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.”
The purpose of the Harry Nohr Woodturners club is to bring together people from all backgrounds to enjoy and learn the art/craft of wood turning. Whether the individual is a hobbyist, part-timer or professional turner, all are welcomed. The Harry Nohr Woodturners goal is to meet once a month to share ideas and techniques on woodturning and tools, trade wood and conduct demonstrations on wood-turning techniques. Meetings will be held primarily at facilities located on the University of Wisconsin-Platteville campus as the club is affiliated with UW-P and membership is composed of wood turners and students from the university community and the surrounding area.
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.”
I am 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 and guiding them through the fear and frustration and reflecting the joy they experience and cheering them on while they (re)discover their creative voice.
Kelly and Michael Bird
Michael and Kelly Bird are the married art team and the parents to four children and two grandchildren. Being in nature and exploring the outdoors has always been a favorite activity for the family to do together. From the Mississippi River to the drift-less areas of northern Iowa and Wisconsin, we discovered inspiring objects and landscapes that motivated us to create pieces of art that pay tribute to the many faces of nature we would see. We have dedicated years using the natural materials and combining them with elements we grow. The natural materials we use are sustainable, renewable, and can be acquired without destroying or negatively altering the environment where they are found.
Deirdre Birmingham and John Biondi started The Cider Farm in 2003 near Mineral Point. They may be the only orchard in the United States started for the purpose of making fermented (hard) ciders. Since cider is made like a wine, they wanted to grow English and French apple varieties that were developed for fermenting, like a wine grape is for wine. They had to make these trees themselves to get started. They now have approximately 16,000 certified organic apple trees and are still growing. They produce not just ciders but apple brandies sold throughout Wisconsin, Chicago and at their Cidery and Tasting Room on Madison’s West Side.
Nicole Bujewski and her husband, Steven, are the 10th owners of Spensley Farm, a property with a history so rich that it has earned a spot on the Wisconsin State Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places. Nicole is trained in the L’Art de la Pâtisserie program at the French Pastry School in Chicago. After earning her certificate, Nicole opened a small neighborhood bakery for five years, then joined the French Pastry School as a chef instructor teaching in both the L’Art de la Pâtisserie and L’Art du Gâteau programs. The Bujewskis envision Spensley Farm becoming the setting for small social gatherings, pop-up dinners, and extraordinary culinary events. Their goal is to educate and inspire others to achieve cooking excellence while making an important contribution to the Driftless Area’s land and community.
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 her 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 her 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.
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.
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.
I’m the cofounder of Madison Writers’ Studio, a private workshop for creative writers in Madison, and the author of two novels, Stiltsville and Sea Creatures, with a third on the way. I love working with writers of all levels of experience and skill, and I excel in intimate workshop settings where we deep dive into original work.
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.
Suzi Dillinger is a Wisconsin native currently living in northern California. Her passion is art quilting and creating hand-stitched original art. She encourages her students to make art that is personal and original while incorporating memorabilia that may otherwise be left tucked away in a drawer. Recycled materials are also encouraged.
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.
Cindy Fleming has been in Mineral Point for many years and has been a student, sometime instructor, and constant supporter of Shake Rag Alley. She loves to art and craft and is a dedicated dot enthusiast, rug hooker, and mosaic creator.
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.
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.