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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Hal Aavang was looking for a hobby after retirement and found Shake Rag Alley. Hal started with a blacksmithing class taught by Bob Tuftee and got bitten by the bug in his first class. After taking several classes using a coal forge, Hal decided on a more modern approach to blacksmithing with a gas forge, MIG welder, and oxy-acetylene torch. He has a home blacksmithing shop and has worked on many pieces from traditional hooks and fire pokers, to tomahawks and flower sculptures. Hal is a member of the Upper Midwest Blacksmith Association. He either keeps, recycles, or donates his work.
Dick Anderson is a retired high school shop instructor with a passion for learning and building things. Having often taken the path less traveled has made all the difference and led him from building timber-framed covered bridges and log cabins to chainsaw wood carving, shoe making, and welded yard art, to name a few. Dick believes 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.”
I am a mixed media artist, instructor, author, and designer from New York City. My artwork has been exhibited in multiple exhibitions and can be found in numerous books and national magazines. I am the voice behind The Pulse, a series of international, collaborative projects that are the basis of my two books The Pulse of Mixed Media and The Mixed-Media Artist, both published by North Light Books. I am the artist behind six mixed media workshop DVDs, also from North Light. I am an instructor at Pratt Institute in NYC and my live workshops have been held throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, and the United Kingdom. I am a member of AFCI and design product lines with Spellbinders Paper Arts, StencilGirl Products, Impression Obsession, and PaperArtsy.
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 have helped John gather the willow needed for a class and have 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.”
Nicole Austin is a mixed-media artist, designer, and instructor from San Jose, CA (currently residing in Tempe, AZ) with a BA in creative arts. “I believe that everyone has a unique style and desire to create and that we are born curious and creative. Over the years, many of us are discouraged from following our creative urges, but I believe it is never too late to begin (or begin again!). I love to encourage my students to draw from their own experience when creating art and to have the courage to take chances. My art is messy, colorful, layered, and fun. I have been drawn to the creative arts since I can remember. My first canvas was pretty much every surface in my grandma’s house: the walls, the books, underneath the marble coffee table in the dining room (she didn’t find out until YEARS later and it remains one of her treasured possessions!). I loved playing school and ‘art gallery’ and my dream was to be an artist and teacher. I love the energy that my students bring to class. I love hearing their stories, guiding them through the fear and frustration, reflecting the joy they experience, and cheering them on while they (re)discover their creative voice.”
Serena loves to provide an atmosphere where you can discover or rekindle your creative abilities. She provides lots of individual attention and feedback as desired. Her goal is to help you learn, experiment, and have fun!
Serena lives in Portland, OR, where she offers creativity and art workshops, groups, and individual art coaching. She exhibits and sells her work in galleries and online. She teaches around the United States and in Europe. She is a contributor to several art books and magazines. Her books, Wabi-Sabi Art Workshop and Wabi-Sabi Painting with Cold Wax are published by North Light.
Linda has 35-plus years of teaching under her belt, and enjoys teaching sewing. Since her retirement, she spends time volunteering and speaking for numerous organizations.
Jill is a mixed media artist who makes books, maps, paintings, and other storytelling structures. She works in mixed media with a bent toward classical art and teaches painting, lettering, journaling, mapmaking, and various other mixed media classes worldwide.
You can her work in Somerset Studio, Letter Arts Review and Cloth, Paper Scissors, Art Journaling magazine, Drawing Lab, Journal It! The Complete Decorated Journal, 1000 Artists’ Books, and various other publications. She has written three books: Personal Geographies: Explorations in Mixed-Media Mapmaking and Map Art Lab and Making Art From Maps. Her artists’ books are in private and public collections nationwide.
Jill feels that art is necessary and accessible to everyone.
Tom Cabezas is a Mineral Point wood-worker and mixed media artist. He has been designing and building unique quality furniture since 1991. With a background in sculpture and a deep respect for craftsmanship and detail Tom strives to create work that does not attempt to place form over function or function over form. His work has been shown nation-wide and has won numerous awards. Tom earned an MFA in sculpture from UW-Madison.
Clarissa Callesen is a sculptor working with found objects and recycled textiles. Her work is inspired and informed by her choice of untraditional materials. In choosing this medium, it is her objective to explore the margins and to find beauty and value in that which our society has discarded. Clarissa has exhibited her art throughout the US, including the Museum of Northwest Art and solo exhibitions in Seattle, WA, Bellingham, WA, and Boise, ID. She was an artist in residence at Playa Artist Program in Summer Lake, OR, Brush Creek Foundation in Saratoga, WY, and Surel’s Place in Boise, ID. Her work has appeared in the books “Who’s your Dada?” and “Art without Waste”. Clarissa has been sharing her passion for creativity for 10 years both nationally and internationally. Her teaching style is down to earth and fun; embracing spontaneity and cherishing “mistakes”.
Nate Chambers has owned and operated his own stone mason business in Mineral Point for several years. With many stone and brick homes in this area, Nate is never without work. His skills include tuckpointing, landscaping, laying stone pathways, and creating beautiful fireplaces and other new construction projects in stone. An entrepreneur, veteran, school board member, and family man, Nate is a strong supporter of Shake Rag Alley and its mission for historic preservation.
“I fell in love with woodcuts as a student at Northwestern. When I moved to Iowa County I began to concentrate exclusively on woodblock carving and printing. I discovered that hand painting added a wonderful dimension. My prints support me and my menagerie of subjects. I have work in galleries in Wisconsin and Iowa.”
“Combining the line and form of sculpture with the playful animation of puppetry has been my primary work for more than twenty years. I stumbled into it while working with the renowned Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia, an international children’s puppetry company. During a quiet winter of refurbishing shows, a friend and colleague decided we needed to be doing something creative and proposed we all make an art doll. Enchanted from the first moment, that little figure sits in my studio charming me to this day. I spend my creative time in both Nova Scotia and in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. In Mexico, I have studied and developed work in multiple disciplines including life drawing, printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, and painting. It has been my way of evolving and challenging the figurative work. I am proud to have created figures for P’lovers stores throughout the Maritimes. I created a cast of character dolls for Cirque du Soleil and they have sold my original figures and reproductions at their retail shops and shows around the world. Presently, a considerable amount of my time is spent traveling and teaching where I share the techniques I have developed over the past twenty years and which I use in creating my signature work. My work has appeared in chosen fine art galleries, national magazines, and special exhibits.”
Joe began making pottery in 1999 at Cornell College. He went on to make pots at Haystack School of Crafts and the Rochester Folk Art Guild before being accepted for a two-year apprenticeship with internationally renowned wood-fired potter Mark Hewitt in Pittsboro, NC. After his apprenticeship, Joe was a journeyman potter for Dover Pottery and King’s Pottery in the historic pottery community of Seagrove, NC. He also worked with local ceramic materials development at STARworks Ceramics, and taught wood-firing and kiln building at Central Carolina Community College. In 2008, Joe and his wife, Christy, moved to Wisconsin and established Windy Ridge Pottery. Along with wood kiln design, building, and firing, Joe is also known for his experience in green glazing and utilizing local and regional materials in glazes. The pots he creates are notable for their classic functional forms and rich surfaces. Joe is also a talented finish carpenter and dad to three-year-old Cleo.
As an art educator living in the Midwest, I’m passionate about sustainability and urban gardening, committed to maintaining a public garden space in the downtown area where I reside with my family. I spent my formative years living in Cuba, where I was born, and migrated to the United States as a teen, settling in NYC in the ’90s. My professional background is in the banking industry. I switched careers over five years ago and now lead workshops in a variety of mediums such as textiles and paints, while working full time.
In all workshops, I encourage sustainability as a way to build confidence and community, with a back-to-basics approach and consciousness about resource use/waste. I have led workshops in Wisconsin and Minnesota on a variety of subjects, led Accuquilt club at Nancy’s Notions for two years ending in 2017 and have been an ongoing instructor at Blue Bar Quilts in Middleton, WI, since May 2017.
I focus on the perfectly imperfect aspects of discovery by exploring new tools and techniques to expand on experimentation as a means to living a satisfying, creative life. I’m a firm believer that creating with purpose and intention and cultivating creativity and whimsy in others can be the beginning of a transformative and healing future.
Michael deMeng is an assemblage artist based in Vancouver, Canada, who exhibits throughout the United States. As an educator, he has been actively involved with VSA Montana, providing art education and encouraging participation in the arts to people with disabilities. Through these activities, as well as his artwork, deMeng fosters community awareness, and offers creative methods to explore the human experience. 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. These assemblages are metaphors for the evolutions and revolutions of existence: from life to death to rebirth, from new to old to renewed, from construction to destruction to reconstruction. These forms are examinations of the world in perpetual flux, where meaning and function are ever-changing.
Suzi Dillinger is a quilt artist and instructor focusing on surface design techniques and hand stitching. She enjoys creating one-of-a-kind fabrics and art cloth. Bright colors are a favorite, regardless of the subject matter. A Wisconsin native, Suzi creates and lives in Northern California.
Deb Donaghue took her first metal class in her early 20s. Study and research took her and her husband, Jeff, to India. While her intention was to continue working with metal, when she returned, life, jobs, a child, and then their own business intervened. Deb and Jeff moved to Mineral Point from the Twin Cities in 1996 and opened The Brewery Creek Inn and Brewpub in 1998. In 2007 her daughter introduced her to chain maille and from there her long-buried interest in working with metal grew. Deb continues her studies independently as well as weekly at Madison Area Technical College. She has jewelry for sale at Longbranch Gallery here in Mineral Point and teaches several basic metalworking classes each year at Shake Rag Alley.
Michael Donovan, as both artisan and artist, divides his time between innovative carpentry and far out sculptural assemblages, often featuring detritus of old houses he has worked on. He also enjoys working in found object mosaic concrete sculpture and collage. He brings a solid knowledge of tools and construction to the creative possibilities of assemblage sculpture.
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.