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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“I seek out the cast off, the unwanted, the lost and forgotten. My subjects are steeped in nostalgia and speak to the past. I am interested in the places where sadness and longing linger. I am attracted to decaying landscapes and spaces where metaphor and myth dance together. I look for the place where dreams, memory, and trauma intersect. My work is about exploring the location in the mind between seeing and knowing. I mapping a place in memory that may have never been.”
Lorraine Reynolds is a mixed media artist who works in fiber, assemblage, collage, video, and installation. A storyteller by nature, she uses reclaimed materials to help further the narrative in her work. She holds an MFA in visual art from Vermont College of Fine Art. Lorraine has taught and exhibited her work regionally as well as nationally. When she is not working in her studio or teaching, she is employed in the fashion industry as a technical designer. She lives in Mineral Point with her husband, son, and two enormously affectionate German Shorthair Pointers. She has served on the board of Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts since 2015.
Christine Rice’s novel Swarm Theory was recently awarded the Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year Award (Honorable Mention), an Independent Publisher Book Award (Silver for Best First Book), and a National Indie Excellence Award – Winner (Regional Fiction – Midwest). Swarm Theory also made PANK’s Best Books of 2016, was included in Powell’s Books Midyear Roundup, the Best Books of 2016 So Far, and was called “a gripping work of Midwest Gothic” by Michigan Public Radio’s Desiree Cooper. Most recently, her short stories
have been published in BELT’s Rust Belt Anthology, The Literary Review, American University of Beirut’s Rusted Radishes, F Magazine, and online at Roanoke Review and Bird’s Thumb, among others. Her essays, interviews, and long-form journalism have appeared in The Rumpus, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Big Smoke, The Millions, the Chicago Tribune, Detroit’s Metro Times, among other publications, and her radio essays have been produced by WBEZ Chicago. Christine taught in Columbia College Chicago’s Fiction Writing Programs for over 20 years, is currently the managing editor of Hypertext Magazine, and director of the social
justice storytelling nonprofit organization Hypertext Magazine & Studio.
Short Story – Writing Retreat
Manuscript Consultations – Writing Retreat
Dave was looking for a hobby after retirement and found Shake Rag Alley. He started with a welding class with Bob Tuftee who suggested he try blacksmithing. After taking several classes using a coal forge, Dave decided on a more modern approach to blacksmithing with a gas forge, MIG welder, and oxy-acetylene torch. Dave has worked on many pieces from traditional hooks and fire pokers, to tomahawks and flower sculptures. He sells his work at a local craft studio and is a member of UMBA (Upper Midwest Blacksmith Association).
Bob Ristow has been interested in Shaker Oval Boxes ever since he visited the Canterbury Shake Village in New Hampshire. To advance his knowledge in box making, he attended several classes taught by John Wilson at the Home Shop in Charlotte, MI. Since then, Bob has demonstrated these procedures at several woodcarving clubs in IA, MN as well as at a number of rustic retreats as far away as Montana. He is always experimenting with different woods, shapes, and sizes to make these boxes. His other interests include woodcarving, wood turning, winemaking and fiber arts.
Jamie Rogness is a highly creative and versatile artist who works in a broad range of mediums, predominently using natural materials. She is a master woodcarver, working with both hand and power tools to create intricate sculptures from tree branches and exquisite designs on ostrich eggs. Her concrete leaf castings are beautifully realistic. She has taught a variety of classes at the annual Woodlanders Gathering at Shake Rag Alley for over 10 years, including handsome, handmade lampshades with a touch of nature.
Mark Russell has been creating landscape and nature paintings for more than 20 years. Through his workshops, he enjoys sharing information and techniques with an emphasis on exploration and creating within individual styles. His workshops are a mix of hands-on experimentation and instructor demos with an emphasis on encouragement, exploration, and creativity for participants of all levels.
Mark’s oil paintings focus on landscape and nature. Surface provides inspiration: the texture of a rock, the edges of a cloud, the reflections and movement in water, the veil of light on a hazy day. He builds layer upon layer to the surface of his paintings, through a process of scraping, rubbing, adding and subtracting. As in nature, some moves are bold while others are more subtle, like the trickle of a stream on a mountainside or the constant motion of waves on a rocky beach. Each painting starts with a plan and, at times, can veer off path to reveal a surprise.
He has exhibited his work in group shows with galleries and museums across the country. He has won numerous awards and is an Illinois Arts Council Grant recipient. His paintings are included in private and corporate collections. Previously, Mark was an award-winning designer focusing on consumer goods packaging graphics. He holds degrees from DePaul University and the American Academy of Art in Chicago.
Richard Salley began working with metals in 1969 as an assistant to a metal sculptor in Carmel, CA. He later had a gallery/studio featuring his own brand of metal sculpture before becoming a full-time teacher. He continued to dabble in metals over the years and took his first jewelry workshop in 2002 with found object jewelry artist Keith LoBue. This renewed his interest in metalwork and took him on a new path creating wearable art. After 32 years as a public school teacher, Richard retired to devote his time and energy to making jewelry and teaching others to do the same.
Buckles, Bolos and Barbed Wire: The Art of the Buckle
Buckles, Bolos and Barbed Wire: The Bolo Tie
Buckles, Bolos and Barbed Wire: Barbed Wire Cuff
We regret to share the sad news that legendary self-taught bent willow master artist and Shake Rag Alley instructor John Schakel passed away recently.
As we savor our memories of John, we share this wonderful profile of him written before Shake Rag Alley was founded as a school of arts and crafts. You can also hear and see John in action at a past Woodlanders Gathering.
I started working with metal in 2000. I moved in and took over my husband’s small motor repair shop and began fabricating lawn ornaments. I began incorporating blacksmithing into my work after going to a thresher man’s show. My husband built me a forge and we started going to every blacksmith event we could find. Afterward, I would go back to my shop and practice what I learned from the demonstrator. In 2005 I was introduced to copper. It was the same thing all over again. Learn and practice. I enjoy working with both metals. Blacksmithing may have been my first love, but copper is my passion. I most enjoy the designing and teaching others how to create pieces in copper. I cannot admit that I am self taught for I have learned from demonstrators and the many friends who have encouraged and supported me. I am fortunate to be able to teach, demonstrate, and share what I have learned over the years Ð to pass it on, as they may say. My husband and I are members of IVBA, UMBA, IBA, ABANA and SOFA. I have enjoyed every minute of learning both of these fine crafts.
Nick Scheuer has been carving birds since he was a Boy Scout 40 years ago. He has developed a coloring system as popular as his rustic, whittled, carving style. His colorful songbird carvings may be seen at Longbranch Gallery in Mineral Point.
Eva Sherman began beading as a way to spend time with her daughters but soon became hopelessly addicted. In 2005 she traded in her architectural career for the opportunity to spend all her time among beads, and opened Grand River Bead Studio in Cleveland, Ohio. Eva now happily spends most days in the studio creating, writing, and teaching, but has been known to take her show on the road. She has discovered an affinity for working with wire and metals, and prefers to design in an organic and unstructured style. Eva has authored two books on jewelry design: Organic Wire & Metal Jewelry and Cool Copper Cuffs.
Shawn Shiflett is the author of the novel Hidden Place, which has received rave reviews from newspapers, literary magazines, and “Connie Martinson Talks Books” (national cable television, U.K. and Ireland). Library Journal included Hidden Place in “Summer Highs, Fall Firsts,” a 2004 list of most successful debuts. He received an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship for his work and was a three-time finalist for the James novel-in-progress contest, sponsored by the Heekin Group Foundation. New City Newspaper elected Shiflett to their Chicago Lit 50 list, an annual ranking of top figures in the Chicago Literary scene. His essay, “The Importance of Reading to Your Writing,” was published in the U.K. in 2013. His novel, Hey, Liberal!, has received stellar reviews and acclaim from Booklist, the Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Review, Newcity Lit, Windy City Review, Mary Mitchell (Chicago Sun-Times), Rick Kogan (WGN Radio), and others. His dream story, “Napalm Deja” vu,” was recently nominated for Hypertext Magazine’s The Best American Short Stories Award.
New Novel Pages – Writing Retreat
Manuscript Consultations – Writing Retreat
Cheryl Smeja is a Mineral Point leather artist, nationally known for her pioneering work in wet-formed leather sculpture. She has appeared on The Carol Duvall Show, taught at national leather conventions and has had articles published in The Leather Crafters and Saddlers journal. For over 25 years she sold her formed leather masks, wall hangings, jewelry, pots, and more at art fairs and from her Mineral Point gallery/shop. Now semi-retired, Cheryl enjoys pursuing other interests such as needle felting, wire jewelry, polymer clay, paper making, and Photoshop image manipulation. Cheryl serves on the Shake Rag Alley Curriculum Committee. A versatile artisan and dedicated teacher, Cheryl is ever ready for a new challenge.
Dan Soman has been a Woodlander since the Wisconsin event began in 2000. He’s taken many different classes, apprenticed with some of the “masters,” and has taught at Woodlanders, at Shake Rag Alley’s Garden Getaway, and at Olbrich Gardens. He’s very handy with tools and materials, but especially likes traditional willow work such as teepee trellises, and he likes working with gourds, also.
Carole Spelić creates a variety of artworks from many media. Originally from the East Coast, she earned her MFA and then spent 17 years as a productive artist in Manhattan. She now lives in Mineral Point and works at Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts. Check out her music output with bands Point Five and Stay Tuned! Carole and her partner, artist Richard Moninski, own the Green Lantern Studios where they create their artwork, cuddle Lena the cat, and enjoy the downtown vibe.
I was first drawn to Japanese woodblock printmaking through my study of Japanese kites. The delicately applied and boldly colored designs on many Japanese kites were made using the Moku Hanga method. It was exciting to find a printmaking method that was free of solvents, power tools, and required only a small table-top-sized space. Through Japanese woodblock printmaking I have been able to explore my love for nature and portraiture. Woodblock printmaking allows me to pare these subjects down to what I find essentially beautiful about them. I have a BFA in drawing from Northern Illinois University. My work has been featured in regional, national, and international shows and can be found year-round at the Longbranch Gallery in Mineral Point and the Woodwalk Gallery in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin.
I am a fiber artist for the NWTC (Northeast Wisconsin Technical College) Artisan and Business Center. I assist clients with finishing their long-arm quilting projects or sewing projects. I also teach crocheting, natural and synthetic dyeing, weaving, and I have just learned spinning. I have also been a costumer in the Brown County area for the last 26 years.
Teresa is an Accredited McGown Teacher and director of North Central McGown Teachers Workshop (NCMTW) in Dubuque, IA. The NCMTW is held annually in late April in Dubuque. The annual week-long workshop encourages individuals to learn rug hooking techniques and achieve their McGown Accreditation. She is a member of both the Association of Traditional Hooking Artists and the National Guild of Pearl McGown Rug HooKrafters. Owner of Black Earth Woolens, Teresa has been designing rugs for over 15 years and is experienced with doing florals, geometrics, pictorials, monochromatic, faces, impressionism, paisleys, primitives, water, light reflection, tessellations, kaleidoscope, mandalas, dip dyes, swatches, and rug braiding.
Rug hooking has been a journey of learning various techniques, expressing her desire to create patterns, color planning, dyeing wool and the joy of meeting fiber artists. Teresa works with recycled wool/new wool and enjoys fine cut to primitive pieces. Teresa is a seasoned traveler and with her 20 years of experience teaching, she is excited to share rug hooking techniques and experiences.
Diane Sterba was the first Youth Program Director at Shake Rag Alley where she organized and taught classes for kids, taught adult classes, facilitated art retreats and ran a weekly Women’s Art Party, still thriving today, in which women come together to play with art “as a process, not for the product.” With a Masters in Education and over 30 years teaching experience from preschool through graduate levels, Diane loves inspiring others to access their creative self. As an artist she explores her creativity through a wide variety of media and is influenced by folk art, nature and the children and adults she works with.