The success of the Porcupine Mountains Folk School depends heavily on the efforts and talents of our instructors and our volunteers. Please read about our talented group below. They are listed in alphabetical order.
Heidi Bukoski has been involved with fiber arts since childhood. She started knitting and sewing in grade school. In high school her mother taught her to weave. (She comes from a family of artists in various mediums.) In college she studied weaving and learned to spin yarn. She has taken numerous classes in spinning, weaving, and felting, both traditional wet and dry (needle felting), over the years.
In 1977 she taught her first class, which was in natural dyeing. Her teaching experience encompasses a wide range of skills and topics since that time. This includes lecturing and hands-on teaching at different guilds, Community Education classes, and currently as an instructor for the Michigan Fiber Festival. She has also done demonstrations for schools, libraries, and events. Her students have ranged in age from kindergarteners to retirees.
She has exhibited her work at art and county fairs throughout Lower Michigan. She has won State Show ribbons for both knitting and locker hooking. Her work was published in the book Approaching Design Through Nature.
Don Chastan – Woodworking
Don moved to the Ontonagon area with wife Susan, from Washington Island, Wisconsin in 2010. He served as maintenance assistant at Rock Island State Park in Wisconsin. Don began woodworking eight years ago, and has built benches for Rock Island State Park and to benefit a silent auction for the Barbara Kettle Gundlach Shelter. He enjoys collecting antique hand tools, and working with many different kinds of woods, including “exotic” wood such as zebrawood, and birdseye maple. He has done numerous home repairs and has made signs. He is also a Master Scuba Diver, and has been diving since 1970 in the Great Lakes, inland lakes, the Florida Keys, and in the Caribbean. He is a member of the Ontonagon County Search and Rescue team, as well as working on the Open Circle Simply Soup dinners. He is currently building a canoe.
My glassworking career began with a traditional stained glass class in Hayward, CA in 1978 at an Adult Education program. I continued to study various glass techniques including design, fusing, painting, casting/pate de vere, kiln construction and lampworking at the Fenton Glass Studio in Oakland, CA. I began blowing glass at San Francisco State University in the summer of 1981.
In 1996 I moved my studio from Alameda, CA to my families homestead in Perronville, MI. That year I began blowing glass and teaching glassworking classes full time with my partner, Chuck Pritchard of Kiel, WI. Together we worked as demonstrating artists for the Bristol Renaissance Fair and the Fort Lauderdale Renaissance Fair for 3 seasons. We also secured countless commissions and produced numerous award-winning glass pieces, with our paperweights being included in the permanent collection at the Bergstrom-Mahler Paperweight Museum, Neenah, WI. Our blown glass work is also part of the permanent collections at the Oshkosh Public Museum and Bay de Noc Community College.
Due to his death in 2009, I moved the glassblowing shop to the Historic Steam & Gas Village at the Escanaba State Fairgrounds where I give glass blowing demonstrations and teach workshops.
I’m also presently on the faculty of Bay de Noc Community College in Escanaba, MI teaching Moldmaking for Glass and continue to teach various glassworking classes all over the United States.
I also support myself doing stained glass restoration and new construction as well as creating new fused and cast glass pieces for sales in numerous galleries.
Most recently, sustainable living has motivated most of Dar Fredrikson’s creative process. She enjoys the self imposed challenge to find functional forms for both reusable and found natural materials. Some of the materials she has chosen to investigate and use are cedar shingles, woolen fabrics, birch bark, spruce trunks and roots, sweet grass, local clays, driftwood, cones, wintergreen plants, candle wax, grape vines and bear fat. She is a certified K-12 art teacher who is trained and experienced as a fine artist. Her past employment has served a variety of populations across Michigan and in Illinois. Dar holds a L.P.C. in Michigan. She took her M.Ed. in Art Education and Art Therapy from Wayne State University, Detroit. Her poetry, prose, and photographs have been published, and pen and ink illustrations copyrighted. Otherwise, many of her watercolor paintings and etchings are in private collections. With her husband Bob and English setter Gandhi, Dar enjoys summer and fall in Ontonagon County and winter near Detroit.
Henry Kisor is a retired literary editor of the Chicago Sun-Times as well as the author of three nofiction books and four mystery novels. He has been a summer visitor to “The Porkies” since 1966. His wife, Debby Abbott Kisor, is a children’s book critic and author. Together they spend their summers in a cabin that Debby’s father built in 1947 on the shore of Lake Superior in Green, MI.
I live in Bergland on Lake Gogebic with my husband of 48 years. We have two children and now have 6 grandchildren. I graduated from Gogebic Community College with a degree in accounting with a computer programming specialty. I went to work for the Forest Service in Ontonagon for approximately 16 years and then in Bessemer, MI until I retired in 2005.
Before going to college at the age of 43 I had been teaching needlework, crafts and landscape painting through the Intermediate School Offices. I taught at the Bergland and White Pine schools and also at the Ewen and Bruce Crossing Senior Centers.
Judy Hiltunen ~ Painting for Adults and Children I’ve always enjoyed the colors and shapes of Gods creation. I first expressed myself in gardening trying to create a palette of exciting colors and shapes. Then I discovered painting. I’ve been painting for about 12 years and have taken lessons from many different teachers in Michigan and Nevada both in oil and water-color. My husband and I travel alot and spend a few months every year in Nevada. I am a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and enjoy doing things with my family. I love to read,walk and cross country ski. I’m a retired real- estate agent.
Melissa Hronkin ~ Encaustics and Beeswax
Melissa Hronkin is an artist, teacher, and beekeeper. As an artist she works with beeswax and other found objects in the process of encaustic painting. Her most productive art-making time is winter. That is a time for repose and solitude when she turns inward. Melissa hopes that her work in encaustics and beeswax will bring awareness to the recent plight of the honeybee and its surrounding industry.
Melissa holds an MA in Art Education, MFA in Visual Studies, and BFA in Photography and Drawing. More can be found out by going to her blog: www.melissa-hronkin.blogspot.com.
Steve Kickert – Square Dancing Instructor and Caller I’ve been with the Forest Service for 21 years, but my square dance calling is not part of my Forest Service job. I am the Conservation Education Coordinator for the Ottawa National Forest. As far as getting started calling, I have to tell you my parents were members of a square dance club and I thought it was the silliest thing I ever saw. They dressed up in strange dresses and cowboy shirts even though we lived in Chicago. How embarrassing! On top of that, when I was in the 8th grade we had a squared dance and I was the worst dancer in the school. At least in my mind. So it would appear that I was not destined to be a caller. THEN, when I graduated from college at Murray State University with a in minor in recreation, I was offered a job at Cumberland Falls State Park in KY on the condition I would learn to call square dancing. I needed a job, so I said fine. I learned to call and discovered that I was no longer the uncoordinated 8th grader and that I actually enjoyed the dancing. It didn’t hurt that there were lots of girls at the dances and that they were impressed with a guy that could dance. The dancing was for park visitors who had never had lessons, but many families had been coming to the park for many years and knew the dances. We danced 7 nights a week at the park and usually had between 240 and 400 people at the dances. Later I decided to learn how to dance and call Western Style Square Dancing where they wear the funny costumes I found so disgusting when I was younger. I probably called and taught western style square dancing for about 15 years. In that style of dancing, the dancers learn movements or calls and the caller puts them together randomly with the dancers not knowing what the caller will say. That’s opposed to more traditional or old time dancing where the dancers learn an entire dance and know what will be called. Now I’ve returned to my roots of doing dances for families and groups.
Vicki Kmiecik – Certified Ross Instructor Vicki has been a certified Bob Ross instructor since July, 2007. “In 1983, I started watching Bob Ross on public television. Like thousands of others, I was mesmerized by his soft voice and easy style.” As Vicki raised three children, she considered teaching and began in 2007. She has been hosting studio and private painting parties since then. Vicki lives and works in the Peshtigo, WI area. You can access the Bob Ross method through her website,www.paintwithvicki.com. History of the Bob Ross style: Bob Ross was raised in Florida and began a military career, which sent him to Alaska. There, he first saw snow and mountains that later became some of the recurring themes in his artwork. He was the host of the PBS series THE JOY OF PAINTING, which aired from January 11, 1983 to May 17, 1994 and still appears in reruns. The series demonstrated oil painting using a “wet-on-wet” technique that minimized the color palette and reduced painting to simple steps anyone can follow.
Jim Lohmann I have been a professional designer/woodcarver for 35 years with commissioned work all over the country including, The Tribune Tower in Chicago, Harvard University, Andover Academy, Noack Organ Company to name a few. Although I am a decorative woodcarver I really enjoy traditional and ethnic folk music. As a sideline I make rhythm bones just for the “fun of it” and started to provide kits and offer workshops to make the “Finnish Kantele” a couple of years ago.
Ruth Manning teaches and creates art at her studio in Madison, Wisconsin. She specializes in hand woven tapestry with a focus on portraits and personal narrative work. Ruth has exhibited and sold her work around the country and she believes that a little tapestry will enhance your life. Ruth’s work can be seen at www.ruthmanningtapestry.com.
Sherrie McCabe ~ Glass Bead Making
Sherrie graduated from Northern Michigan University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education with emphasis on sculpture and silversmithing. Hot glass became her passion about 25 years ago. After two trips to Venice, studying under America’s glass master Loren Stump, and retiring from teaching art in the public schools of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, bead making became her focus. She is ever inspired by nature, the moods of Lake Superior and wild flowers found on the shoreline and uses those moods, colors and patterns in the creation of her glass beads. Her home, on the south shore of Lake Superior, has her small glass studio overlooking the beach and low dunes. Besides the several juried art shows that she exhibits at each year, Sherrie has taught bead making at the Clearing Folk School in Door County, Wisconsin and through her home studio as well as the Porcupine Mountains Folk School both in Ontonagon, Michigan.
Linda Montonati ~ Soap Making
Linda Montonati lives in Hurley with her husband, Pete. Last year Linda retired from Gogebic Community College where she managed the bookstore. Since retirement she has been reading labels and feels strongly about using products without propylene glycol and many other endocrine disruptors found in cosmetics and products we use everyday. She became motivated to research and prepare her own cosmetics that are carcinogen-free. She has been assisting others to become more aware of natural approaches to personal care.
Peter (Pekka) Olson ~ Wood Carving
A Tapiola, Michigan, resident, Peter is a member of the Copper Country Wood Carvers Association. He provides students the opportunity to learn the ancient Scandinavian technique of carving. While he is skilled in many types of carving, he usually teaches how to carve from cedar the Finnish evergreen tree and the fan bird.
Eric Pintar ~ Shaker Boxes and Canoe Paddles
Eric Pintar has been making boxes for fifteen years under John Wilson of the Home Shop, Charlotte, Michigan. Partner in the business for four years now, John and Eric continue the Home Shop’s mission to spread the word of this traditional craft and back that up with a full supplies catalog to support the craftsmen in the trade.
Kay Seppala ~ Kantele Music Instructor A third-generation Finnish-American, Kay Seppala, a third generation Finnish-American, grew up in Ontonagon in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and moved to St. Paul, Minnesota as a young adult. There she learned Finnish folk dancing, met her Finnish-American husband, and was introduced to the traditional Finnish folk instrument, the kantele, or lap harp. In the mid – 1980′s, “Mother Kantele,” Joyce Hakala, taught Kay and others how to play the five- and ten-string kanteles in order to form the Koivun Kaiku Kantele Ensemble. Kay performed with this group for 12 years, until she returned to the U.P. Through teaching Finnish folk dancing and kantele, Kay now shares the joy of her Finnish roots in the Copper Country. She now teaches the small kantele for the community enrichment classes at the Finnish American Heritage Center, Finlandia University. Kay has led kantele workshops at numerous events, including Heikinpäivä, the Upper Peninsula Folk Life Festival, and the Keweenaw Heritage Center in Calumet. Two years ago, Kay was one of the five folk artists teaching elementary students in the BHK Child Development after-school program, Generation to Generation, and each fall teaches kantele as an “artist in residence” at the Stanton Township Schools. Kay is also the director of the children’s Finnish American Folk Dance Group, the Kivajat Dancers, who perform throughout the western UP. In addition to the children’s group, Kay has taught several adult dance workshops and enjoys leading “family-fun” dance evenings. She recently started a kantele ensemble for 5 and 10/11 string kantele players, Ilon Kaiku.Through teaching Finnish folk dancing and kantele, spiced with story telling, Kay is sharing the joy of her Finnish-American roots. She is helping to preserve the Finnish folk culture and to propagate many grandchildren for “Mother Kantele!”
A third generation Finnish-American, Kay grew up in Ontonagon, and moved to St. Paul, MN as a young adult. There she began Finnish folk dancing, met her Finnish-American husband and learned to play the traditional 5 and 10 string kanteles.
Through teaching Finnish folk dancing and kantele, Kay now shares the joy of her Finnish roots in the Copper Country. She is the director of the children’s group, Kivajat Dancers, and recently started a kantele ensemble for 5 and 10/11 string kantele players, Ilon Kaiku.
April Stone-Dahl ~ Basket Maker
April started her study in Black Ash (aagimaak) basketry in the spring of 1998 when she was introduced to the craft by her husband, Jarrod. After one full year of watching a basket changes and get used, she wove her first basket in the spring of 1999 and has been learning and weaving ever since. She is mostly self-taught, having learned the characteristics of black ash through the process of weaving, and has a preference for creating ?utility? baskets. What she enjoys the most about teaching is what the student learn about themselves, and each other, and how they carry those lessons with them at the end of the day. April lives with her husband, Jarrod, and their four children on the Bad River reservation in northern Wisconsin.
Jarrod Stone-Dahl ~ Woodworker
Jarrod lives in northern Wisconsin with his wife, April, and their four children. He has been a professional woodworker since 1993, starting in carpentry then moving into log building and timber framing. He also served a loose apprenticeship in a wooden boat shop for two years and has been self-employed the majority of the time. Jarrod’s passion is pre-industrial woodworking techniques, such as splitting or riving wood with wedges and froe, then dressing with axe and knife; these techniques he applies to the snowshoes, toboggans, bowls, spoons, and more recently, a birch bark canoes. His favorite tools are a razor sharp axe and a crooked knife. He and his wife have been teaching basketry and woodworking since 2000.
Margery Summerfield ~ Writer/AuthorSelf taught author of 5 novels (2 published), a screenplay, former Northern California newspaper columnist. While I was part of writing group for many years and have attended classes and studied on my own, I feel my lack of a formal education is an asset in providing a non-traditional learning experience to help writers bring their own life story into their work. Too much technical advice in the beginning of a piece can suck the life out of it!
Writing well is writing honestly. Knowing your Audience will inspire our true voice to come through.
I have worked in a laundry, ran a night club, volunteered with Hospice, 20+ years as a Massage Therapist.
Currently retired, living with husband and dog in Wakefield, Mi. Mother of 2, Grandmother of 2, Daughter of 2.
Have written under “Emma Mackin.”There is no such thing as a Flop Writer!
Sarah Wagner ~ Knitting
I was born and grew up in south western Ohio. In college, I studied forestry and Soil Science with Bachelor of Science in both. I worked as a professional for the United States Department of Agriculture: Forest Service as a Forester and Soil Scientist for 30 years, stationed in West Virginia and Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I learned to knit around 1995, and my favorite things to knit are cables, mittens and socks both felted and regular.
Dawn Walden is an Ojibway descendant who specializes in ethno botany of Northern Great Lakes Ojibway. She has been a member and/or instructor for 35 years for National Basketry Organization, Michigan Basket Makers Association, Ancient Arts Technology, Northwest Native American Basketry Association, Seattle Basketry Guild, and Oregon Basketry Guild. She has contributed to many books and has work represented in several museums and galleries. “The maker becomes infused with the materials, and then the materials make the basket.”
You can see Dawn’s work on her Facebook page at Dawn Nichols Walden (Dawn Nichols Walden Artist).
Pam Beal and Wayne Walma ~ Birch Twig Wreathes
Pam Beal and Wayne Walma live in Mass City Michigan. They have been making birch twig rustic wreaths for several years. Inspiration for the birch wreaths were East Branch neighbors who were describing how their parents made birch brooms for house and barn cleaning. Birch materials are from their 40 acre woods. Wayne is a custom cabinet and furniture maker. Pam specializes in traditional bear making and quilting.
Zona Wick ~ Soap Making
Zona Wick is the director of the Iron County Health Department in Hurley. She is a farmer at heart and raised and butchered her own chickens for about 15 years. She has been making soap from pig lard obtained from a farmer friend in Saxon for many years. Zona has a Masters degree in natural health from Clayton College of Natural Health in Birmingham Alabama. She is interested in promoting healthy, nature-friendly answers to diet and health care.