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, 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, 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 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.”
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.”
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.
I’m married and I have two young daughters. I’ve lived in Mineral Point all of my life. I love camping, crafting and cooking. I enjoy spending time with children and thought teaching a class at Shake Rag would be fun. My kids have always loved participating in the summer programs.
Youth Program Workshops
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.
Marianne Biagi is an artist living in Morrison, Illinois. Her award-winning beadwork has been shown throughout the United States, and featured in magazines and other publications. Her beadwork was included in the book The Best of Beadwork 2000. She has been teaching beadwork and bead embroidery for over 25 years.
Marianne is a creative maker and always seeking new techniques to express her ideas. In addition to beadwork, she is a skillful artist, working with metals, fabrics, dyes and textiles.
Kate Olsen Birner
I live in Mineral Point, the best small town in America! This is my 32nd year teaching elementary art; I am a practicing artist with work in a few galleries and have parcitipated in many shows over the years. Unless it is a commission from a client, most of my artwork starts out as a dream, so I work in a variety of media, depending on the dream.
Instructor Website: wwwkateolsenbirner.art
Carved directly in stone, my work combines traditional carving techniques with contemporary art ideas. I believe that the goal of contemporary art is to forge connections between people, and my interactive sculpture lets the viewer be a part of the creative process.
Indiana limestone is the fabric of many of our national monuments and landmarks. It is a container for national memories. Inherently, it is a fossil record of a specific time, around 380 million years ago. It is a blending of histories. In addition, I value it for its even, soft texture, neutral colors from warm to cool, and the feel of a sharp chisel biting into it.
Jean Brings is a long-time Madison, Wisconsin, resident. She is an artist who works in many mediums. Jean enjoys working with children and has donated time in the past to help with sets for plays the children put on. Knowing that an in-person theater project would not be scheduled in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she designed the finger puppets with this in mind. The show must go on!
Nicole Bujewski 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 specializing in pastries, breads, and cakes. She joined the French Pastry School as a chef instructor in 2013 teaching in both the L’Art de la Pâtisserie and L’Art du Gâteau programs. She currently serves as the instructional content director of The Butter Book, the school’s online educational portal, which offers subscribers courses and lessons on becoming better bakers from her remote home in the Driftless region of Mineral Point.
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.
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.
Mike led his first Shake Rag class at the age of fifteen during the second Woodlanders Gathering in 2003. Now a board member since 2012, Mike still enjoys helping with classes when needed, and he still comes to Woodlanders every year. You can find Mike on several of Shake Rag’s committees, such as Buildings and Grounds, Finance, and Development.
Kit: Yarn Dolls
“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 was an instructor at Blue Bar Quilts in Middleton, WI, from May 2017 to November 2019. I have been teaching at Ardyth’s Sew-n-Vac Shoppe since 2014. I also joined Janome America as part of their Artisan team in June 2020. My work has appeared in Uppercase magazine issues 46 and 47, Summer and Winter, respectively.
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.