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/)



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 22-23 (Tuesday-Wednesday) 

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) 
AS OF APRIL 5, 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!




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

A beginning class in the principles of blacksmithing using a coal fired forge. This one-day class includes starting and maintaining a coal fire in the forge, tapering, upsetting, hot cutting, fullering, swaging and forge welding techniques. 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) per session. 
High School students 14 years and older are FREE!

Limited to 6 students



Traditional Norwegian Knife and Sheath Making 
Instructor: Kjetil Groven 
June 15-17 (Friday-Sunday) 
AS OF APRIL 4, 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 




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) 

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. 

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!

Photo Gallery


Accommodations 

Accommodations are rustic (outhouse facilities; no running water), but they're comfy. If you prefer to tent, there are ample 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. 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

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


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: 50568 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: 50568 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.