Friday, February 10, 2017

What's Raspberry Island Folk School?




Hello! We are Gary and Janet Hill, the only human residents of Raspberry Island on beautiful, historic Big Sandy Lake, about 2 1/4 hours straight north of the Twin Cities. (For more information about life on Raspberry Island, see http://raspberryisland.blogspot.com/)

Because we run our folk school from our home, visitors are welcome **by prior arrangement only**, by calling Gary at 218.851.6085 or Janet at 218.259.4090. Classes are held only from May to September; there are no winter classes. Thanks!  



We started offering summertime classes in blacksmithing and pottery on the island several years ago, mainly taught by Gary himself. Over the years, we've expanded our offerings to workshops taught by well-known and sought-after instructors in the folk arts. Our mission is to bring low-cost, high quality instruction in the traditional folk arts to our community and beyond.  
 
Class offerings and sign-up information are provided below. We look forward to having you join us for an art and nature break!









Spring and Summer Workshops 2018

Spring and summer 2018 we'll be offering the following workshops (and more -- keep checking back for updates) by these top-notch instructors:

Forging a Door Knocker Scroll  (A great class for learning ornamentation) 

Instructor: Tom Latané  

May 22, 23, 24 (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday)  

Tom writes, "Students will learn a number of decorative techniques to apply to a basic scroll shaped door knocker. They will forge a snub end scroll at the lower end of the stock above which they will hot-chase a bead. This bead will be divided into rope segments cold, after the scroll has been given its final shape. In the center of the bar will be forged and filed a lamb’s tongue profile. There will be a demonstration of cold chasing a leaf in this mass. The upper half of the bar will be chased with ribs on the front below and the back above, so that they appear continuous when the scroll is rolled.  There will be a boss forged against which the knocker will strike and a clevis hinge, half of which will be mortised through the upper scroll. A single escutcheon may be forged for the knocker or separate escutcheons for the boss and hinge elements.

Depending on the proficiency of the student it may be necessary to choose between chasing the leaf or forging the hinge or boss."

Course fee: $225 plus materials fee of $10-15
Limited to 10 students.
Some forging experience recommended. 
Meal cost is extra: see registration form


Band Weaving on a Simple Rigid Heddle Loom  

Instructor: Kitty Latané  

May 23-24 (Wednesday-Thursday)  

People all over the world weave narrow bands and ribbons as fasteners and adornment. In this class we will follow the Norwegian tradition using several methods to produce bands with beautiful patterns. Bring your own loom if you have one; there will be simple looms available (not the one shown) for purchase for $20-$30).

Instructor Kitty Latané learned to use the rigid heddle loom with a backstrap with Reggie Britton at the Vesterheim Museum.

Course fee: $75 (includes weaving fiber and borrowed shuttle and backstrap)
Bring loom or purchase from instructor  Limited to 6 students (minimum 3)
Meal cost is extra: see registration form


Forging a Campfire Cooking Tripod and Hooks 

Instructor: Gary Hill 

Saturday May 26, 9:00 AM-4:00 PM 

A blacksmithing class in forging a campfire tripod from which to suspend pans from an adjustable pot hook. No previous forging experience required.

What to bring: Bag lunch, safety glasses, boots, ear protection, leather gloves and cotton clothing.

Course fee: $40 (includes all materials)
High School Students are FREE!
Limited to 6 students





A Beginner's Class in Forging Pattern-Welded ("Damascus") Steel  

Instructor: Jeff Harper  

June 2-3 (Saturday-Sunday) 

THIS CLASS IS FULL 

This two-day introductory class will take you through the basics of pattern welded/Damascus steel to make either a blade or small tool. On the first day, using high carbon steel, we will focus on material preparation, and will forge-weld a small billet by hand. Our subsequent larger billets will be done with the help of the power hammer. Pattern manipulations such as random and twist will be followed by raindrop and ladder as student proficiency allows. In the evening we will go into forge welding billets of steel cable and chain.

Day two will consist of shaping, polishing, heat treatment, and etching. We will also be continuing work begun the previous day.

Students will go home with a couple of billets of their own creation to use in other courses and projects, as well as the knowledge to make more.

Course fee: $150 plus materials fee $15-20
Limited to 8 students. (This class is full)
No forging experience required.
Meal cost is extra: see registration form


Beginner and Intermediate Wheel-Thrown Pottery 

Instructor: Gary Hill 

Six sessions: Wednesday mornings 9:30-12.00: June 6, 13, 20, 27 and July 11 and 18th 

Wheel Pottery Class for all ages. Learn to throw your first mugs, bowls, vases etc. or get back into it if you have thrown pots in the past. Course fees includes 25 pounds of clay and over 100 combinations of glazes. All tools and firings are provided. No experience required. Electric wheels and one kick wheel available.

What to bring: Old clothes, old towel, clay tools if you have them

Course fee: $10/session, must register for all six sessions, at $60/person.
High School students 14 years and older are FREE!
Limited to 4 students


Open Pottery Studio 

Instructor: Gary Hill 

Dates arranged on an individual basis, limited to 6 sessions. For those with prior wheel experience or hand building experience who don't have a wheel or kiln or slab roller at home and would like to make some pots. No class structure, minimal instruction as needed, no requirements: just open studio time to throw or hand build. We will bisque fire and glaze fire your work after you have glazed your pieces.

What to bring: Old clothes, old towel, clay tools if you have them
Course fee: $10/session, plus pay for your own clay at $15 for a 25 lb. bag (or bring your own clay). High School Students 14 years and older are FREE!

Big Sandy Water Institute (Ages 12-18 only) Primitive Pottery Using Local Clay

Instructor: Gary Hill 

Six sessions:  Wednesday afternoons June 6, 13, 20, 27 and July 11 and 18th, 1:30 PM- 4:00 PM 

The ability to make one's own vessels for food and drink is a useful craft that has been practiced by the early native people who lived on Sandy Lake hundreds of years ago. Evidence of early pottery vessels shows up on the shores of the lake even today. Natural clay found on the shores of Sandy Lake was used for many centuries by those who lived here long before us. Students will be introduced to the basic techniques of throwing clay on the wheel and slab rolling to make functional ware, trimming, firing and glazing their own pieces using natural clay.  Sandy Lake clay will be harvested from the earth and used to throw some basic bowls or mugs.

Be ready to go at our dock at 50569 218th Place, McGregor (Big Sandy Lake) by 1:30 PM for a short pontoon ride to the island. If you are running late you must contact Gary at 218.851.6085. The pontoon leaves the dock promptly at 1:30 PM. You will be returned to the dock at 4:00 PM.

What to bring: Wear old clothes and shoes. On the first day, bring rubber boots (or plan to go barefoot) to harvest clay.

Session 1.  Harvesting and conditioning Sandy Lake clay from the ground (waterproof rubber boots would be a good idea)
Session 2.  Wheel-thrown bowls and hand building techniques 
Session 3.  Making mugs/cups
Session 4.  Making handles for mugs, trimming bowls and mugs (bisque fired when dry)
Session 5.  Glazing  Session 6.  Results and critique

Limited to 4 students, age 12-18
Cost: FREE!

Beginning Blacksmithing
Instructor: Gary Hill
Sunday, June 10, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM 

THIS CLASS IS FULL 

A beginning class in the principles of blacksmithing using a coal fired forge.  No previous forging experience required.
This one-day class includes starting and maintaining a coal fire in the forge, tapering, upsetting, hot cutting, fullering, swaging and forge welding techniques.

What to bring: Bag lunch, safety glasses, boots, ear protection, leather gloves and cotton clothing.

Course fee: $40 (includes all materials) per session.
High School students 14 years and older are FREE!
Limited to 6 students


Big Sandy Water Institute (Ages 14-18 only)
Frontier Blacksmithing I: Forging a Fire Steel
Instructor: Gary Hill
Monday, June 11, 9:00 AM to 12:00 Noon 

Two hundred years ago, there was a blacksmith shop on the western shore of Sandy Lake. Blacksmiths were extremely important in the early days as they made and repaired the tools and wares of the day, including: axes, hoes, horse and ox shoes, fur traps, fish spears, knives, fire steels and gun parts. Today there is once again a blacksmith shop on the lake -- Sandy Lake Forge -- offering a chance to learn about this ancient craft. Participants will tour the smithy and learn about the  function of the many tools in the shop. Traditional blacksmithing techniques will be demonstrated and students will have the opportunity to forge a piece of iron into a fire steel using hammer, anvil and coal forge. Students will put their skills to use by  trying their hand at starting a fire with a piece of flint and the fire steel they made.

What to bring:  Cotton clothing, gloves, boots, long sleeves and long pants, eye protection, ear protection.

Be ready to go at our dock at 50569 218th Place, McGregor (Big Sandy Lake) by 9:00 AM for a short pontoon ride to the island. If you are running late you must contact Gary at 218.851.6085. The pontoon leaves the dock promptly at 9:00 AM. You will be returned to the dock at 12:00 noon.

Limited to 6 students 14 to 18
Cost: FREE!


Big Sandy Water Institute (Ages 14-18 only)
Frontier Blacksmithing II: Forging a Roasting Fork
Instructor: Gary Hill
Monday, June 18, 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM 

 Early frontier cooking was often done by roasting foods over an open fire of hot coals. A roasting fork is a useful and efficient way to accomplish cooking over a fire. Students will forge a roasting fork and then use their own handmade fork to roast a hotdog or bratwurst over a campfire.

What to bring:  Cotton clothing, gloves, boots, long sleeves and long pants, eye protection, ear protection and a bag lunch.

Be ready to go at our dock at 50569 218th Place, McGregor (Big Sandy Lake) by 9:00 AM for a short pontoon ride to the island. If you are running late you must contact Gary at 218.851.6085. The pontoon leaves the dock promptly at 9:00 AM. You will be returned to the dock at 1:00 PM.

Limited to 6 students age 14 to 18
Cost: FREE!


Traditional Norwegian Knife and Sheath Making
Instructor: Kjetil Groven
June 15-17 (Friday-Sunday)
THIS CLASS IS FULL 

Acclaimed Norwegian knife-maker Kjetil Groven will be teaching a 3-day class, forging traditional Norwegian 3-layer knife blades. You will heat-treat and grind the blades, then set them in a wood handle that you will shape and stain. If time allows, you will make a traditional leather sheath; if not, Kjetil will demonstrate all the steps so that students can finish the sheath on their own, if desired. (Last year everyone made several blades, one or two handles and a sheath, but it required working into the evening hours).

Course fee: $225 plus materials fee of approximately $75
Limited to 12 students (This class is full)
Meal cost is extra: see registration form


Big Sandy Water Institute (Ages 14-18 only)
Frontier Blacksmithing III: Forging an 18th-Century Belt Axe
Instructor: Gary Hill Monday, June 25, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
THIS CLASS IS FULL

An axe was an important tool in the early days.  It provided the means to build a house of logs and to harvest wood for heat. The belt axe was a popular trade item and dates from the mid-seventeenth century to the late 19th century.  Many thousands of "trade axes" were brought across the Savanna Portage near Big Sandy Lake. These axes were typically manufactured in England, France, Spain and arrived by ship on the east coast. They were then transported by voyagers in canoes to arrive at their destination, a trading post on the frontier. This will be  a course involving forging a small belt hatchet or "Trade Axe" in the traditional manner using a coal forge, anvil and hammer. Prior forging experience is desired, but not essential.

Be ready to go at our dock at 50569 218th Place, McGregor (Big Sandy Lake) by 9:00 AM for a short pontoon ride to the island. If you are running late you must contact Gary at 218.851.6085. The pontoon leaves the dock promptly at 9:00 AM. You will be returned to the dock at 4:00 PM.

What to bring:  Bag lunch, safety glasses, boots, ear protection, leather gloves and cotton clothing (long pants, long sleeves).

Limited to 4 students age 14 - 18
Cost:  FREE!


A Day of Watercolor Painting 

Instructor: Ann Rorem 

Saturday, July 14, 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM 

Pack a bag lunch and come ready to spend a summer Saturday painting, led by Ann Rorem, who teaches at the Eden Prairie Art Center. This one-day class is for beginner and beyond, or if you just need a nudge to pick up your brush again. We will be creating a wash-based painting to show various watercolor techniques (not necessarily the one shown here).

Course fee: $45 (includes all materials. Extra paper will be available for purchase)
If you have your own preferred paints and brushes, you are welcome to bring them.
Limited to 5 students (minimum 3)




Forging Door Hinges
Instructor: Gary Hill
Saturday, July 14, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM 

A blacksmithing class on forging a pair of strap hinges with pintels. No previous forging experience required.

What to bring: Bag lunch, safety glasses, boots, ear protection, leather gloves and cotton clothing. 

Course fee: $40 (includes all materials)
High School Students 14 years and older are FREE!
Limited to 6 Students


Forging Tongs
Instructor: Gary Hill
Sunday, July 15, 9:00 AM-4:00PM 

A blacksmith class in making a pair of tongs to be used at the forge. No previous forging experience required. What to bring: Bag lunch, safety glasses, boots, ear protection, leather gloves and cotton clothing.

Course fee: $40 (includes all materials)
High School Students are FREE!
Limited to 6 Students 




Birch Bark Weaving with John Zasada and Jack Sneve
July 21-22 (Saturday-Sunday) 
THIS CLASS IS CANCELED DUE TO CIRCUMSTANCES BEYOND OUR CONTROL


John Zasada and Jack Sneve are popular teachers of birch bark weaving in this region, and we’re so happy they’ll be teaching a class on the island this summer. The basket you’ll make in this class is the simple square or horizontal weave basket shown here, done in the Scandinavian and Russian style. The material used is split inner bark of local birch trees, harvested in a way that doesn’t harm the trees. Students will weave the basket and lid separately, and attach the lid to the basket with a willow stick and birch bark strips. John and Jack will also show how to add optional ornamentation, such as woven stars or pinwheels. The finished basket measures about 8” x 6” by 6”

Course fee $150
Limited to 7 students (minimum 3)
Meal cost is extra: see registration form

Wooden Spoon Carving
Instructor: Fred Livesay
August 11-12 (Saturday-Sunday)  

Spoon carving is what might be called a gateway to green woodworking. Seemingly simple, the spoon is a seductive and functional piece of sculpture rooted deeply in the common wooden culture of our ancestors. Spoons reached their highest forms of development in Scandinavia where they were in daily use from well before the Viking era until the 1950s in rural areas.  During your two-day exploration, you will learn traditional safe knife strokes and safe practices from one of the America's best spoon carvers. You will begin on small projects, then move to spoons.  Discussion and hands on demonstrations will focus on design, proportions, knife sharpening, decorating and finishing. This class requires some hand strength.
Spoon carving is what might be called a gateway to green woodworking. Seemingly simple, the spoon is a seductive and functional piece of sculpture rooted deeply in the common wooden culture of our ancestors. Spoons reached their highest forms of development in Scandinavia where they were in daily use from well before the Viking era until the 1950s in rural areas.  During your two-day exploration, you will learn traditional safe knife strokes and safe practices from one of the America's best spoon carvers. You will begin on small projects, then move to spoons.  Discussion and hands on demonstrations will focus on design, proportions, knife sharpening, decorating and finishing. This class requires some hand strength.

If students wish to, they may bring their own tools or they may purchase the following:

Mora carving knife (120 or 106)
Scorp or hook knife available from (pinewoodforge.com). Get your order in early.
Sharpening stones if they have them (also available from pinewoodforge.com)

Bring favorite old or new wooden spoons to share with the class.
Course fee $150
Materials fee: $20.00 includes tool usage, practice wood & spoon blanks
Limited to 8 students (minimum 5)
Meal cost is extra: see registration form

Stay tuned for additional day classes. If you have a request for a class, please let us know!

Accommodations and Photo Gallery


Accommodations 

Accommodations are rustic (outhouse facilities; no running water), but they're comfy. If you prefer to tent, there are places to set up camp. If rustic living isn't your thing, we can recommend local hotels and resorts.

Beds are available in our cabins (shown below) on a first-come/first-served basis, free of charge. You will need to bring your own bedding (sleeping bag and pillow). 







Photos of Classes and Class Projects

Tom Latané demonstrates chasing (photo by Kitty Latané)

Blacksmith demo by Tom Latané (photo by Kitty Latané)

Tom Latane's hammer class, 2016

Getting started on a sunset painting in Anne Rorem's class, July 2017
A few results from Kitty's tinsmithing class
Kitty Latane's tinsmithing class, June 2017
Fred Livesay shows how to rough out a spoon from green birch, using a hatchet, July 2017
Fred Livesay demonstrates safe spoon carving technique, July 2017

Student work from Fred Livesay's spoon carving class, July 2017

Knife handles soaking in oil overnight -- Kjetil Groven's Nowegian knife-making class, September 2017
Kjetil Groven's knife students. Kjetil is in the top row on the left. 
Knife students working on leather sheaths

Fire's good for two things: forging iron and grilling chicken
(photo by Kitty Latané)


The crew at Tom Latane's hewing axe class, 2017

Norse axe made in Tom Latane's class, 2017


Gary's barn door latch


The bathroom latch in the main house


Detail from one of the guest cabins


Hammer from Tom Latane's hammer class 2016


Pipe axe made by Gary Hill


For more photos, check out the link below. These were taken by Grant Stromgren at our axe-making class with Tom Latane in June 2017. (Disclaimer: Grant gives permission to use any of these photos for personal use, but please do not take personal credit or sell any of these photos. Additionally, do not use them for business or commercial needs unless you ask permission from Grant first, via email to Gary Hill (hillx001@umn.edu). Thanks!

How to Register for a Class, What to Bring, Driving Directions, and Contact Information

To register for a class, print and complete the Registration Form (click here)
 and mail it with your check(s) to Gary Hill, 50569 218th Place, McGregor, MN 55760. Fill out one form for each student, for each class. We are sorry but we don't accept credit card payments at this time.

* * * * To teach a class or recommend an instructor, please contact us! * * * * 

WHAT TO BRING

Your instructor will supply materials and tools you'll need for your workshop. You should also pack the following:
  • Appropriate clothing and footwear for your workshop (this usually means old clothes you don't mind getting dirty or stained), and something to wear in the evenings if you want to change out of your work clothes.
  • Toiletries and medications
  • Insect repellent
  • Sleeping bag and pillow, and other camping bedding (if needed)
  • Towel and washcloth
  • Beverages and snacks as you wish, and a small cooler if needed (refrigerator space is limited).
  • If you have opted out of our catered meals, or if you have food allergies or other restrictions, bring pre-made meals. We can provide limited refrigerator space and warming options.
  • Bathing suit and floaty things optional, for lake swimming off the dock. 

WHERE TO FIND US

Raspberry Island is located on Big Sandy Lake, about 10 miles north of McGregor, MN, just off Highway 65. Our landing is at 50569 218th Place (see map below). This is where our dock is, and where we will pick you up when you arrive. There is parking available. 

Mailing address and phone:

Gary and Janet Hill
50569 218th Place
McGregor, MN 55760

Gary's cell phone:  218.851.6085
Janet's cell phone: 218.259.4090

Gary's email: hillx001@umn.edu
Janet's email:  janethillnew@gmail.com (email is preferred)


Driving directions:

From the south: From the Twin Cities, follow Highway 65 to McGregor (about 2 hours north). Driving north out of McGregor, MN on Highway 65, go about 9 miles. You'll pass Zorbaz restaurant on the right, and Eagle Point Resort after that. When you come to mile marker 127, start looking for a sign that says "Bridge Road." Turn right on Bridge Road (the street sign is Long Point Place). Go 1/2 mile, and turn left on 218th Place -- this is the first opportunity you'll have to turn left. Go a couple tenths of a mile, and you'll see our mailbox: 50569 218th Place. The best way to park is to continue up the road and turn around, and come back to park on the lake side of the road. Be sure to leave room for the postal worker if it's a weekday.

From the north: Coming south from Jacobson on Highway 65, you'll see Big Sandy Lake on your left. You'll pass the overlook/memorial on your left, and Fisherman's Bay tavern on your right, and then you'll need to start looking for a sign that says "Bridge Road." Turn left on Bridge Road (the street sign is Long Point Place). Go 1/2 mile, and turn left on 218th Place -- this is the first opportunity you'll have to turn left. Go a couple tenths of a mile, and you'll see our mailbox: 50569 218th Place. The best way to park is to continue up the road and turn around, and come back to park on the lake side of the road. Be sure to leave room for the postal worker if it's a weekday.