One of the Midwest’s top folk art schools is offering free online demonstrations and tutorials  during the coronavirus pandemic.

By Ginger Crichton
April 06, 2020
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The clacking rhythm of looms and pounding of hammers normally sound year-round at North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minnesota. The school, which recently expanded its North Shore campus, hosts 3,000-plus students at 400 classes in a typical year.

But this is not a typical year, and all classes have been cancelled through May 17 because of the coronavirus crisis.

The school, though, wants to reach out during this difficult time, offering crafts that can be calming and inspiring. A free “Crafting in Place” series is evolving as instructors offer to share their skills.

Instructor Beth Homa Kraus, for instance, led two North House interns through a Birch Bark Jar Cozy project live on Instagram. Viewers were invited to ask questions throughout the process and watch two beginning basket makers learn the craft.

Birch Bark Jar Cozies
| Credit: Courtesy of North House Folk School

“Building a sense of community is the foundation of our organization,” says Greg Wright, executive director of North House Folk School. “While we are unable to physically gather, relish the joy of working with our hands and both bake and break bread together at this time, we are able to continue to learn from each other and celebrate the power of community and craft in these challenging times.”

Christine Novotny, North House's artisan development program resident, offered a live floor loom weaving demo on Instagram. She walked viewers through the process of weaving and answered questions live.

Christine Novotny
| Credit: Courtesy of North House Folk School

Bakers have gotten some ideas, too. North House instructor Kim Ode created a video with three key tips for making bagels and shared her recipe as part of North House's Crafting in Place initiative, inspiring many North House staff and students to make bagels for the first time. Here's one batch made by North House staffer Joe:

Credit: Courtesy of North House Folk School

Other recent programs focused on hide tanning, jewelry-making, rosemaling and woodworking.

New video schedules are announced weekly on Fridays via the school’s free e-newsletter. Crafters also are encouraged to post what they are working on with the hashtag #stillcrafting on Instagram.