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Stories of Growth from ASI Teaching Tools Grant Recipients

May 20, 2022 By Lizzy Rode

As ASI grows the Nordic Handcraft programs, this Cultivating Nordic Craft: Teaching Tools Grant supports instructors by providing pivotal tools to awardees. These tools for the classroom, which are often expensive, help expand instructors’ teaching capacity to share their craft with more makers. Through the generous support from the Endowed Malmberg Fund, Members, Donors and many other individual partners, ASI has been given the privilege of investing in instructors to ensure Nordic Handcraft traditions may continue to be passed down to new generations to come.

As well as making room for innovation within the handcraft community. Supporting artists to increase their capacity to teach will help more and more makers develop and experiment with their craft. From teaching classes at ASI and beyond! This grant was created with the hope of supporting artists to share their craft with new communities of students across multiple teaching institutions.

Hear from past recipients about the impact of this grant on their teaching, in their own words:

Sue Flanders, pottery instructor, 2021 grantee

“I was very grateful and excited to receive a Teaching Tools Grant last year. With the grant, I was able to upgrade my underglaze color pallets and get new paint brushes for my classes. The new pallets have sealed containers which eliminate waste and give the students access to more colors. The fine liner brushes have been useful for outlining motifs on ceramic pieces. All of the students have appreciated the new tools.”

Becky Utecht, felting instructor, 2019 grantee

“The teaching tools I acquire[d] through the ASI Teaching Tools grant enables me to teach my raw felted fleece technique to a broader range of students, year-round, and in places where it wasn’t possible before. In this class we transform a shorn fleece into a finished felted “sheepskin” blanket or rug using hot, soapy water and lots of rubbing and rolling. It’s a fun but physical class where students learn about the fleece qualities of various sheep breeds and the projects for which the fleece types are best suited. I teach this class because it’s an opportunity to educate people on how beneficial sheep are for our environment.”

Paul Linden, woodworking instructor, 2019 grantee

“I have taught courses and workshops in spoon carving for many years, and I have collected many axes and knives to allow my students to use in those courses. But the carving of wooden bowls requires specialized tools that are both rare and expensive. I have greatly enjoyed starting to offer bowl carving classes to students at ASI and elsewhere, as a supplement to our very popular spoon carving class. In the contemporary woodworking and craft world, there is no shortage of opportunities available to learn the process of turning bowls on a powered lathe. Foot powered lathes are certainly rarer, but it is far easier to find an opportunity to learn this craft than it is to learn to carve a wooden bowl by hand with tools. I consider myself to be a craft activist, and I greatly enjoy empowering others to realize their own potential for creativity through handcrafts. I intend to continue to develop new opportunities for craft-based coursework that may enrich the creative lives of others in my community.”

Jess Hirsch, woodcarving instructor, 2019 grantee

“Through acquiring 4 bowl adzes, I will now be able to offer a class on bowl carving to students at ASI, Women’s Woodshop [now the Fireweed Woodshop] and elsewhere. [Last year] I studied bowl carving with Beth Moen in Sweden to gain the skills to teach this technique but have not been able to acquire the proper tools to teach a class. The adze is critical to bowl carving and having a high-quality tool will make the class easier for students so that they can focus on technique and design. Working with local blacksmith Mike Fasold, I have been able to customize the adze for bowl carving specifically and we have created a fantastic tool that will now be available locally if students enjoy the process of carving and want to purchase their own tool in the future. This grant has not only created the opportunity to teach but more so, to pass on the information I learned in Sweden to a new generation of carvers that will keep this traditional method alive for the future.”

This grant provides a one-time award of up to $1,000 worth of tools and equipment to expand the teaching capacity for an emerging craft instructor. The strongest applicants will have several years of teaching experience, will address the viability of creating a long term and potentially varied teaching curriculum with such teaching tools, will enable the instructor to teach a full-size class (usually 6-15 students), and will demonstrate teaching relationships with several institutions. It is assumed and encouraged that awardees will use their awarded teaching tools for teaching opportunities beyond ASI. 2022 applications are open through May 31 – learn more and apply here!