I’m Rick, the newest board member for the Ely Folk School. I have served on many boards and advisory councils in my time on earth, and so far, this is my favorite! The staff is outstanding and the other board members are committed and engaged in the operations of EFS.

Most of my employment career was in casino management, which had it’s rewards, especially in terms of human contact with employees and guests – and that’s hundreds of employees and thousands of guests! EFS is more, well, personal. 

I taught a class with a good friend from the Vermilion Rez – we made chicken wild rice casserole, or hot dish, and had so much fun! We also demonstrated how to pop wild rice. We had a full class and it was so rewarding to demonstrate something that people really wanted to learn and had so many relevant questions – most of which we could honestly answer!

I joined the board when I was invited by another board member, but not immediately. I reflected on growing up in Ely and summer’s at our Grandparents’ resort, Echo Trail Lodge on Burntside Lake, and how much I had learned from my Grandmother, Mary Anderson and my dad. Just basically how to do stuff with available resources, using practical generational knowledge or real time innovation. We made our own slingshots from maple sapling crotches and strips of rubber from car inner tubes, our own bows and arrows, rafts, marshmallow roasting sticks, homemade bread and the world’s best donuts with Gramma. And it was gratifying.

In my short time of involvement with the Ely Folk School and seeing what we offer and who participates, I feel the appeal is the fundamental skill of making something with your own hands and the result is the reward. Last month people showed up in the morning and went home with a bent willow chair that they made themselves – how cool is that!? There’s also the connections to our community and it’s traditional knowledge. The Leino Forge is a great example.

I like that what we offer is communal, and activities encourage helping others succeed. And it is so refreshing to participate in activities that are non-competitive.

When you knit your own mittens, somehow they’re warmer.

So on to November! The Anishinaabe call it Gashkadino-Giizis; Freezing Over Moon. They have that right – today was freezing and it snowed!

Check the calendar for classes and events. We are starting Makers Morning on Thursdays – EFS will be open to anyone who wishes to use our space and equipment to work on individual projects, in the company of like-minded folks. I’ll be there working on snow snakes!

Can’t miss event is the Meat Raffle at Zaverl’s on Friday, November 12.

Thanksgiving Potluck on November 25 at EFS.

Please consider a donation to support EFS this month through, Give to the Max 2021!


Rick Anderson, Board Member

Introducing our newest team member: Nora Rickey, Assistant Program Coordinator
Nora is a self-taught fiber artist and educator who recently moved to Ely to have a closer access to nature’s inspiration. Born and raised in the Twin Cities to a family of artists, Nora grew up with a deep appreciation of different crafts. She studied acting in NYC and came into her visual art practice when she moved back to Minnesota and began teaching herself embroidery in order to connect with her late mom, a costume designer and painter. One skill led to the next, and Nora continued to develop her passion for fiber arts and incorporating skills into her visual artwork. Whether a hidden secret or on full display, Nora loves to create pieces that transform the wearer into art. Read more!

View full list of classes online.

This year donors who give $100+ via the Ely Folk School Give to the Max campaign will be invited to an EXCLUSIVE Avocado & Margarita event on Sunday, November 21 from 4:00pm to 6:00pm. Attendees will sample dishes featuring small batch, organically raised, hand-picked avocados donated by a loyal Ely Folk School supporter. They will also be able to sample specialty margaritas. Food and beverages will be prepared by four local competitors and attendees will vote on a winner at the end of the night. The winning combination will be offered as an Ely Folk School class in 2022. 

For an invitation to this exclusive event, visit the Ely Folk School Give to the Max portal and make a donation of at least $100. Giving started on November 1! The Ely Folk School will reach out upon donation with more details. 

Makers Mornings

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.

All are welcome, no matter skill level or (reasonable) project type. As we enter the darker months of winter, a space to share projects and work in a community setting are important! Drop in whenever as you like, for as long as you like. 

Instructor Spotlight: Charlie Cecil

What is currently your favorite class to teach?  The Birch Bark Canoe project because it is a great opportunity to engage the community in a beautiful and historically significant craft, and also because any teaching I do in that class is the result of my own continued involvement and learning over the years.

What do you love most about your craft? The synthesis of history, culture, craftsmanship, engineering, and northwoods spirit that this canoe represents. All materials for this canoe have been harvested from the area to be recombined into a functional work of art. I find that process to be equally fascinating and fulfilling. It also contributes to a deeper appreciation for the history of this area, the people native to it, and canoeing in general. 

How long have you been teaching or involved at EFS?  I began volunteering with the canoe project in the summer of 2017. My teaching has evolved slowly from there as I’ve grown more and more involved and experienced in canoe building and the EFS in general. I’m now excited to be expanding my teaching into other activities including hosting a community chess evening.  

What is one of your hidden talents or a fun fact about yourself? I can portage a canoe while playing a guitar

Monthly Sisu

The  Leino Forge at the Ely Folk School

Written by Alexia Springer

Emil A. Leino, born in Finland in around 1877, moved to Ely, Minnesota and was known around town as the local blacksmith. In some records Emil is listed as a drill sharpener for the mines. Phil Leino, Emil’s grandson, has donated the forge to the Ely Folk School and many materials for the current shop and classes. Forging has always been part of Phil’s life and he looks forward to sharing that passion with others. He has spent much of his life restoring and collecting forges in order to preserve the art of traditional blacksmithing. Phil grew up building what he needed, with help from his father who was a carpenter and owned a welder.

Phil says, “I would like the Leino Forge to be a place for others to come and learn or freely create.” 

Continue reading

Class Spotlight

Wearable Art: Embroidered Patches with Nora Rickey
$46  |  Saturday, November 13 at 10:00 am

We will begin the workshop by examining different kinds/styles of patches and how they’re worn, as well as popular history around how patches have been used. Students will learn different stitches that translate well into creating small pieces of wearable art. They will be able to workshop ideas and messages that will be created within small boundaries. 

The materials fee includes all you will need for the workshop and your patches. You’ll recieve an embroidery hoop, size 5 embroidery needles, fabric, and embroidery floss in a variety of colors. You are welcome to bring examples of patches that inspire you! 

November Class List

Sustainable Living with Andy Hill
  November 3 at 6:00 pm. – FREE

Build and Decorate a Bowl with Lyn Reed
  November 4 & 11 at 1:00 pm – $75

Chocolate Beet Brownies with Garden and Positive Produce Club at VCC
  November 5 at 5:00 pm – $15

Glaze a Hand Built Bowl with Lyn Reed
  November 11 at 1:00 pm – $50

Learn to Make Sage Derby Cheese: Live Online with Gary Colles
  November 11 at 2:00 pm – $40

Needle Felt a Cardinal: Live Online with Laura Berlage
  November 12 at 2:00 pm – $76

Meat Raffle at Zaverl’s Bar
  November 12 at 5:00 pm

The Maasepän Puukko with Paige May 
  November 13 & 14 at 9:00 am – $294

Wearable Art: Embroidered Patches with Nora Rickey
  November 13 at 10:00 am – $46

A Quiltmaker’s Journey: A Trunk Show and Lecture with Helen Smith Stone 
  November 13 at 2:00 pm – $20

Felted Crochet Wool Rug: Live Online with Laura Berlage
  Saturday, November 13, 20, 27 at 2:00 pm – $247

Papermaking with Sarah Elkins
  November 17 at 5:00 pm – $34

Using your Smart Phone for Art with Cecilia Rolando
  November 18 at 1:00 pm – $25

Give to the Max Day with GiveMN
  November 18  *early giving starts November 1

Donor Avocado & Margarita Night with Ely Folk School
  November 21 at 4:00 pm – $100

Writing from a Sense of Time and Place with Linda LeGarde Grover
  November 22 at 5:30 pm – $20

Thanksgiving Potluck
  November 25 at 3:00 pm – FREE

Stop by and Make Your Own Pot Pie with Lacey Squier
  November 27 at 10:00 am – $20

December Class List

Sustainable Living with Andy Hill

  December 1 at 6:00 pm – FREE

Linoleum Print Patches with Nora Rickey
  December 2 at 1:00 pm – $73

Two Parts: Bulk Individual Pot Pies Live Online with Lacey Squier

  December 2 at 7:00 pm & December 4 at 10:00 am – $48

Hammer & Tongs & More with the Forging Community
  December 3 at 5:00 pm & December 4 at 9:00 am – $140

Evening of Chess with Charlie Cecil
  December 4 at 6:00 pm – FREE

Printing with Gelli Plates with Cecilia Rolando
  December 9 at 1:00 pm – $45

Learn to Make Leiden: Live Online with Gary Colles
  December 9 at 2:00 pm – $40

Origami Ornaments with Alexia Springer
 December 9 at 5:00 pm – $24

Needle Felt a Snowy Owl: Live Online with Laura Berlage
  December 10 at 2:00 pm – $76

Ely Folk School Holiday Party
  December 11 at 2:00 pm – FREE

Homemade Beeswax Wraps with Sarah Elkins 
  December 16 at 6:00 pm – $34