Events Archive

Traditional Han Athabascan Beading

Fridays, August 2, 9, and 16, 20191:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Tuition: $90 Materials: $10

This is a 3-week class series, which will be open to beginners and beaders with some experience, giving them an opportunity to improve their skills and work with more intricate designs.

You will learn how to paint with beads, creating beautiful designs in the traditional style of the Han Athabascan people of Alaska. The beading will be done on a felt background, so you will be able to attach your finished piece to a purse, moccasin, shirt or other article of clothing or frame it for your home.

You will learn all the basics of beading, including the preferred tools and materials, how to choose beads, and various stitches to use. Adeline will provide a number of Han Athabascan designs for you to choose from, and you will have a chance to learn about the Han Athabascan culture as Adeline shares her stories.

Adeline does not live here year-round, so take advantage of this opportunity to learn from a master craftsperson!

About the instructor: Adeline Potts is a Native of Alaska of the Han Athabascan tribe. She has had extensive experience beading professionally, creating intricately-beaded wedding garments and beautiful Moosehide moccasins, and enjoys teaching, passing on the traditional skills to others. She and her husband spent over 30 winters living off the land in the Alaskan wilderness, fishing, hunting and trapping.

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Weaving with Basswood Bark Twine

Sunday, July 21, 20199:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Tuition: $60 Materials: $20

If you’d like to continue the exploration, you can sign up for Sunday’s class. We will continue to make twine and braid for an hour or two and then use the braid, in particular, to make coiled small mats and hot pads. The bark will be available in natural color and dyed with RIT dye to jazz up the handmade items.

If you have ideas for creating your own project using the basswood bark you are welcome to give it a try. For those of you who are knitters, you can bring your knitting needles and knit the twined or untwined bark. A main purpose of this class is to provide beginners and folks with experience using basswood to learn more about this material and share their experience and ideas.

Using the twine and braid you have made in Saturday’s class along with materials from John, you will learn how to weave it into a small mat, hot pad, or small basket, or use the whole bark layer to make a folded berry basket. John harvests all of the materials from around Grand Rapids.

About the instructor: John Zasada worked for 40 years as a research forester for the USDA Forest Service in Alaska, Oregon, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. He learned to weave after retiring from the Forest Service. John believes in the importance of folk schools and has taught a number of classes at the North House Folk School and here in Ely.

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Wild Rice Harvesting

Thursday, September 5, 20188:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Tuition: $80 Materials: $35

This class is also offered on Wednesday, September 4th.

We will spend a day harvesting wild rice from a local lake. Identification of the native plant, tips on how to recognize when it is ripe to harvest, and harvest methods will all be covered. Participants will receive a proportional share of the wild rice harvested by the class, and you will gain enough knowledge to be able to continue harvesting wild rice on your own.

Materials fee includes canoes, paddles, life vests, and harvesting tools, which will be provided by the instructor, as well as wild rice processing. Participants will need to purchase a DNR wild rice harvesting license, which is available wherever fishing licenses are sold.

About the instructor: LynnAnne Vesper has guided canoe and dogsled trips for over two decades, teaching all the skills needed to participants. She has taught with Elderhostel programs, the Swedish and French Voyageur summer youth programs, Corcordia Language Villages and Vermilion Community College.

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Barn Quilts for Beginners

Friday, September 6, 20191:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Tuition: $40 Materials Fee: $30

Barn quilts have a relatively recent history in American agricultural communities. A nod to the contributions of women in agriculture, they are also a way to give what is traditionally an “inside” folk art (traditional quilting) a more permanent and public display for people to enjoy.

This class will cover the history of barn quilts and all techniques needed to paint your own barn quilt. In class you will be designing a quilt, graphing it out on a 24″ x 24″ “quilt square”, and then painting it. You will leave class with a quilt square that will be ready to hang. After the initial introduction to barn quilts, students will work on their projects with lots of individual attention and support from Jill.

About the Instructor: Jill Dalbacka recently retired from a career teaching elementary school and adult education with a prior career as an occupational therapist. In retirement she is pursuing her passions, which includes spending time with grandchildren, working on social justice and racial equality issues, and creating and sharing her craft with others. She has been interested in barn quilts for several years but only recently started to create her own on her farm where she and her family are the third generation. They are in the process of renovating their barn (also built in 1921) to become a community event space. Jill’s dream is to work with her local communities to create a barn quilt trail along the local highway that will be able to support an annual barn quilt event.

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Autumn’s Awesome Go-Anywhere Tote

Friday, June 28, 20198:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Tuition: $80 Materials: $5.00

This attractive and practical tote can be used as a purse or a carryall for work or projects. It has two large pockets in the inside, is lightweight, washable, and stands upright. It is a great introduction to quilting, as one will learn about rotary cutting, piecing, batting, quilting, and finishing touches. You’ll have fun making it and will receive so many compliments on your unique Go Anywhere Tote, you’ll be glad you did.

You’ll need to buy your choice of fabric ahead of time, which with supplies will cost about $30. This total includes the 10% discount at Mary’s Spinning Wheel (located in Ely) that Ely Folk School class participants receive. She will have the list of supplies on hand and can also help you choose appropriate fabric. The shop hours vary, so check before you go!

Your supply list for this 11″ X 14″ X 4″ tote:

4 fat quarters of different fabric or 36 five-inch squares (charm pack)1 yard of complementary fabric for lining and handles 1-1/2 yards of Pellon 987F fusible fleece 1 one-inch button2 spools of 110 yds of Gutermann thread to match the lining fabric. The Folk School has sewing machines, but bring your own sewing machine with its manual, if possible, so you can work with a familiar machine. Other sewing supplies will be provided.

About the instructor: Autumn Cole enjoys creating unique and colourful quilts, purses and bags, aprons, and more. She has taught sewing classes for many years, including at the Ely Folk School where some of her quilts and other sewn items are offered for sale.

Autumn says, “As a psychologist, I have enjoyed teaching psychology classes at various colleges, and as a certified Happiness Coach, I teach classes on the keys to happiness. I enjoy teaching!”

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Making Natural Facial Products

Thursday, June 27, 201912:30 PM – 2:30 PM

Tuition: $20 Materials: $30

There are so many products available to keep your skin healthy and looking young, but it’s fun and economical to make your own. It’s also really important to know what all the ingredients are since your skin digests everything that goes on it.

We’ll make a product to scrub and nourish the skin, an herbal blend to open and cleanse the pores, and a rich cream that will sooth and moisturize. You’ll bring home a beautiful kit with directions. Stay for the herbal facial class that follows this one and learn how to best use the products you have created.

About the instructor: Jaime Brennan can always remember having a special relationship with the plants that grew around her. She began learning how to use them to improve her own health in 2006. Feeling the benefits of herbs, she wanted to share this knowledge with others and began offering classes and products. Her personal passion is to use her knowledge, experience, and different tools to help others create tranquility: a body in balance, a mind at ease, and a satisfied soul. To learn more about Jaime and what she offers, visit

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Intricate Springerle Cookies

Friday, June 28, 20191:30 pm – 3:30 pm

Tuition: $20 Materials: $5

Students will learn how to make intricate German Springerle cookies and take home a delicious batch. These 14th century cookies, traditionally flavored with anise, were baked for religious and secular holidays.

The cookies must dry for 24 hours before baking, so if you don’t live locally or don’t have access to an oven, other arrangements can be made. Students will need to bring two baking sheets or a large food storage container

About the instruction: Jessica was originally from Ely, but grew up in Arizona before joining the Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer. She currently lives in Ely with her family while completing dual Master’s degrees.

“Springerle cookies are one of my favorites, but they can be hard to find, so I purchased the molds necessary to make them myself. I also teach the chainmaille jewelry classes at the Ely Folk School.”

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Craft a Custom Fit Moccasin

Saturday, August 24, 20199:00 am – 5:00 pm

Tuition: $80 Materials: $35

Moccasins are the best natural footwear ever devised. Warm, light & lithe, they’re said to give you “magic feet” that can be rolled up and taken with you to parties, and worn inside your own home.

You will learn to create a pattern for deerskin moccasins, customized to fit your feet. This style of moccasins is a two-piece style, all hand-sewn. YAt the end of the class, you will either have a pair of completed moccasins or possibly have some work left to do at home.

Students should bring pliers and scissors. Feel free to bring any beads you may have to decorate the top with one special bead or a simple design.

About the Instructor: Donna Mienk has her own moccasin-making business and has taught the process for many years. View her craft at her Mienko’s Moccasins facebook site.

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Create a Free Form Bracelet

Thursday, June 20, 20191:00 PM – 4:30 PM

Tuition: $20 Materials: $16

Free form bracelets use multiple cords and a variety of beads to create a casual bracelet. These bracelets are simple to make and the perfect gift for any age. Students will learn about appropriate cord and beads for this type project as well as the process involved in completing bracelets. Each student will create one or two bracelets that can be worn together or separately. Additional bracelet kits will be available to purchase at a reduced rate.

Bracelets of this type are a good way to recycle broken jewelry, or to use up random beads left from other projects.

About the instructor: Kay Vandervort says, “As children we could get out of doing dishes if we read. We read a lot. And, we could watch television if we had a project we were working on while we watched. Hence, all my life I have gotten into the habit of having a lap project—jewelry making, embroidery, sewing, or experimenting with a variety of artistic medium.”

Kay has a degree in secondary education and taught both in high school and technical college before moving to a career in not-for-profit management. She has facilitated trainings at both regional and statewide conferences on topics related to non-profit marketing, volunteer management, and volunteer recruitment and screening. She has taught several jewelry and polymer clay classes in the past at the Ely Folk School.

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Night Sky Photography: The Aurora & Star Trails

This is a two-day class. (Please note the different times on each day.)Saturday, October 5, 2019 6:00 PM-10:00 PMSunday, October 6, 2019 12:30 PM-2:30 PM

Tuition: $60 Materials: $10

This class is for any photographer who looks up at the night sky in amazement and wants to capture its beauty. Whether you are a beginner or advanced photographer, this class will teach you how to photograph the Northern Lights, the night sky and star trails images.

This is a hands-on class. We will review equipment needed, photography procedures as well as post production techniques. Weather permitting, we’ll go out in the field and photograph the night sky and the aurora (if she graces us with her presence).

On day 2 we’ll work with the files from the night before to create our own night sky images. I’ll provide everyone in the class a jump drive of files from my night photography sessions in case the weather is cloudy or rainy.

What is needed? A DSLR or mirrorless camera with wide angle lens, sturdy tripod, and headlamp with red light option. If you want to photograph star trails, an “in-camera” or external intervalometer is required. If you have a laptop, bring it along for the day 2 post-production editing. Adobe Lightroom Classic CC is recommended. StarStax is recommended for star trails.

About the instructor: Les Conrad is a local artist/photographer who focuses on the beauty of the natural world. Les says, “The night sky never ceases to amaze me. We are very lucky to live with some of the darkest night skies around!” Les spent his working life photographing portraits of people. Once retired, Les turned his lenses and attention toward nature, wildlife and landscapes, with particular attention to the night sky. Les moved from the Twin Cities to Ely when he retired.

Les has many years of experience teaching beginning adult photographers including a two-day session at the International Wolf Center. He also presented an “Editing Your Aurora Images” session at the Aurora Summit 2017 in Two Harbors, MN. He knows how to simplify explanations using real world examples so that all learners understand the content.

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