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March Newsletter
Earrach Sona! Happy March!

March is a blustery month for me, in more ways than just the unpredictable and tumultuous weather. There are celebrations this month, like St. Patrick’s Day, my dad’s and baby niece’s birthdays, and spring pushing out winter. But it is also a month marked by deep grief for me as my mom passed away on March 28th, 2014. March is a month of duality, when we can smell spring while trudging through massive snow drifts around Ely, and we can indulge in new spring joy while remembering those we’ve lost. 

I want to dedicate this newsletter to my mom; without her influence in my life, I don’t think I would be working at the Ely Folk School. My mom was a fiber artist, fashion designer, painter, and family woman. She was proud of her strong Irish and Austrian heritage, and encouraged me to learn about it through my education at school. In her early twenties, she spent time living in Ireland, and throughout our relationship, she taught me little life lessons from her journey. We watched movies about selkies and The Troubles, listened to Celtic music every Christmas, and wore Irish-made clothes. On St. Patrick’s Day, she made traditional Irish soda bread and corned beef while she recounted the history of how her ancestors had to leave Ireland due to the potato famine. She told me stories about her grandmother, who was born in Ireland, and her connections to the mystical realms. 

Since my mom died, I have sought out ways of staying connected to her memory and inspiration. This hunger for connection has led me to teach myself different fiber arts skills. In recent years, I taught myself how to needle-tat lace, and then discovered my mom’s extensive collection of Irish lace and books on the subject. In my research, I learned that tatting lace was a popular occupation for women during the potato famine. At the time, there was a fashion craze for Irish lace, made popular in part by Queen Victoria. Nuns would teach the Irish women how to tat so that they could provide for their starving families. While tatting, I have wondered if somewhere in my ancestry there exists a woman who also tatted lace. History repeats itself, and I can only hope that in my connection with fiber arts I am channeling some of my ancestors’ artistic vision. I know I am channeling my mom because without her passion for textiles, I would not have found the same passion and desire to share it with others. 

Consider joining me on St. Patrick’s Day at the Ely Folk School to learn the skill of needle-tatting Irish lace and celebrate Irish heritage. 

Sláinte chugat (good health to you)!

Nora Rickey,  Assistant Program Coordinator

View full list of classes online.

Makers Morning

9:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Join other makers and crafters weekly at the Ely Folk School for a relaxed morning of creativity and sharing. Whether you crochet, quilt, solder, write, or weave, any project is welcome. This space is also excellent for students who did not finish a project during their class.

Monthly Sisu

Written by Nora Rickey

Níl an earraigh ach timpeall an chúinne! Or, “spring is just around the corner,” in Irish Gaelic! 

As a person with Irish heritage, I am always looking for ways to explore my ancestry. In college, I was an Irish studies minor and completed a BFA in drama. I spent many hours reading Irish literature and plays, and spent a year learning the Irish Gaelic language in addition to learning about Irish culture. While I don’t remember much of Irish (it’s a very hard language!), I still love listening to the sean-nós style of singing and trying to translate and learn the lyrics. 

Working at the folk school has been a great way for me to get in touch with other traditional crafts and cultural elements, and has challenged me to explore more deeply my connection to my ancestry. This winter, I’ve been finding joy in needle-tatting lace, a practice that’s part of the Irish lace-making tradition, and consuming all manner of Irish culture.

Here are some of my favorites if you’re looking to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in good Irish fashion: Continue reading.

And if you’re like me and like to listen to music while crafting, then you’ll enjoy my favorite Irish musicians playlist.

Class Spotlight

Irish Tatted Lace
Thursday, March 17 at 4:00 pm

 Come celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with an Irish-themed needle tatting class. During the potato famine, women would tat lace to sell and provide for their families. Either using a needle or shuttle, they were able to make their lace anywhere.  If you’ve ever tried and had difficulty with shuttle tatting, this is an easier alternative that produces the same results. Join us in this beginner-level class, where students will learn how to make tatted knots and picots to create a simple lace flower and clover.

Class will cover tatted lace history, discuss the differences between tatted lace and other forms of lace, and help students learn to read a tatted lace pattern. This is a perfect jumping off point for those who want to add tatting to their fiber technique tool kit! Some experience working with a needle and thread–sewing or stitching–is helpful to those interested in learning this technique.

March Class List

Anishinaabe Storytelling with Char Lewis 
March 2 at 7:00 pm – $10/person; $15/family; Free for Band Members

Anishinaabe Storytelling: Live Online with Char Lewis
  March 2 at 7:00 pm – $15

Hammer & Tongs & More: Making Basic Tools with the Forging Community
  March 4 at 5:00 pm & March 5 at 9:00 am – $140

Game Night with Charlie Cecil
  March 7 at 6:00 pm – FREE

Happy Hour in Rio: Coxinhas & Caipirinhas: Live Online with Lacey Squier
   March 10 at 6:30 pm & March 11 at 5:00 pm  *Sliding Scale Tuition

Writing With Your Child, For Your Child with John Kopp
  Thursdays, March 10, 17, 24, 31, April 7 & 14 at 6:30 pm – $80

Improve Your Throwing with Nina Wray
  March 12 at 12:00 pm – $60

Irish Tatted Lace with Nora Rickey
   March 17 at 4:00 pm – $51

Stained Glass Studio with Betty Firth
  Mondays, March 21, 28 & April 4 at 2:00 pm – $148

Lidded Vessels Workshop with Wade Pharr
  March 22 & 23 at 6:00 pm – $80

Anishinaabe Storytelling Potluck
   March 23 at 5:30 pm – FREE

Anishinaabe Storytelling with Char Lewis 
March 23 at 7:00 pm –  $10/person; $15/family; Free for Band Members

Anishinaabe Storytelling: Live Online with Char Lewis
  March 23 at 7:00 pm – $15

Needle Felt a Hummingbird: Live Online with Laura Berlage
  March 24 at 1:00 pm – $76

Unlocking the Night Sky with Bob King
  March 25 at 7:30pm – $30

The Maasepän Puukko with Paige May
   March 26 & 27 at 9:00 am – $300

April Class List

Game Night with Charlie Cecil
April 4 at 6:00 pm – FREE

Playing to Create a Story with John Kopp
April 5 at 9:30 am – $25

Need Felt an Easter Egg: Live Online with Laura Berlage
  April 7 at 1:00 pm – $81

Mini Card Weaving with Nora Rickey

  April 7 at 1:00 pm – $30

Learn Through Coloring: Boiling Maple Sap with EFS Staff
  April 7 at 4:00 pm – $10 

Slovenian Walnut Potica with Lacey Squier
  April 10 at 1:00 pm *Sliding Scale Tuition

Slovenian Walnut Potica: Live Online with Lacey Squier
  April 10 at 1:00 pm – $42

Nature Writing for Women: Welcome Spring: Live Online with DyAnne Korda
  April 10 at 10:00 am – $25

May Class List

Introduction to Clay Work with Wade Pharr
  Tuesdays & Thursdays May 3-31 – 6:00 pm – $345

Lace a Northwoods Chair with Peta Barrett
   May 5-7 at 9:00 am – $405

Mother’s Day Charcuterie Board with Ashlyn Friend
May 5 at 5:00 pm – $30

Woodblock Carving 101 with Jessie Merriam
  May 7 at 1:00 pm – $56

Houseplant Swap and Repotting Social
  May 19 at 5:30 pm – $5-10 recommended

The Ely Folk School is made possible by: Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, Donald G. Gardner Humanities Trust, Lake Country Power, Minnesota State Arts Board, Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment, and Rotary International. 
We invite you to become a Friend of Ely Folk School through your donation. Thank you so much for helping us accomplish our mission of building community by providing learning experiences that celebrate the wilderness heritage, art, history, culture, and craft of the people of northern Minnesota.