Folk School Staff

Beth Dow is an artist and craftsperson living in Minneapolis. Her main interests are photography, leatherwork, and spoon carving, and she holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota. She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Art and Art History department at St. Olaf College.

Christie Hawkins is in her third year of developing a folk school at St. Olaf, and has received 3 grants toward the programming in that time. She is an artist with an MFA in sculpture from the University of Minnesota. Christie has been in the St. Olaf Department of Art and Art History for over 2 decades serving as Studio Art Technician, and is in her second year as Visuals Designer for the St. Olaf Christmas Festival. Read her bio here.

Jess Hirsch is a woodworker and sculptor living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is a recent recipient of the Minnesota State Arts Board Folk and Traditional Craft Grant to apprentice with Jim Sannerud to study Sloyd (Scandinavian wood arts). Hirsch holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota. Wood has been her primary material for the past 10 years.

Beth Homa-Style is a full-time basket weaver in St. Paul, Minnesota. After studying painting in college, she interned at the North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minnesota, where she learned many traditional crafts, including boat building, but mostly different styles of basketry. This sparked her obsession with birchbark, which is now her main medium. She locally and sustainably harvests and processes her own materials by hand.

Harley Refsal has taught Scandinavian figure carving throughout the United States and Norway. He was honored by H. M. Harald V, King of Norway, with the St. Olav Medal of Honor for his efforts in reinvigorating Scandinavian figure carving in both the United States and Norway. Harley is a retired professor of Scandinavian folk art at Luther College, and is the author of several books. Harley was named the 2012 Woodcarver of the Year by the magazine Wood Carving Illustrated.

Norma Refsal is a jewelry maker and hand-crafter who draws much of her inspiration from Scandinavian technique and design. Norma became passionate about the Scandinavian folk arts while living with her family in Telemark, Norway in the late 1980’s. Norma’s jewelry, knives and creations in wood have been featured in numerous publications and exhibitions, and she teaches widely — often at The Vesterheim Museum, and North House Folk School.

Jim Sannerud has been working with wood since he took his first woodworking class at the age of nine. That experience inspired him to start his own woodworking business and share with others the beauty and quality of hand-made wooden objects. In 2007 he began a pilot program in Ukraine teaching woodturning to children in orphanages. He has taught private and small group classes for the last seven years in his St. Paul studio as well as at various folk schools, colleges and universities around the country. Jim makes his living woodturning and designing and building furniture.

Jarrod Stone Dahl grew up in Ashland, Wisconsin, a small town on the shores of Lake Superior. He is of Scandinavian decent and much of his woodworking is inspired by those woodworking traditions as well as the indigenous woodworking methods of that area. He is fascinated with early methods of working wood, mainly the axe and knife, but also using the techniques used and commonly known before the industrial revolution. Over the years he has concentrated on many things, but currently is focused on wooden bowls which are hand carved or turned on a foot powered lathe, wooden spoons carved with axe and knives, and boxes made from birch bark, bent wood or shrink boxes (a type of box that predates cooperage). He also makes snowshoes and toboggans to order in the winter months as well as birch bark canoes to order in the summer. He teaches many different classes and workshops around the country and internationally, focusing on the use of hand tools or how to make them.

Candace Wilkinson has been a weaver most of her life.  She grew up around the big floor loom that Candace’s Dad built for her Mom – and when she was 12, he built Candace her own 22″ floor loom. Candace majored in textiles & clothing in college, and in graduate school shifted her emphasis to weaving. She ran The Northern Vermont School of Fiber Arts for ten years, and since leaving Vermont for Arizona, taught art at the elementary/middle school level. Retired now, Candace volunteers at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix and experiments with weaving, surface design, and watercolor painting. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona and is a summer resident of Northfield, Minnesota.