her “Tails of the Trail,” with visitors to Fairbanks. Perhaps a better title for this class would be Robert Service’s line from The Spell of the Yukon; “The Freshness, the Freedom, the Farness, oh God how I’m stuck on it all”.
I have been working with clay since my early college years and continue to be fascinated by the limitless possibilities it presents to the artist, craftsperson or hobbyist. I continually seek to push my own limits with clay and enjoy sharing basic wheel throwing skills with curious students.
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.