I am an artisan creating utilitarian housewares including broomcorn brooms and wooden kitchenware. I love using hand tools in my work, enjoying the calm and slow deliberateness of each cut with a saw, knife, gouge, or spokeshave. I want stories about my life among the forests and lakes of northern Minnesota to be present in my work, in part through incorporating materials that I harvest locally. I enjoy bringing broom making, a traditionally east coast and Appalachian craft, to the northern ecosystems by incorporating birch bark and black ash into whisk broom handles and local saplings into the handles of my full-sized brooms, while my wood-turning and carving focuses mostly on wood from local birch and maple forests and occasionally incorporates other local materials such as antler and birchbark.
My process begins by walking into the woods along the sled-dog trail near my cabin wearing snowshoes and mukluks, carrying an ax and saw, and pulling a sled. My background as an ecologist and forester and knowledge of the ecosystems feed my decisions as to which species and trees are best to harvest and will not impact the forest detrimentally. After harvesting what I can, I head to my shop where I allow broom handles to dry and in the meantime turn and carve kitchen wares from the freshly cut birch before the logs can dry out and crack. I draw inspiration from examples of historical Scandinavian woodenware, as well as from some of my favorite items found around my home. I might mimic in wood the size and shape of my favorite little pottery cup, or take an item as simple as a plastic pour-over coffee funnel and try to emulate it in wood.
I strive to maintain folk craft aesthetics and function in my work, but also appreciate pushing the boundaries of tradition to realize my vision. I continue to be excited about incorporating new materials and bright colors into broom making to keep the craft dynamic and compelling. As a woodworker, my goal is to replace plastic, glass and metal kitchen utensils with wood and to continue to explore shapes, colors and themes that echo the feel of the North Shore and our historical Scandinavian influence while also maintaining relevance in the modern world. I hope that people are inspired to use the items I craft, to understand that these are items that have a long history of use in the home and are crafted not only to stand up to daily wear and tear, but to build character and stories through their use.
I am also passionate about passing my knowledge along to others. I am both a teacher and a student, sharing what I have learned and learning continually myself.
Please check out the rest of my website to learn more about who I am and what I do. Included is a blog so you can stay updated on my adventures in craft and life. If you have any questions about any of my products or processes, you can reach me using the form on the contact page and I will be sure to get back to you in a timely manner!
I AM FROM (written in a story telling workshop with Kevin Kling)
I am from the hand-built black ash shaving mule, from the darkest corners, the dusty floors. I am from the gnarled sapling handle, so carefully chosen. I am from the field of tall sorghum grass, the thicket of alder growing along the stream. I am from sweeping a circle around my lover to keep him near, from Levi Dickinson and Ben Franklin and Glen McLean. I am from the continuous rocking motion, the pull and wrap, from flying past the full harvest moon. I am from the pagan women, the feminine divine. I am from the coarse livestock feed, the soft sorghum bread, from the one room cabin, both home and shop. I am from dustpans, mops and spills. I am from the hand carved hook on the wall.