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Are Folk Schools the Best Way to Learn?

North House Folk School Grand Marais, MN

Happy Spring everyone!

We have survived driving in the snow and rain to host our classes this past winter and I am excited to announce our Sami Inspired Bracelet class schedule for 2019. The number one question I get asked by my students is ‘where else do you teach?’.

We have taught classes for weaving and textile guilds, conferences, private parties, museums, folk schools and even Scandinavian specialty shops. The number two question posed by my some of my students is ‘what is a folk school?’. I love this question because some of my skills are the direct result of having attended a folk school myself.

The folk school model is a tradition associated with Scandinavian countries where life long learning is part of the culture. That means folks don’t stop taking classes after they’re out of school. Discovering and building things by hand regardless of age or gender strengthens community and brings people from all walks of life together in an environment where everyone is free to be creative.

Folk schools also give people an opportunity to work with their hands and try something new or hone skills they might already have. Folk schools keep the legacy of craft traditions alive by offering classes in a relaxed environment with talented local and regional instructors as well as international teachers. I was lucky enough to attend Raulandsakadimiet in Rauland Telemark Norway in order to learn traditional filigree and metalworking techniques. However, you don’t have to travel to Norway (although it’s pretty sweet!) in order to experience a folk school environment.

For example, we’ve been teaching at the North House Folk School in Grand Marais, MN for over 16 years and it is the first established folk school in Minnesota to offer classes celebrating Northern European craft. You can take a variety of classes including blacksmithing, silversmithing, boat building and timber framing as well as a variety of jewelry classes. The campus is right on the shores of Lake Superior and the view from many of the classrooms is stunning. This is the first folk school where I began teaching Sami Inspired Bracelet classes. Since then we’ve taught at a variety of venues where we are invited to teach annually. Our current schedule includes some new venues so you have additional dates to choose from if you are busy planning your upcoming summer and fall getaway.

Saami Inspired Bracelet Class
North House Folk School – Photo courtesy of Bryan Hansel

North House Folk School Blacksmithing Class
North House Folk School Willow Fence Class

The Marine Mills Folk School located in Marine on St. Croix, MN is a brand new facility. Their mission is ‘to support and strengthen connections by inviting all people to discover the joy of creating together through traditional arts and crafts’’ I was thrilled they contacted me to be their first Sami Inspired Bracelet class instructor and we are already busy planning additional classes and dates for 2020.

As I mentioned, we recently braved a swathe of cranky Minnesota weather to teach at the Marine Mills Folk School for the first time to a group of determined students who wanted to know more about the craft as well as the Sami culture. Students asked questions like, ‘is it okay to use the term ‘Sami tribe’ or ‘Lapplander’?” (which are not culturally acceptable or accurate descriptions) or “what is the origin or history of pewter spun thread?”

Instructor Liz Bucheit – Saami Inspired Bracelet Class

My students and I also shared and exchanged several resource books on the Sami culture for further reading and information. So if you are looking to learn something new in a low stress, hands-on class with like minded people interested in traditional crafts, the folk school environment is for you! Check out our class schedule for 2019 and contact me with any questions you may have. Classes fill quickly especially in the summer so register at your preferred venue early.

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Giitu! (Sami for ‘thank you’)

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