we’ll put some bleachers out in the sun and have it on highway 61

I only have a few photos for this post – I was too busy to shoot much…

I just got back from teaching two classes at North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minnesota. http://www.northhouse.org/index.htm   Being thrown into an immersion experience like that at North House reminds me of my beginnings at Country Workshops in the 1980s.

One focus at North House is community, and it is quite palpable. The legendary pizza night, centered around the large wood-fired oven, and finely honed through years of practice is a memorable experience. The classes I was there to teach were part of “Wood Week” which as you can imagine means all the classes offered that week (8 in all) were woodworking. Other disciplines at North House include fiber arts, blacksmithing, food, boatbuilding and more.

All the students in my first class were named Tom. I think. Made it easier…

With three classes at the first session, and five the next, there was no shortage of inspiration, nor of comrades. The evenings were spent in large and small groups exploring spoon and bowl carving, looking at and trying out new tools, techniques, benches and materials. It seems that almost everyone (except me) also plays a musical instrument, so the spoon carving circles were on the periphery of the old-timey music circles. There was much overlap. The best nights ran much later than I could handle.

All the while, Lake Superior was right there, outside the shop windows, and lapping at the courtyard between the buildings. It’s a pretty big lake, I hear. Looked it.

I’m liking these large-group gatherings. Last year I went to three of them, Greenwood Fest in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Spoonfest in Edale, UK and Täljfest at Sätergläntan in Sweden. This one had a smaller crowd, but that lent it an intimacy that was nice. I still missed stuff – I got no photographs of the other classes, and few of my own.

Jarrod trying out Dawson Moore’s Spoon Mule:

Tom Dengler kept distracting me with his woodenware:

one of the oak carvings the students did…

I caught up with some old friends, and made some new. Like the other events, this one is run by many hands, including a group of young interns. Nice to see these young people exploring some type of creative outlet involving natural materials. There were a smattering of young people in the classes too, but no group gets higher marks than Spoonfest for adding youth and women to the woodworking community.

These creatures were more common than squirrels.

I had a day off early on, and took a long walk in a state park about half-an-hour away. If this tree were closer to the school, someone would have nabbed it by now…

North House is celebrating their twentieth year – get on their mailing list so you can be a part of their 2nd-double-decade.

Some of the many people there, apologies for not including everyone – there was a lot happening:

Jarrod Dahl, https://www.instagram.com/jarrod__dahl/

Roger Abrahamson,  https://www.instagram.com/rogerabrahamson/

Fred Livesay,  https://www.instagram.com/hand2mouthcrafts/

Phil Odden & Else Bigton  http://www.norskwoodworks.com/

Harley Refsal  http://www.northhouse.org/courses/courses/instructor.cfm/iid/86

Dawson Moore  https://www.instagram.com/michigansloyd/

Tom & Kitty Latane https://www.facebook.com/thomas.latane

Tom Dengler https://www.instagram.com/twodengler/

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Bowl class, tip of the iceberg

For decades I have worked wood surrounded by people – dozens, scores, hundreds, thousands of people. But in one sense, I work wood primarily in isolation. All these people were visitors to the museum, so watching me work. In many cases, I met woodworkers of all stripes, but it was very hit-or-miss.  I just finished my most recent stint as a student, rather than instructor, this time in Robin Wood’s bowl turning class at the North house Folk school. This is the sort of inspiring time I remember back when I was a regular student in classes, mostly at Drew Langsner’s Country Workshops – to be surrounded by people who’ve come from all over, to concentrate on learning, sharing and exploring aspects of hand-tool woodworking. What a time! North House Folk School has a great reputation, for good reason. Excellent facility, setting, people, and offerings. Look at the range of classes… http://www.northhouse.org/

 

 

I knew it was going to be great to meet Robin and learn of the bowl turning work he’s been practicing all these years. But there was way more to it than that. First of all, Jarrod Stonedahl helped organize  and execute the class. He and Roger Abrahamson built the lathes for example. (links: http://www.rogerabrahamson.com/index.html and http://woodspiritgallery.com/ )
But it was the whole scene that served to keep us occupied.  Birch was the standard timber available up there, but Jarrod could not let the bark just be hewn away, so -quick – a lesson in harvesting birch bark. Later he showed me how to cut the arrow-lock/finger joints that he uses in his “boxes” – one of which we’ve had at home for quite some time.

 

Roger has been a pole-lathe bowl turner himself for many years, and had once visited my shop at Plimoth. He made a couple of bowls, traipsed around the shop helping people and generally sharing his skills. same with Jarrod.

 

But of course, Robin was the show – his teaching style is just what you’d expect, based on the writings on his blog. Extremely knowledgeable, patient, and helpful. His English was pretty good too. Axe work, bowl turning, tool making, bowl design, history – we covered a lot of ground.

An added bonus was the spoons there – I brought a couple but really the star there was far and away the youngster Jojo Wood. More on that later.

The facility was excellent – windows on three sides looking out to Lake Superior. It was a pretty big lake. I didn’t really have the time or the money for this class, but had decided that I have let a few opportunities go by in recent years, and this one I drew the line. I’m glad I did.

Here’s some photos – If I tell you all about it, I’ll be here all night. I’ll use captions. 

 

grand marais harbor
socked in fog, first 3 days. 

 

robin turning
Robin shows us how it’s done

 

robin turning 3
Robin turning

 

class at work
we get at it, Jojo hews spoons

 

lathe
simple lathe

 

lathe 2
tool rest view
inspiration 1
inspiration was everywhere
inspiration 2
detail of Robin’s bowl
inspiration 3
beech bowl
first or second
my chamfer is OK
inside bowl
Robin hollowing
inspiration 4
an old one Roger brought to show us
roger
Roger said it felt like work, but he does it w ease
jarrod
after helping people all day, Jarrod couldn’t wait to make a bowl
jarrod peels fast
Jarrod peels bark fast
jarrod peels fast 2
This was too thick, but I’d never seen it done before

 

 

birch work
a sample Jarrod showed me on
sunshine
sun came out day 4
sunshine 2
the big lake they call….
inspiration 6
This looks like one of Jarrod’s
banjo gig
Jarrod, Jeremy, and Roger on banjo
jojo hews
Jojo 10 spoons a week