February 21, 2017
- Dovetailed Tool Tote
- Birch, Bark & Antler: Decorative Handles for the Nordic Kitchen
Feb 28-March 2
- Piece by Piece: Laminated Pizza Peels and Cutting Boards
- Turning the Wooden Bowl: Women’s Session
March 31-April 2
There is still a lot of winter left in Grand Marais. Though the official start of spring is next month, around here, winter still has a couple of months to go. This means there is still time to enjoy some outdoor winter activities like cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. There is also time to enjoy the great indoors, at North House Folk School.
“Our campus is right on the harbor and our students spend a lot of time looking out the window at the harbor and the big lake,” said Program Director Jessa Frost. “It is a very cozy time of the year to be here. Other times, you might be doing more outdoor things. Making crafts is a great reason to be here in the winter months.”
The word is out about these classes. So, many of the classes in the next couple of months are already full. But, the school has a lot of classes and as of the writing of this blog there are still many to choose from. They all require time and patience and some are a good workout.
“The blacksmithing classes definitely takes some physical ability,” said Jessa.
A lot of this effort involves slamming down hard on a hot piece of metal, in the traditional way without the use of a power hammer. Jessa says that the only thing modern in these classes that is a couple of the forges use propane instead of coal. Some of the available classes scheduled through April are: “Blacksmithing the Basics and Beyond,” “Blacksmithing: Crafting the Tools of the Trade,” and “Tool-making for Wood Workers and Others.” This last class is also a good workout for the mind.
“They get really deep into steel science and how to make tools out of old files and how you can create really nice woodworking tools without having to buy them all,” said Jessa.
While the blacksmithing instructors avoid using recent labor-saving inventions, their woodworking and furniture making colleagues are known to compromise somewhat in this area. In many of these classes, students use power saws to make most of the cuts and hand tools for assembly. Some of the classes still available in the next couple months are: “Dovetailed Tool Tote,” “Birch, Bark & Antler: Decorative Handles for the Nordic Kitchen,” “Piece by Piece: Laminated Pizza Peels and Cutting Boards,” and “Turning the Wooden Bowl: Women’s Session.”
Woodcarving is the type of craft that takes a lot of time, but isn’t super physically demanding. These sorts of crafts were once key to giving one something to do during the long winters.
“A lot of these traditions come from work that was done in front of the fire, just to keep your hands busy or to embellish other sorts of functional items,” said Jessa. “Woodcarving goes way back and it is work that is intended to be done with conversation and with other people.”
Although the only woodcarving course still open during the next couple of months is “Embellishment Techniques for Wood,” you can always get on the wait list for a number of classes, during a weekend you might be able to make it.
While all the courses mentioned so far are indoors, on March 23rd through 25th, the school is taking students on a field trip outside. During “Grand Marais & Beyond: Exploring The Art Of Black & White Photography in Winter” class there will still be enough ice coating the trees and the rocks and branches to capture the essence of the landscape’s shade without its color.
People sometimes ask Jessa why a traditional craft school teaches photography classes like this. To Jessa it comes down to observing and understanding the surrounding environment. This comes in handy, especially during the warmer months when there are more outdoor activities, like harvesting birch bark for crafts.
“This gives people an excuse to be outside and in the environment while paying very close attention and that in itself is a craft,” said Jessa.