Our instructors are drawn from a wealth of talented teachers, including nationally known artists from across the country and across the street. They are innovative craftsmen and artists who enjoy trying new techniques and love sharing what they do with their students.
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After retirement as an architect, Hal Aavang was looking for a way to combine a practical skill with his lifelong love of working with metal, and to also use this skill as an art form. He found the blacksmithing program at Shake Rag Alley, and started with a basic blacksmithing class taught by Bob Tuftee using the traditional coal forge. In order to continue blacksmithing at home, the propane gas forge provided a clean and readily available forging heat for his projects. A MIG welder and oxy-acetylene torch added additional support for his home blacksmithing shop where he works on many pieces such as traditional hooks, fire pokers, flowers, custom live art tables, other art projects, and an expanding list of future works. Hal is a member of the Upper Midwest Blacksmith Association. He keeps, sells, donates to charitable causes, and displays his work, and accepts commissions.
Dick Anderson is a retired high school shop instructor with a passion for learning and building things. Having often taken the path less traveled, it has made all the difference. From building timber-framed covered bridges and log cabins to chainsaw wood carving, shoe making, and welded yard art, to name a few. Learning should be serious fun. Believe me when I say, “Crossing a bridge in your future will be a bit easier after you have built one or two.”
Jim Arendt retired from a long career as a teacher and YMCA director. “I became interested in willow furniture watching John Schakel, the master willow bender, give a demonstration at Woodlanders many years ago. Shortly after that I registered for Shake Rag Alley’s bent willow chair class with John. As fate would have it, I was John’s only student and through that class we developed a lasting friendship. Over the years I helped John gather the willow needed for a class and assisted him. I have built many chairs on my own, but some of my most cherished undertakings are the three youth willow chairs I have made for my three grandchildren. I was deeply honored when Shake Rag Alley contacted me to teach the Make a Bent Willow Chair class. I am looking forward to working with everyone in lovely Mineral Point.”
Lee Ann Behling
Lee Ann was fortunate to be raised in a creative and nature-loving family. She grew up camping and hiking all over the country, and her parent always nurtured and encouraged creativity. Her father taught himself woodworking and furniture making, and her mother has been a wood carver for over 35 years, following in the footsteps of her father and grandfather. Lee Ann loves the joy and the community that wood carving affords, and she looks forward to to share her craft with others.
Jane Bellante is an expert at helping people let go of negative thought patterns to create the art and personal brand they have always wanted with joy, confidence and ease. She has been a mixed media artist for 30 years, is a published artist and has a Masters Degree in Adult Education. She is founder of the 5 Day Letting Go Workshop, the Creating Confidently 5 week course, IGNITE your business cohort accelerator and is a married mother of 2 kids and 2 pets.
B.J. Best is an award-winning writer and educator. His interactive fiction And Then You Come to a House Not Unlike the Previous One won the 2021 Interactive Fiction Competition, the most prestigious annual competition in the field. In 2023, he finished second in the same competition with LAKE Adventure. B.J. has published seven books of poetry, most recently Everything about Breathing from Bent Paddle Press. He is also the author of more than fifty children’s nonfiction titles for grades K-2 through Cavendish Square. B.J. is a Professor of English and Interactive Arts at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
I am an American artist best known for producing one-of-a-kind works of art utilizing organic materials including leaves, copper, stone, paper, and natural dyes. The hues, forms, textures, and patterns of nature are portrayed in my artwork. The surroundings’ natural beauty inspires me. I find peace and joy while I’m out walking in the woods. My spiritual sanctuary and link to all of life is the woods. And I believe that utilizing my hands and natural materials to create anything ties me to all of humanity, both past and present. My spirituality and connection to nature is shown through my art. They serve as a reminder that we are all one and have a common origin. We are the globe because hand and hand are one.
Beki Borman was born and raised in the Milwaukee area of Wisconsin. She attended the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design where she received her BFA in painting in 2004. Since graduating, Beki has exhibited her work both locally and nationally. For Beki’s studio work she paints colorful and textural abstract landscapes in oil and acrylics using a combination of painting knife and brush techniques. Some of her influences include Vincent Van Gogh, Wolf Kahn, and Wayne Thiebaud. Beki works out of her studio in Waukesha, WI.
Nicole Bujewski is a French-trained pastry chef celebrated for her skills and innovative culinary creations. Her formal training took place under the tutelage of the renowned Chef Sébastian Canonne, M.O.F., and Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer at the prestigious French Pastry School. It was there that she meticulously honed her craft to perfection, setting the stage for her culinary career. Now living in Mineral Point, Nicole continues to impart her culinary wisdom as the Founder of The Book Kitchen, where she generously shares her knowledge and love for the culinary arts with students and enthusiasts across the globe, creating a bridge between her passions – food, teaching, and literature. Nicole, along with her husband, Steven, and their loyal canine companion, Ruby, have undertaken a remarkable venture as the proud tenth owners of Spensley Farm, a place of historic significance in Mineral Point. This property is a treasured part of the town’s heritage and holds a special place in their hearts. Nicole is also a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, a prestigious organization that celebrates and supports women in the food, fine beverage, and hospitality industries. She is a founding member of the Greater Madison Chapter.
I am a college student studying civil engineering. I started blacksmithing and took my first classes in blacksmithing at Shake Rag Alley six years ago. In addition to making many of my own forging tools, I produce work for sale and have taken on unique commissions such as producing early replica artists’ tools. I have given public demonstrations, taught classes, and am a member of the Upper Midwest Blacksmith Association. Most of all, I enjoy sharing my passion for blacksmithing with others. Some of my work can be seen at my Instagram site @driftlessmetalworks
Liz Carter is the current owner and resident artist of the Driftless Studio & Gallery here in Mineral Point, Wisconsin and currently resides in a little limestone cottage on Shakerag Street. From a zig-zag life journey starting in Minnesota and later out of Illinois, she has been released to pursue her life-long dream to create, and fully opened her studio producing clay sculptures and paintings for her gallery in Mineral Point.…Read More
Liz Carter is the current owner and resident artist of the Driftless Studio & Gallery here in Mineral Point, Wisconsin and currently resides in a little limestone cottage on Shakerag Street. From a zig-zag life journey starting in Minnesota and later out of Illinois, she has been released to pursue her life-long dream to create, and fully opened her studio producing clay sculptures and paintings for her gallery in Mineral Point.
Combining the love of the outdoors and of the Upper Midwest, she produces images of flora and fauna of the Driftless Region, the Southwest and areas of her native Minnesota in clay, watercolor, acrylic/oil and scavenged natural objects from the Mississippi River and Lake Superior.
One of the most popular sculptures that she has produced are morel mushrooms from clay. Because her foraging capabilities for the real mushroom are below average, she stumbled on a process to produce them in clay which mimic the real thing, which has been a popular item for sale in her gallery.
She is excited to provide that experience to others to create life-sized hanging or magnet morel mushroom ornaments for personal totems, and hopes you gain the same enthusiasm for creativity during this process.
Kate Church has a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design (1978), participated in winter study at Bellas Artes, San Miguel de Allende Mexico (1996-2011), is a NIADA
artist (niada.org), and affiliated with Craft Nova Scotia (craftnovascotia.ca).
The intention of my figurative work is to carry a silent imprint or sense of emotion through the posture and expression of the figure evolving in front of me. Built using a process that is movable throughout its construction, a tangible sense of emerging comes naturally to the finished sculpture. In fact, most of the figures can be altered and adjusted: Movement is part of their design.
Polymer clay, fabric, and found objects are the main materials I use in my work. My aim in teaching is to show and guide students in working with polymer clay and simple body form using cloth and wire.
Maday is a prolific art educator, published artist, and guild presenter based in the Midwest, committed to bringing innovation and artistry to the forefront of the work she creates. Her mission is to nurture artistic platforms across cultures and generations to foster creative work, while finding ways to minimize her environmental footprint.
Learning from cultural textile traditions and exchanging powerful stories continues to be a source of inspiration that Maday hopes to share with all. Her goal is to unify students with different skill sets and share her love of art and vibrant textiles. She combines paint, weaving, hand-stitching, machine sewing, and embroidery to infuse her creations with energy and pay homage to her Cuban upbringing. She loves the art of collaging and storytelling with new and pre-loved textiles; Janome machines keep up with her big, scrappy ideas every step of the way.
Maday’s work has appeared in the international publication Uppercase magazine (2022, 2020) the book Quilted (2019) and periodicals in her home state. She also presented virtually to the design students at the Indian Institute of Art & Design in New Delhi, India, in August 2020 and teaches at folk schools, quilt shops, and quilt shows. Let’s continue to learn together.
Michael deMeng is an assemblage artist from Vancouver, Canada, who exhibits and teaches throughout the world. He has three books exploring his methods: Secrets of Rusty Things, Dusty Diablos, and The Art Abandonment Project, published by NorthLight Books.
In his art, he addresses issues of transformation. Discarded materials find new and unexpected uses in his work; they are reassembled and conjoined with unlikely components, a form of rebirth from the ashes into new life and new meaning. Often using myth and legends as source material, Michael uses his assemblages as metaphors for the evolutions and revolutions of existence: from life to death to rebirth. These forms are examinations of the world in perpetual flux, where meaning and function are ever-changing.
David Eagan honed his blacksmithing basics while working at the Winona County Historical Museum in Minnesota in the 1970s. Today, he is one of the blacksmithing instructors during festivals at Folklore Village near Dodgeville and has a keen interest in cultivating the metalworking instincts in students of all ages. He has demonstrated and taught beginner-level sessions at Shake Rag Alley since 2009. David also teaches simple rustic wood projects, including tree branch wall hooks, door handles, picture frames and other useful creations using natural shapes and branchings of woody plants.
Dawn Flores is a painter, writer, and performer who teaches art nationally at botanical gardens, schools, museums, and art centers. She is creative director for The Forest Project, a collaborative effort documenting 60 acres of urban forest about to be clear-cut for development. A graduate of the New York Botanical Garden, she is faculty at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and has taught at the Corcoran in Washington, D.C., The Clearing in Door County, and returns each summer to Shake Rag Alley. Her strength as a teacher lies in her ability to understand, articulate, and nurture the creative process. She builds confidence in her students with humorous stories and a positive outlook on life.
Ryan Fox is a signature member of the American Watercolor Society as well as 6 state and regional societies- Northeast, Georgia, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and North Carolina (NEWS, GWS, IWS, PWS, MOWS, WSNC). Ryan has won awards in The American Watercolor Society (AWS), Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors, Missouri Watercolor Society, Georgia Watercolor Society (GWS), and Watercolor Society of North Carolina juried shows. His work has been featured in Watercolor Artist Magazine, Art of Watercolour, and Splash 15, 16, 19 & 20 hardcover books published by F+W Media. His instructional DVDs are marketed by Creative Catalyst Productions.
Helen Shafer Garcia
Helen Shafer Garcia is a painter, a mixed media, book arts and ceramics artist, and an award-winning illustrator. Helen’s watercolor illustrations have graced the cover of brochures, garden articles, and advertisements of numerous international resorts and magazines for more than 30 years. Awards include four San Diego Press Club First Place Awards of Excellence in Illustration for San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles Magazine. Her works and articles have been published in Southwest Art; Cloth, Paper, Scissors; San Diego Home and Garden Lifestyles, and Studios magazines. Helen holds a BA degree in fine arts with an emphasis in illustration and ceramics. She is a signature member of the San Diego Watercolor Society and teaches watercolor and mixed media workshops internationally and across the U.S.
Nathan Gieseke lives in Mineral Point with his wife and three boys. A carpenter by profession and an artist at heart, Nathan has a passion for glassblowing and theater and takes advantage of doing both whenever possible.