Ox-Cart Broom and Woodworks was inspired by the 1928 poem by Donald Hall, which was later adapted into a children’s book with beautiful illustrations by Barbara Cooney. The poem and story follow the seasonal life of a family living in rural New England in the 19th century. Throughout the year, the family grows and makes much of what they need, including wool and knitted items from their sheep, homemade candles, shingles split from local lumber, handmade brooms, vegetables from the garden, maple sugar, and much more. Come fall, the family loads their ox-cart (that they of course built themselves) with all the extra food they grew and items they made, and the father walks the ox and cart to the market. After selling everything in the cart, and the cart and ox themselves, the man walks home with a few store-bought necessities and, upon returning home:
“by the fire’s light in November cold stitches new harness for next year’s ox in the barn, and carves the yoke, and saws planks building the cart again.”
I am continually inspired by the lifestyle that “Ox-Cart Man” describes. Living with the rhythms of the seasons, growing, crafting and harvesting most of what one needs and limiting consumerism to what is necessary and affordable. I want my business and lifestyle to follow with these values and hope to create well-crafted and useful items that will last for many years.
I was born in the Midwest and spent my childhood summers exploring the forests and lakes of Northern Wisconsin, where I quickly became inspired by the wilds around me. I have always been fascinated by wood and the vast array of useful items that can be made from sustainably harvested forest resources, which led me to pursue ecology and forestry in my formal education. In craft, I am mostly self-taught, picking up skills here and there from workshops, friends and mentors and blending what I have learned into my own unique style. I strive to make my craft reflect my interests and passions by featuring fun colors and natural grain patterns as well as interesting form, while allowing the beauty of the wood to speak for itself. I believe most of all in functional art - beautiful, useful and well crafted pieces that can be both displayed and used around the home for many years. I would love to see the world moving back towards a culture in which high quality, locally crafted household goods are preferred over inexpensive outsourced items from big box retailers.
My daily life in rural northern Minnesota reflects my passions and beliefs. I live with my partner in a small home on a white pine covered ridge, with our only heat supplied by a wood stove. I follow the seasonal food harvests of the region as people have been doing for thousands of years, tapping maple trees and making maple syrup and sugar, harvesting fiddleheads, ramps and other wild greens, picking berries and apples, knocking wild rice, netting whitefish, and much more. I'm often in awe of this small corner of the world where I can get tips on training my sled dog through casual conversation at the local co-op, where sled dog races are broadcast live on the local radio, where I can still find multiple horse-loggers, and where all of the local news can be obtained by sitting in the community sauna for just a few minutes.
Check out the below gallery for more about some of my personal crafting adventures and interests!