September Class List


Fall is definitely here in the Northland with nighttime temps in the 30s and 40s and beautiful, crisp, sunny days. This weekend when normally the Harvest Moon Festival would be happening, the Ely Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring Harvest Days and inviting everyone to come out from behind their screens, enjoy the weather, and see what’s happening in town.

Here at the Ely Folk School, we’ll be enjoying gourd painting on Friday (please register online!), and a Taste of Blacksmithing class on Saturday morning, where there is room for two more participants, so don’t miss your chance. Our three wild rice harvesting classes are full as is our online Rosemaling class broadcast from the school on Saturday. Saturday at 5:00 we’ll welcome newcomers to Ely through Zoom and at the school, so do join us online from wherever you are and however long you’ve been part of Ely. Enjoy some history and anecdotes from the panel of oldtimers ready to entertain you and answer your questions, which you can submit online when you register.

Betty Firth,

Curious about Ely?

A very special event for new, existing, or future cabin and homeowners will be held at the Ely Folk School (and online via Zoom) on Saturday, September 12th from 5-6 PM CT.  Local experts will be on hand to answer questions that a newcomer might have, like:

  • Where are the best places to bike or bird watch?
  • Where can one get firewood?
  • Where can one rent a pontoon boat or snowmobile?
  • How does one find a handyperson to look after or do repairs on our place?
  • How can I find out where the good fishing holes are?
  • Where is Finn Hill and why is it called that?
  • How do we drain our pipes to prevent winter freeze-ups?

You’ll be able to add your question when you register for the class. A limited number of attendees will be allowed in person for distanced seating, or you can Zoom in.  Registration is required either way.

We hope you will join us for this free event!

Create a Natural Blue Stone Necklace

with Kay Vandervort


only 3 seats left

Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Tuition: $20  Materials: $15

Students will select stones for their necklace that are either primarily amazonite or a lapis/sodalite combination. Those stones will be combined with a variety of other beads that help to enhance the intricate colors in the stones.

Amazonite has a delicate, blue-green color and is said to calm the brain and nervous system and aid in maintaining optimum health. Lapis and sodalite range from a deep royal blue to navy. Lapis is said to contain properties that encourage self-awareness, allow self-expression, and reveal inner truth as well as stimulating objectivity, clarity and creativity. Sodalite is also said to promote creativity.

Although these necklaces are perfect for a dressy occasion, because of the layering of additional color and minerals in the stones, they are also perfect for a more casual dress. Students who wish to make both necklaces may purchase a kit at a discounted rate to complete the other necklace.

Kay will be wearing a mask while teaching and all participants will be asked to do so also. Additional COVID safety precautions will be in place including hand-washing and appropriate social distancing.

About the instructor: Kay Vandervort  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. Kay enjoys experimenting with many types of craft media, is a wizard with color and jewelry design, and has taught a variety of creative jewelry classes at the Ely Folk School.

Make a Bent Willow Chair

with John Bajda


Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020   6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020     9:00 AM – 4:00 pm

PLEASE NOTE the different class times on Wednesday and Thursday.

Tuition: $90, Materials $25

On Wednesday, John will demonstrate making a chair from start to finish, laying the groundwork for everyone to make their own chairs on Thursday. You will be amazed that you can make your one-of-a-kind, beautiful, functional, and comfortable chair in such a short time.

Because the willow is very flexible and springy, it is best to have a partner working with you to hold the willow as you nail the sticks in place. The partner does not need to pay unless they also make their own chair.

Please bring gloves, pruning shears, and safety glasses if you have them. The folk school will provide safety glasses and earplugs if you don’t have any. If you have an 18g air nailer that you can bring, please call the office to let us know. 218-235-0138. COVID precautions will be observed.

About the instructor: John Bajda is a retired high school teacher and has been teaching rustic furniture building though his local community ed program for the past 15 years.

Wild Rice Harvesting

with LynnAnne Vesper


Add to Wait ListFriday, September 11, 2020
8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Tuition: $80  Materials: $35

This class is also offered on Saturday, Sept. 12 and Sunday, Sept. 13.

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, and has taken Ely Folk School participants out ricing for several years. She has taught with Elderhostel programs, the Swedish and French Voyageur summer youth programs, Corcordia Language Villages and Vermilion Community College.

Paint a Gourd with Your Own Design


RegisterCome join us on Friday, Sept. 11, during Harvest Days and have fun painting a beautiful gourd with whatever you would like. You can bring a design or make it up as you go along. Paint, brushes, and gourds will be provided.

Reserve your time slot now, because there will be limited spaces due to COVID distancing and other precautions. If painting’s not your thing, stroll by to see the ceramics, rosemaling, and other beautiful crafts displayed in the front windows.

Online Live: Rosemaling in the Raudsaumsmaling Style

with Kim Garrett

Add to Wait List

Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020
9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Tuition: $30  

In this Zoom class students will learn about the Telemark style of Raudsaumsmåling, based on the bunad of that region of Norway. The instructor will discuss the color palette, examine different designs of the region and demonstrate the process of painting in this style as students follow along and practice at home. A design and supply list will be provided upon registration to provide the student opportunity to get supplies and background the project before class.

This class will be taught in oils, but acrylic painters are welcome and an acrylic palette will be provided.

Some basic experience with rosemaling is preferred as the instructor will not be covering basic technique.

Just an FYI…September 12th is National Rosemaling Day so come celebrate with a little painting!!

About the Instructor: Kim Garrett has been rosemaling since 2007 and has studied with several “Gold Medal” winning American rosemalers as has traveled to Norway three times to stud traditional 18th century rosemaling design with Norwegian rosemaling instructors. She has also taken lessons in Sweden in the Swedish folkart painting style, Dalmaining. She has won several blue ribbons at the MN state fair for her rosemaling and received the Best in Show twice.

A Taste of Blacksmithing

with Phil Leino


Saturday, September 12, 2020
10:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Tuition: $40  Materials: $10

This very popular class will give you a taste of what it’s like to work with metal and heat with the objective of creating a classic ‘S’ hook using basic blacksmithing techniques. Students will learn the proper color (temperature) to start forging, basic hammering techniques for elongating, bending and twisting metal and go home with a functional ‘S’ hook. Basic forge safety and management will be discussed.

The classes will be limited to four students. Students must bring protective, fire-resistant gloves, available at local hardware stores for under $10. Safety glasses and aprons will be provided but students should bring their own if they have them. Wear clothing appropriate for working with coals and intense heat. That means no synthetic clothing.

Social distancing and appropriate COVID restrictions will be in force. Students will be asked to wear masks when appropriate.

About the instructor: Phil Leino is intrigued by the process of taking a static material like iron and dynamically transforming it into something beautiful and useful. He has been instrumental in getting the Folk School blacksmith shop up and running.

Phil grew up in Ely hearing stories about his blacksmith grandfather and working with his Dad fabricating metal tools. After graduating with a Masters in botany and PhD in plant sciences, he picked up more metalworking skills along the way, which he has put to use making equipment needed in his research, creating a functional forge at a high school in Idaho, and demonstrating blacksmithing at Living History Farms in Iowa. He donated the first forge for the Ely Folk School, which was the first step of our blacksmith program.

Understanding Inflammation in Your Body

with Erika Barnhill


Tuesday, September 15, 2020
6:30 PM – 7:30 PM

Tuition: $15
Are you aware that chronic inflammation leads to disease in your body? There’s a lot of talk these days about health and inflammation, but what exactly is it? In this class you’ll learn what it is, what causes it, and how you can reduce it, also reducing the risk of disease.

Is Your Gut Healthy? Online Live

with Erika Barnhill


Wednesday, September 23, 2020
6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Tuition: $15

If you missed this class the first time it was offered, you will not want to miss it again to start getting healthier.

Do you have any of the following symptoms: bloating, acne, low energy levels, or fatigue Gut health is extremely important when it comes to having a healthy body. If the gut is unhealthy then the rest of the body is generally unhealthy because your system is not functioning well, and you’re not getting the nutrition your body and brain need to do well. In this class the pitfalls of having poor gut, how important it is to build a healthy gut, and ways to do that.

About the Instructor: Erika Barnhill has a passion to share her knowledge about nutrition and good health with others. She worked in a hospital setting with cardiac and pulmonary patients with many people who needed change and needed answers. A health crisis led her to learn how to take a more holistic approach to healing her own body through research, study, and prayer. She has a Bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and certification as a health and wellness coach.

Capturing Fall Colors

with Ken Hupila


RegisterSunday, September 27, 2020
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Tuition: $70

Be a part of an autumn tradition in the North Country – observing and photographing fall color! This class will provide a one hour orientation on techniques and equipment utilization while in the field. We’ll then take our gear into the Superior National Forest and look for numerous vistas, unique perspectives, cozy vignettes and macro work. With luck we may come across some forest critters as a bonus!

Bring lunch, camera and gear; manual, all lenses, tripod, remote release, circular polarizer (if you have it), and rubber boots. Dress for the weather. COVID precautions will be observed.

About the Instructor: Ken Hupila has been chasing wildlife around and enjoying the outdoors in northern Minnesota for over 60 years. He took his first wildlife image in 1964 and has been working on his craft ever since.

New fun and exciting classes are being posted all the time on our website


We still have a ways to go for our matching grant of $9,000.  Won’t you consider a gift to the Ely Folk School?  THANK YOU!
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