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”.
Charles is a lifelong Fairbanksan. He has lived on Ester Dome since 1969, and has been working wood since the early 70’s. He says he is still actively learning because there is so much to know, and he feels he has barely scratched the surface of woodworking.
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 is the 2015 Alaska State Laureate Writer and instructed creative writing at the University of Alaska Fairbanks for nearly two decades. Frank is author of several books, including several Bamboo Fly Rod Suite (essays) and a forthcoming 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.).
Marly Stasi has been working in early childhood education for over ten years. She received her Montessori Assistants to Infancy (birth-3 years) diploma from The Montessori Institute in Denver, CO and her masters in early childhood education from Loyola University in Maryland. She is an advocate for positive parent-child communication, a toddler whisperer, and an avid crafter, making homemade learning material from her cabin in Goldstream Valley. A recent Alaska transplant, she grew up in New Jersey and has slowly moved west living in Colorado and Wyoming.
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.
Connie Stricks has lived in Fairbanks since 1972. She has offered book binding workshops through The Folk School, The Northwoods Book Arts Guild in Fairbanks, and the Newport Paper & Book Arts Festival in Oregon.
Christin Swearingen has been fascinated by fungi since she was six years old. 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. Currently she volunteers for the Fungal Diversity Survey, curates a personal fungarium, and works at the 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.
Corlis Taylor recently retired after a 40 year career in healthcare. Corlis is a wife, mother, quilter, water colorist, and book artist. She began her first books in 2007 while taking at UAF from Margo Klass. Corlis has been making, learning and teaching book arts ever since. Corlis is a founding member of the Northwoods Book Arts Guild.
Ashley Thayer began her journey as a bookmaker 5 years ago and quickly developed a passion for historical techniques and structures. When not working in her studio, she enjoys spending time with her family and daydreaming of far away places.
Harvey Van Patten
Harvey holds a BS in Science Education and has 9 years of experience as a classroom teacher in public schools systems in Michigan and Oregon. He has 20 years of experience teaching “Twigology”. Harvey is also a dog musher and enjoys taking long distance trips annually in the Yukon and Northwest Territories.
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, published by University of Alaska Press, is scheduled for release May 15 of 2021.
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 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.
Roy is a master sheet metal fabricator with over 50 years of experience and loves passing this knowledge on to others . Weather you refer to Roy as a tinker, tin smith or sheet metal worker the underlying magic is he can see a complex three dimensional object in a flat piece of sheet metal and know just what cuts to make, where to bend it and in what sequence. Another benefit of hanging around with him is he knows Fairbanks history better than most. Not only can he tell you stories from his grandfathers time but he can point to objects all over his shop from that time period. Roy is a fascinating character and a rich source of information.