Vol. 1, No. 4 - March/April 2016
T h e P ro j e c t I s s u e
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We create a magazine that shares the stories of makers and innovators spanning our great northern state. As we feature bold and inspiring Minnesotans—from craftsman to beekeepers, artists to farmers, brewers to foodies—we’re here to build a timeless collection of tales from each region across the state. We aim to strengthen and promote sustainable, beautiful, altruistic, unique, and creative communities. We are so proud to share our one-of-a-kind Minnesota magazine with you.
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EDITOR’S NOTE The Project Issue Greetings, friends! Before we get into the details of this lovely Project Issue, I have an update to share from the Cari Me Instagram contest. The exciting journey of the contest is unfolding as it makes itself at home in various towns throughout Minnesota. For the first stop on the Cari Me tour, the Southwest winning photographer, Greta Alms, brought the exhibit to WYSIWYG Juice Co. in Mankato. After a couple weeks there, the exhibit was swooped up by Southeast winning photographer, Amanda Eastvold, who brought the Cari Me bags to Tandem Bagels in her hometown of Northfield. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the opening night in Northfield—and it turned out to be a tremendous success! The beautiful bags were showcased on a perfect display wall in Tandem Bagels, handmade with wool donated by Faribault Woolen Mills, and graced with the seven winning images from around the state. Seeing the bags displayed so perfectly, watching the community interact with them and point out their favorites, and hearing about Amanda’s chosen charity, The Food Group, was an honest pleasure. We owe a huge thank you to Becky Stattelman and also to Amanda Eastvold for reaching out within your community to give the Cari Me contest new life! We cannot wait to watch the project continue to grow and further impact communities and charities around the state. And now, onto the task at hand: the Project Issue. Another beautiful issue of Make It Minnesota is in your hands—a physical manifestation of thoughtful conversations, meaningful collaboration, and honest creativity. When we set out to curate a collection of stories, photographs, collaborations, and challenges for the Project Issue, we were (im)patiently anticipating a late winter transition into early spring in the North. Gray days outnumbered blue, and we found ourselves interested in discovering the sources of inspiration for the creative community around us. The Project Issue was born from a desire to ask questions, call upon our innate skills as humans to make, and challenge ourselves to interact with community in a new way.
Becky Stattelman of RedBarn Design, Make It Minnesota Editor Kara Larson, and Cari Me winning photographer Amanda Eastvold.
From springtime seed starting to a foraging project by Mary Jo Hoffman to a collection of workshop opportunities around Minnesota, this issue delves into the notion of allowing ourselves ample time and space to create. When we are able to slow down, focus, create, and devote our full attention to our projects, beautiful things can happen. And I think this issue is a perfect representation of that. Read on!
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Contributors Editor Kara Larson Production Manager Leah Matzke
Contributors Diana & Emy Crane Sean McSteen Leah Matzke Heather Fisher Claire Campbell & Olivia Dropps Melina Lamer
DIANA CRANE AND EMY CRANE
Diana and Emy felt like little nomads from a very young age—from Arizona, to Arkansas, to Idaho, it seemed they were always on the move. Now settled in Minneapolis, they’re still figuring out how to put down roots. Spruce is storytelling, it’s learning, it’s growth—it’s their attempt to weave themselves into this city, and to feel truly at home.
Born and raised in a St. Paul suburb, Sean grew up being exposed to and participating in the rich and diverse culture of the Twin Cities. His passions range from playing cello, filmmaking, Gonzo journalism (on the weekends), and traveling to any new place around the world, near or far.
Cover Photo Amy Seine, 2016 Inspire contest winner
Since she can remember Leah has been fascinated by the arts and loves drawing. One source of that inspiration came from her high-school art teacher, “Mr. Jaspersen,” who is featured in this issue’s Wanda Gag story. As a mother of four she wants to share that no art class is wasted on a parent, who can spend hours exploring imaginatively with young minds around the kitchen table with just a box of crayons and paper.
Copyright All images contained in Make It Minnesota are subject to copyright of the artist, illustrator or photographers as named, but not limited to.
Heather was born and raised in Mankato and has a long family history of small business owners. She went to MSU for Interior Design and along with owning Salvage Sisters, she has two children, ages 7.5 and 5 years, and she also works full time as an Interior Designer at ISG, an architectural and engineering firm, in Mankato. She loves being able to create new experiences for people through color and design.
Reproduction of any part of this magazine without prior permission is prohibited. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved. Disclaimer The views and comments expressed by the writers are not always that of Make It Minnesota. While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy of the information in this publication, Make It Minnesota accepts no responsibility or liability for any errors, omissions or resultant consequences, including any loss or damage arising from reliance on information in this publication. Make It Minnesota (ISSN 2471-6744) Volume 1, No. 4, is published by Seeking Stories LLC & Matzke Media House LLC
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CLAIRE CAMPBELL & OLIVIA DROPPS Claire and Olivia are the granddaughters of Tootie & Dotes. Their site is lovingly titled with the names of their grandmothers. They are northern womenfolk, cultivating strength and nourishment as they write about the slow and steady lives of midwest farmers and producers.
MELINA LAMER Melina is the owner and founder of Superior Switchel Company. She combines her love for outdoor adventure and MN small-batch food and beverages to create the original, thirst-quenching, outdoorsman’s beverage called switchel. When she’s not brewing, you can find her canoeing or hitting the ice for a game of pond hockey!
Contents Featured Communities
Local by Local
Maker Workshop Series
How Minnesotans Work(shop)
Out & About
Junk Bonanza Vintage Market
Behind The Creative
16 20 24
The Wanda Gag Sculpture Project Project: Seed Starting 101 with Amanda Eastvold STILL: The Mindful Harvest
Instagram Contest 28 What Inspires You?
An Interview with Alexandra Petrova
Superior Spring Cocktails
Share Your Project
The Project Issue Creative Challenge
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By Heather Fisher,
Owner at Salvage Sisters & Interior Designer, IIDA
About Heather: Heather was born and raised in Mankato and has a long family history of small business owners. She went to MSU for Interior Design and along with owning Salvage Sisters, she has two children, ages 7.5 and 5 years, and she also works full time as an Interior Designer at ISG, an architectural and engineering firm, in Mankato. She loves being able to create new experiences for people through color and design. About Salvage Sisters: Salvage Sisters began in 2012 and started as a painted furniture store. Heather has adapted the store through the years to become a place for local makers to showcase their amazing talents while complementing the mission of the businesses, which has always been to stay ahead of the design curve while offering reclaimed and handmade. Heather is working to expand the store and many of their offerings, including a baby and kids section, a pet section as well as expanding their workshops! Big News: Over the past year, Heather and her team have been filming a pilot TV show for Scripps Network. She shares, “It’s been an amazing adventure and we are happy to announce that our pilot show, titled Minnesota Salvage, premiered on Great American Country (which is kind of like DIY’s little brother station) on April 10th at 4 P.M. If they like the show and it does well, we are hoping to get a TV series!”
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Meg Sievek is the owner and curator of the fabrics and designs at Sakatah Colors. This name derives from the biking and hiking trail—The Sakatah Trail—that runs right through Meg’s neighborhood. She shares, “I hoped it would resonate with the community, as it did to me, a place of recreation and inspiration.” Sakatah Colors has is more than a hobby for Meg. This beautiful creative outlet is her full-time passion. As the collections change with the seasons, Meg truly loves making apparel for children 0-24 months and baby necessities. More than that, she loves the connection to community that her Minnesota business has given her. “Owning a small business has never been just about me, it takes community to build success. Local is where one’s reputation is known in that face-to-face way.” she begins. “Mankato shows an overwhelming support to their makers and creatives; this has allowed so many of us to move from hobby to business, the stories are so inspiring. Watching the success of the store, Salvage Sisters, I sell with in Mankato has inspired my own business goals to dig a little deeper and grow a little stronger all the time.”
BAUBLES & BOBBIES
“Baubles & Bobbies is more than just jewelry. Each creation is a conversation piece or a story,” begins Ginger Neilon, the creative founder of Baubles & Bobbies. As a Minnesota maker, Ginger believes in the connection between herself and her customers. She hopes that when they wear her jewelry, they feel a sense of connection by knowing that each piece was made by hand with a special attentiveness. As she lovingly makes modern jewelry mixed with vintage tones and re-purposed hardware, she jokes that her pieces are what Minnesota Mother Nature would wear if she were going to a Music Festival. And more yet, Ginger recognizes the incredible benefits of supporting local. “Supporting local is supporting your neighbors and your community. When you have the option to actually know the person that’s behind a business or product, a relationship forms and lives become intertwined, thus making you want to shop local. Local businesses are the root of retail and American made products. You genuinely have to care about where your products come from and who makes them. Care about the people, the businessman, and about your community.”
Tandem Bagels prides itself on using fresh, seasonal, local, and organic ingredients. As they provide their community with genuine, made-fromscratch bagels and baked goods, their mission is two-fold: to make quality, soulful food in an inviting setting, and to leave a small carbon footprint through eco-friendly serving materials, high efficiency lighting, and bike racks for those who leave the car behind. Anne Frentz, the co-owner and manager of the Mankato location of Tandem Bagels, shares, “Since we opened Tandem Bagels in Mankato four years ago, we have formed amazing relationships and friendships with our customers. We have also accomplished a positive and family-like work atmosphere within our company here in Mankato and in our Northfield Tandem Bagels location.” She values the local support they have received, saying, “It has also been fun seeing the growth and addition of other small businesses and the support to one another! Mankato has made so many improvements in the past years in regards to the city center, arts, parks and the biking community which Tandem Bagels supports and has benefited from.”
NAKED BEAUTY BATH AND BODY
“We started selling our handcrafted soaps at the Mankato Farmers’ Market 8 years ago after our first daughter was born. Now 8 years and 4 kids later we’re still selling our soap along with many other natural skincare products at the market and other local shops,” begins Melissa Kruse, the creative maker behind Naked Beauty Bath and Body. Melissa has been interested in the natural world in connection with how plants can help heal and prevent unwanted skin conditions and illnesses. As she studies the healing and medicinal benefits of plants, she brings her knowledge and creativity to the incredible range of products she makes through Naked Beauty. The community she makes for has a special place in her heart. “The community has been very supportive while they watched as our family and business grow. It’s also been fun to witness the growth of other local businesses that we have collaborated with.” She adds, “We were one of the first consignors at Salvage Sisters and I feel honored to still be a part of the store and watch how it has expanded over the years. Mankato has a very supportive network of consumers, retailers, and producers. I feel very lucky to be a part of it.” PROJECT ISSUE - VOL 1, NO. 4 - 2016 | 5
Blackduck By Sean McSteen
I will be honest, when we first arrived into town, I had second thoughts. Driving through the four-square block downtown, I felt uncertain that an entire story could be written solely on Blackduck. Had we driven over four hours only to find a town boarded up to outsiders, closed for business outside of hunting and fishing seasons? I should have not been so quick to judge. We arrived in the evening before sunset and had a chance to explore the natural surroundings as the falling sun basked the frozen lake and the abundant shades of brown that come after a winter thaw in the last light of the day. We began our tour of the Blackduck area at the entrance to the town itself where a statue of the city’s namesake spread its massive wings wide, catching the attention of anyone driving along Highway 71. Continuing a mile west, we discovered Blackduck Lake, where the transformation from winter to spring has left the land undecided on whether to melt and move towards a warmer season, or remain frigid and still in cold hibernation. After a full day of travel, hunger had crept in and so we stopped by the Blackduck Family Foods to restock on beef sticks, veggies and chips (ya know, travel snacks) before finding a hotel to check if they had a room available for us. With the remnant of winter chill still persevering during nighttime hours, we found warm lodging in the Americinn. As a bonus, it was directly across the street from a bowling alley.
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Not only did they have a room available, they had every room available. We knew we had come during an off-season, but did not realize the extent of how absent of outsiders the town was until we were the only ones sharing an entire hotel with the family of three running it. A quick stop up to the room, and we were off across the street to the bowling alley. We found that we were again, for the second time that night, the only people there. The bowling alley was small—only six lanes—but the single large space was open and inviting. It looked as though most everything was original from the construction of the alley; old-school bowling
tables with bottom-lit projectors to display the scorecard over the lanes, worn-looking balls and vintage video games that I remember playing as a child. After two games, shoe rental, an iced tea and a Grain Belt Premium, the damage came to a grand total of eight dollars. Leaving the bowling alley, we strolled into downtown Blackduck to see the town at night. It was no surprise that everything in the town was closed for the night, but it felt good nonetheless walking through the deserted, quiet streets while everyone and everything slept.
Consisting of a somewhat small, one-room dining hall, Duck In and Eat has “staple of the community” written all over it. The restaurant was decorated for Easter with floral colored bunnies and neon plastic eggs inhabiting every inch of usable space on the tables and walls. The cheesy potato soup was splendid on the cold day and the service made us feel right at home in a town where two outsiders like ourselves coming in-between tourist seasons must stick out to everyone who calls Blackduck home.
In the morning, we ate a brief breakfast at the hotel before loading up the car and continuing on our adventure—our first stop being The Lost Forty. Hidden along a somewhat precarious unplowed dirt road, The Lost Forty is a Scientific and Natural Area within the Chippewa National Forest that is home to a grouping of virgin Red and White Pines that have been standing tall and strong for over three-hundred years. The ancient trees would have gone the route of those around them—being logged—had it not been for a fortuitous mistake by the surveying crew. The crew, sent to map out the area, plotted Coddington Lake a half-mile northwest of where it actually was. Because on the map, there was a lake right where the pines stood, loggers were never sent clear the land of its trees. And so, hidden with only a single road to reach it, The Lost Forty remain, now protected; a small, but impressive patch of old-growth pines that date back long before explorers and settlers reached the dense wilderness of what was to be Minnesota.
After our brief, but delicious refuel, we walked across the street to Blackduck’s own History and Art Center where we explored the different exhibits designed to highlight all aspects of the town’s history. The center is also the home of the Tin Pan Gallery, an art gallery that houses the works of local Blackduck artists, past and present. After spending some time walking through the history center, we talked with one of the center’s directors, Mary Joy, who was born in Blackduck and moved to Minneapolis after graduating high school, but returned to her hometown to get married and raise a family, and has lived there ever since. Talking with Mary—as well as other members of the community working at Moon Drug and Anderson Factory Outlet and Quilt Shop — gave us a deeper sense of what life was and is like in Blackduck.
Returning to Blackduck during business hours, we began our second day in town at the Moon Drug, the kind of place that seems quintessential to small-town Minnesota. Carrying a little bit of everything from every department you can imagine, Moon Drug is a knick-knack lover’s heaven. After buying a few odds and ends that jumped out at us, we left Moon Drug, walked past the single-screen movie theater and stopped into one of the few restaurants in town, Duck In and Eat, for a bit of lunch.
Life in Blackduck sounds like the definition of hard work. From talking with people around town, we gathered that the two main employers within the town are the local Blackduck elementary and high schools and the Anderson Fabrics factory, which employees over 200 people from Blackduck and the surrounding area. And most of those who do not work for either schools, or the fabric factory, work for themselves as cattle farmers during the warm months and loggers during the winter. The stories we heard of the life in Blackduck were tales of long-hours, lots and lots of sweat, and very hard work carried out with pride and perseverance that comes from a deep-seeded sense of purpose and worth.
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Maker Workshop Series: How Minnesotans Work(shop) By Kara Larson
When I set out to tap into the wonderful world of workshops across the state of Minnesota, I expected to talk to passionate individuals with lofty goals of building strong, vibrant, and creative communities. I expected their insights into the world of making in Minnesota to expand my knowledge on where and how creativity happens. However, I didn’t expect to be so genuinely inspired by their efforts, their ideas, their mission. In speaking with various individuals from a creative workshop group, an art colony, a community makerspace, and a community arts center, I not only gained understanding and knowledge on the current environment for artists, makers, workshops, classes, and residency programs around the state, but I also came to learn how closely connected the arts are to the strength and cohesiveness of a community. There are opportunities for all of us to learn new skills, explore our own personal journey through art, and form relationships with people we might never have met otherwise. These places give us the opportunity to connect. Connect to abilities to be self-sufficient, connect with the artist inside, connect with humans different than yourself, connect with a new art form—these places inspire us to be vulnerable and honest while engaging in art that invites us to let go and relax into the present. Let’s get right into the genuine ideas, goals, and insight of the wonderful organizations and businesses in this article. In the sections ahead, you will read about four uniquely inspiring places that foster, encourage, and facilitate interactive creativity in different ways. Spoiler alert: they’re all delightful.
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Unleash Your Inner Creative In the eyes of Jessica Moriarty and Mollie Windmiller, the co-founders of LAB MPLS, creativity resides within everyone—it just takes the right atmosphere to unleash it. And so, they have built just that.
also gain the knowledge and appreciation of the many benefits as well.” Within the variety of workshops, LAB has become a creative home to all kinds of people interested in trying something new. Mollie shares, “We see people who are interested in DIY and engaging their creative side often, but we also see people who have maybe never touched watercolor paints. And that’s really fun—seeing people who don’t get creative often really get out of their comfort zone and create.”
“We started LAB because we knew there was a need in the Twin Cities community to create an inspirational place where people could come together, learn a new skill, and get creative,” begins Mollie. “It’s about getting away from your Pinterest board—something you’re inspired to do, but instead of pinning it—you can actually create it.” The workshops take place at LAB headquarters, a beautiful downtown Minneapolis space made aesthetically inviting by Jessica’s trained design eye. Set up as a space that peacefully calls for workshop attendees to get creative, LAB began with creative workshops like Photoshop LAB and a writing workshop called Paragraph Party, but today, with more than 70 creative workshops complete, their range is impressive. A few of their most popular workshops include a Cocktail LAB with Far North Spirits, a Beauty LAB with green beauty expert Nicolle Mackinnon, and a Calligraphy LAB with Hooked Calligraphy, among many others. This range is important to Mollie and Jessica. For them, creating doesn’t look like one particular thing or one art form; it comes in different workshops, instructors, people, ideas. “We never want to put LAB or our audience in a box,” Jessica starts. “There are so many unique makers and artists and things to learn out there and we really want to offer that for everybody. And it’s fun that you can keep coming back and it’s not the same thing.” The workshops are about unveiling process— appreciating the work, the time, and the love behind the world of making. Mollie warmly speaks of the importance of the process and knowledge gained at Beauty LAB. “There is always a greater appreciation for something when you understand the process behind how it’s made. For example, Nicolle Mackinnon is the green beauty guru and the instructor for Beauty LAB, and she provides exceptional knowledge of the benefits of green beauty. When you are creating the beautiful products for your skin, you 10 MAKE IT MINNESOTA
“It’s about getting away from your Pinterest board—something you’re inspired to do, but instead of pinning it—you can actually create it.”
Ultimately, LAB MPLS is offering something fresh, unique, and genuine—something that calls for people to enjoy a more dynamic approach to a night out with friends (or strangers). “I think people enjoy getting out and actually doing something. They want learn something new, be inspired and get creative, so it’s really fun to create that outlet here at LAB,” says Jessica. Beyond the creative workshops, LAB also engages in collaborations with local businesses and brands that pull the LAB experience outside of their downtown space. The connections and collaborations Mollie and Jessica have made through LAB include significant brands like Madewell at the Mall of America, Kit and Ace, Mia, Shinola, Wilson & Willy’s, Macy’s Flower Show, Ampersand, and more. Later this month, Mollie and Jessica are looking forward to expanding the LAB reach in one more way through an event called The Collective. This modern marketplace event is free and open to the public and is to be held at Loring Social on April 23rd. Beyond the marketplace for makers and their products, there will also be an educational component. The event features a series of speakers including Mary Jo Hoffman, Seven Sundays, Bēt Vodka, Sota Clothing, Tandem Made, and more, that will share their process and story as modern makers. This new trajectory for LAB feels like a natural expansion to Jessica and Mollie. In addition to creative workshops and collaborating with like-minded brands, LAB MPLS hopes to make The Collective an annual mainstay to support artists and makers in the Twin Cities community.
GRAND MARAIS ART COLONY A Rejuvenating Northern Sanctuary
The Grand Marais Art Colony has a powerful, imaginative past. In 1947, nearly 70 years ago, a charismatic MCAD professor by the name of Birney Quick began the Art Colony as the Outdoor School of Painting. This style resonated with the landscape of Grand Marais—an area well suited for a meaningful dialogue between landscape and artist. With a bold vision of building a place that would facilitate artistic expression, provide space for one’s journey of self, and allow artists of all kinds to thrive, the Grand Marais Art Colony was born. As an individual who was very involved in the Twin Cities arts scene, Birney continued to establish the Art Colony as a place for diverse expression as he brought jazz musicians, painters, dancers, and students up to Grand Marais to share their art with the community. In doing so, he was furthering the idea of Grand Marais becoming a visitor’s community—a creative home for anyone to share art and passions and skills. Amy Demmer, Executive Director, believes these incredible beginnings have deeply impacted the present and future of the Art Colony. And since Cook County, the county in which Grand Marais resides, has the highest number of artists per capita in Minnesota, it’s important to consider the role of arts in this small, vibrant community. “This is a very rejuvenating, reflective place—it’s got a bit of a retreat aspect to it. That’s what Grand Marais does best. This is a place to get away from the white noise and traffic and the daily quotidian. With our golden Northern light, nature sounds, the fresh lake air, and the quiet—it is restorative.” This sort of atmosphere contributes to the direction in which the Art Colony influences its artists, visitors, and community. In their threeprong mission, they focus on art education, artist services, and community outreach. At the base of these three is respect for the creative journey. From beginner to intermediate to professional artist, Amy believes the whole journey to be really valuable. The first component of their mission is art education. This learning of artistic expression comes through the process-oriented classes offered at the Art Colony. Amy shares, “Because of the emphasis on the lifelong journey, it’s not
necessarily about producing something to take home; it’s more about investing in your technical skills or in nurturing your creative spirit so it increases your ability to express yourself.” Beyond a full calendar of over 200 evolving classes every year, the Art Colony also puts on a symposium made up of smaller classes, one day or a half day in length, that is meant to build relationships with self and community. This year, it is a creative self-care symposium. Amy reveals, “It’s really about that resiliency of your self. As a society, I think we often toss our self-care out the door and it is so important in art. One facet of self care is paying attention to your inner compass, expressing yourself, and taking time for yourself, but also, it’s a very powerful way to heal.”
“This is a very rejuvenating, reflective place—that’s what Grand Marais does best. This is a place to get away from the white
noise and traffic and the daily quotidian.”
The second part of their mission is about artist services. The Art Colony offers both individual residencies and mentorship residencies for artists. These programs range in subject matter— from writing, painting, printmaking, clay, glass, jewelry, and more. Artists can access the Art Colony’s studios on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to make work independently. Amy imparts, “The residency series really speaks to artists building a relationship with themselves and their work. It’s about devoting time and space for an artist to focus and to be able to communicate themselves through their art.” In addition to the residencies, other artist services include professional development classes, art sales opportunities, a resource library, and grant writing assistance. Amy shares, “Artist services connect artists with a vibrant creative community and vital resources in order to help them grow their practice, advance their career, and develop sustainable lives as artists.” In the third aspect of the Art Colony’s mission, they focus on nurturing art in the community. Events throughout the year make a trip to the far reaches of Northeastern Minnesota a worthwhile roadtrip. The Grand Marais Arts Festival in July is their largest event, while in September, an outdoor painting competition called Plein Air Grand Marais serves as an ode to the Art Colony’s beginnings, and several more exciting fundraisers, celebratory events, and beyond call for curious minds to visit the valued Art Colony. PROJECT ISSUE - VOL 1, NO. 4 - 2016 | 11
NORDEAST MAKERS A Community Makerspace for Urban Innovators Nordeast Makers was founded three years ago as an offshoot of a short-lived makerspace called The Mill that closed in 2013. Micah Roth, along with five other founders, had a goal of building an operation that was sustainable from day one. With slow, steady growth, Nordeast Makers is now in their second space in Northeast Minneapolis, at 451 Taft Street, serving as a great resource for urban innovators with a yearning to get their hands dirty. From the beginning, their mission was simple. They aimed to open a space that had premium, top of the line equipment—equipment that they would know inside and out. Beyond the machinery, the space is a big part of the appeal of Nordeast Makers; the building is rugged and filled with numerous other workshops and talented individuals, a prime source for inspiration. Their membership numbers fluctuate from season to season, but all the while, with each new member comes new opportunities. Members join with a monthly membership fee that gives them access to everything Nordeast Makers has to offer, including premium equipment like the CNC router, laser cutter, 3D printers, woodshop and more. This also includes room for small project and building materials storage. Micah and the group of founders are well aware of the strength in the maker movement in the Twin Cities area. And as makers themselves, they love sharing a community workshop space with interesting people who enjoy the process of making. “There is a very strong maker movement in Minneapolis,” starts Micah. “Just go to our various farmers markets that are filled with handmade products. To fill this need for shop space, membership shops began popping up in Minneapolis about 5 years ago. Starting with The Hack Factory, The Mill, which gave birth to Nordeast Makers, and more recently MPLS Make.” Micah has taken on the additional title of Lead Operator at Nordeast Makers—a space that has a real impact on the maker community. “Northeast Minneapolis, in particular, has a burgeoning artist and maker community. However, it’s unfeasible for most makers to furnish their own digital fabrication 12 MAKE IT MINNESOTA
shop. Especially if they’re just beginning to establish themselves in the community.” From creating a new venue for social interactions to decreasing your carbon footprint, makerspaces lead people to a more sustainable way of living. It encourages people to explore their innate skills, reuse, or repair products rather than throwing them away. In Micah’s eyes, it is also extremely empowering and satisfying. And it’s catching on. “We get a broad range of members from hobbyists to entrepreneurs to people doing side work to architects, designers, engineers, all kinds of people. That’s how I see the maker community and movement as a whole—a hodgepodge of those different backgrounds.”
“Makerspaces like Nordeast Makers help bring communities
together by providing
public workspaces. Shop
users meet other artists with common and differing
interests—ideas are shared and collaboration is encouraged.”
Over time, with the modern conveniences readily available at a big box store near you, some would say that we have lost touch with making, especially in a metropolitan society. Nordeast Makers allows the inquisitive individual, the hobbyist who dreams of making their own work desk, or even the trained designer who simply doesn’t have the money for their own space, the freedom to make their ancestors proud and build something beautiful, functional, unique. More than the benefits to the individual, there’s a real connection to collaboration that flourishes in the shared space. Micah relates, “Makerspaces like Nordeast Makers help bring communities together by providing public workspaces. Shop users meet other artists with common and differing interests—ideas are shared and collaboration is encouraged. Makerspaces also drastically lower the cost of entry for entrepreneurs and makers looking to develop a product or start a business. Even hobbyists can save money and learn a new skill if they need a new dinning room table.” Nordeast Makers exists to pool resources so makers and artists have access to a full fabrication shop filled with exceptional equipment some never dreaming of using. And because it’s a shared space, this makerspace is ripe for collaboration that may not have happened otherwise. The equipment, the community, the satisfaction of making—that’s what a community makerspace like Nordeast Makers is all about.
WHITE BEAR CENTER FOR THE ARTS Building Skills and Community “When we started to envision this home for the arts in White Bear, we really looked at it as building a community center with art at its core. We want to impact the community by celebrating the arts and peoples’ diversity of creative expression.” These are the words of Suzi Hudson, Executive Director of White Bear Center for the Arts. From Suzi’s perspective, and to combat a common misconception, the arts are about so much more than the ability to draw. This is why White Bear offers a wide range of art classes to the youth and adults of the community. Suzi thinks of the arts as being very broadly defined and whether it is drawing, painting, sculpting, jewelry making, textile making, wool making, classes in pottery, building a brick oven, photography, all types of clay classes, digital art, stained glass or fused glass, movement classes like ballet and tai chi, even language courses like French, Portuguese—it’s all there. They hope to expand the idea of what art is and how you can engage people in the arts. Although White Bear Center for the Arts was started in 1968 by a small group of artists who hoped to see the arts thrive locally, White Bear began offering arts classes in the 90s when many of the art classes were cut out of the community’s elementary school curriculum. Since then, the education component has become an integral part of how the Center is working to enhance and build community. Within the classes, Suzi believes the students and artists are gaining a sense of confidence and curiosity. And ultimately, she sees them building skills of connecting to others. “They’re learning how to go beyond their comfort zone as individuals and recognize that everybody is unique and solves problems in a unique way. There’s no place better to see that than in the arts. There might be a class where everybody is trying to make a bracelet, but no two bracelets are going to be the same when they leave the class. We celebrate those differences here and I think that can really translate into some really important life lessons.”
Right alongside this notion of understanding and appreciating individual differences through art is the idea of getting to know new people in a creative environment. A center like White Bear can introduce people who aren’t all that similar and the creative circumstance can often serve a catalyst for interesting connections. “It’s delightful to see deep connections being formed here that might have never have formed in a more traditional way.” Suzi adds, “And that crosses age barriers too—you see multiple generations in classes. You see a young teenage boy getting to know an older person through a drawing class and suddenly, they’re valuing each other on a whole new level that goes beyond our preconceptions of other people.”
“Art is a real equalizer ... We seek instructors who are particularly
process- oriented, who
are looking to encourage and nurture peoples’ creative side versus
turning out something that’s perfect.”
But why does art have the ability to bring people together? Suzi concludes, “Art is a real equalizer. If you’re coming into a class where you’re learning new skills, everybody is a little intimidated and vulnerable. We seek instructors who are particularly processoriented, who are looking to encourage and nurture peoples’ creative side versus turning out something that’s perfect.” As White Bear aims to build community, enhance the lives of individuals, and provide a gateway to diverse arts experiences, Suzi smiles as she describes what a joyful place the Center is. In their mission to help people live a more vibrant life, she sees the bold promise of joy yet to be discovered in tapping in one’s creative side. As one sets out to learn something new about themselves, explore ideas, and develop new skills to make something original, she shares just how important the endeavor of making is in today’s modern society. She imparts, “So many things that have given us a sense of purpose, identity, pride, or have engaged us in our innovation and creative side are being so replaced by technology or premanufactured items. Remember how we are, as humans, made to be makers. There’s something that’s deeply rewarding that connects us not only to our individuality, but that sense of self-sufficiency. That real sense of reward that comes along with it too. It is very empowering.” PROJECT ISSUE - VOL 1, NO. 4 - 2016 | 13
Out & About:
Junk Bonanza Vintage Market By Kara Larson
“The name Junk Bonanza is a bit of a misnomer; it’s really quality stuff. That doesn’t always translate with the idea of junk,” begins Ki Nassauer, Founder of Junk Bonanza. As last fall’s edition of the Bonanza brought more than 12,000 people through the doors over the span of three days, she encourages us to join this huge group of people who aim to debunk the antiquated idea of junk. Junk Bonanza seems to represent a larger idea of décor trends nationwide. But why are unique finds, upcycled goods and items made from reclaimed wood becoming more and more popular? Perhaps it’s our appreciation for precious memories—a desire to fill our homes with items that have a history all their own. Nassauer agrees, “I think nostalgia plays a big part. People might see a piece that reminds them of when they were growing up or something they remember from their grandmother’s house.” She adds, “I think decorating today has become so much more personal. It’s very rare for people to buy a full suite of furniture or things that match. They’re much more into the idea of being able to find, mix, and match things that speak to them.” Founded by Nassauer in 2006, Junk Bonanza is now a lively 10-year-old, continuing to evolve and flourish as a dynamic and interesting showcase of vintage treasures and upcycled amusements. Today, as Junk Bonanza has expanded to two events a year in Shakopee, MN and two new Bonanza events in San Diego, CA and Portland, OR, the event continues to boast a delightfully select shopping experience. Nassauer shares, “We call it a ‘best of ’ shopping experience. Our vendors are juried, so we make sure we don’t have too much of any one kind of item. There are certain categories we close out when they’re full. That kind of balancing is done not only to ensure the vendors have good sales, but also to provide a very rich and varied shopping experience for our attendees.” As the Junk Bonanza returns to Canterbury Park April 21-23, over 150 juried vendors showcase beautiful vintage finds, antiques, and architectural salvage in a huge, yet welcoming space. Nassauer invites you to enjoy a famous Canterbury Bloody Mary and a variety of dining options while strolling through aisle after aisle of repurposed vintage finds alongside a select group of artisanal handmade goods including Superior Switchel, an artisanal honey maker, a cheese maker, and more.
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Beyond the junk itself, there are many new interactive events at the Bonanza this year. The first is a yarn bombing of Canterbury Park’s life-size horse statue by the famous Minnesota Yarnbomber, Knitteapolis. Nassauer offers, “We’re doing a bit of community outreach with that too, asking fiber arts and knitting groups and the public at large to knit or crochet a pink or orange flower of any pattern and send it directly to her and then she’s making a big wreath of flowers to put around the horse’s neck.” Nassauer adds that anyone who would like to submit a flower to the yarn bombed horse can email email@example.com directly for an address of where to send their flower creation. Additionally, the Bonanza encourages people to take photos in front of the horse and post to Instagram using the hashtag #YarnbombTheBonanza. Each day, Knitteapolis will pick the best photo and as a prize, Junk Bonanza will send the winner a Bonanza t-shirt and a hand-knit item made by Knitteapolis. On the workshop side of the interactive opportunities at Junk Bonanza, the first to mention are the free, hands-on workshops on specialty finishes using clay-based Chalk Paint®, taught by Amanda Ficek, who retails the paint at her four Minnesota Mama’s Happy stores. Next up are the free, ongoing demos of a personal paint sprayer developed especially for claybased, self-priming paints by Wagner SprayTech. More workshops come from Minneapolis home and garden expert Larry Pfarr; he aims to share fun ideas to help prep your home and garden for Spring and entertaining season using vintage elements. There will also be multiple “Lucky Friday” giveaways all day Friday, and an on-site Ki Nassauer Shop that that curates junker-inspired clothing in exclusive Ki Nassauer designs. At the end of the day, the Bonanza is about so much more than junk. It’s about the sea of old friends coming together for their yearly tradition, mothers and daughters enjoying vintage items, and newcomers taking in the magic for the first time. Nassauer shares, “We have really quality vendors. All this stuff in one spot that is really hard to find otherwise. Plus, it’s a great party! People are always in a great mood at the Bonanza—it’s pretty hard to not have a smile on your face when you see people who are so delighted with what they find.”
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Wanda Gag S P THE
By Leah Matzke
Tied to his childhood home and love for art, New Ulm, Minnesota native Jason Jaspersen is the creative force behind a project to commemorate New Ulm’s internationally acclaimed artist, author and illustrator, Wanda Gag, in bronze for generations to come. Growing up in New Ulm, Jaspersen says Wanda Gag and her work was something you heard about a lot. “The first time I remember being aware of Wanda Gag was at a workshop in high school. I remember visiting the Wanda Gag house, seeing her illustrations and learning about her life. Wanda’s rags to riches story in New Ulm is really something. Her father was an artist and on his deathbed he told Wanda to ‘finish what he could not.’ She supported the family through years of poverty, a real-life Cinderella story.” When reflecting on Wanda Gag’s legacy, Jaspersen shares, “I think of her first as an artist. Through this project I have learned that she had a lot of drive and was a productive, imaginative woman. I also learned she was a serious gallery artist. She may be most famous for Millions of Cats and her other children’s books, but most don’t know that gallery art was her first love. Artists do not get to set their legacy.” Jaspersen continues, “For both her books and art, Wanda was really internationally famous, something that is more difficult to appreciate when you live here in New Ulm, her home town. She was the first to span the page of a book with an illustration, likely asking ‘why not?’ and then finding a printer to help her make it happen.” Scheduled for completion by the end of 2016, the Wanda Gag Sculpture Project started back in 2011 when Jaspersen first presented the idea after teaching a summer sculpting class and brought the concept to the Wanda Gag Association. A committee was formed in 2013 entitled the Wanda Gag Monument Committee to formally explore the project and collect ideas submitted from various artists. Eventually the project ended up in Jaspersen’s hands. This committee is still working diligently alongside Jaspersen.
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photos by Jason Jaspersen PROJECT ISSUE - VOL 1, NO. 4 - 2016 | 17
I love public sculpture – the way you don’t know the relationships it will create with those who encounter the piece for generations to come ... that is what excites me the most. — Jason Jaspersen 18 MAKE IT MINNESOTA
“For an artist, getting a project like this is something of a catch 22—you can’t prove you can do it until you’ve done it, but you can’t do it until someone trusts you to try,” notes Jaspersen. “It is a first of its kind for me and I would love to do more bronze projects. I have done pieces larger than Hermann the German (officially known as Hermann Heights Monument, a 27 foot tall statue in New Ulm, MN). I have done life size relief sculpture and smaller scale figures, but to do a life size bronze takes both money and time to make.” What started five years ago is now coming to life. “We have now officially had an exhibit, formally introducing the statue pose to the public as a ¼ scale version.” To complement the exhibit Jason did a painting of the model as envisioned to sit in front of the library. Reflecting on the exhibit, which was held February 26th, 2016 at The Grand in New Ulm, Jaspersen shares, “It was the largest crowd ever at The Grand—packed! Wonderful evening and a great reception. People ask me about this project all the time the community support has been great. To embark on public art is kind of treacherous waters—so many people care and really want it right; their heart gets into it.” Having completed a ¼ model the next stage for the project is the ½ model. When asked why not just move to the final, life size piece Jaspersen replied, “Some would say, ‘isn’t that more work?’ But scaling up allows me to work out technical problems and get familiar with how the form works on a smaller scale. Getting it right at this size is easier and I scale up from there. This allows me to say, ‘Are you sure?’ to myself and committee before investing in the full size piece.” How will this piece affect future generations in New Ulm? Jaspersen admits, “I don’t know. You leave it and let it do what it is going to do, but that is why I love public sculpture—you don’t know the relationships it will create with those who encounter the piece for generations to come. Kids see things and parents won’t even know the impact or memories it will create. When I was a child of 3 or 4 years old, in New Ulm there was a motorcycle on a spring; I loved it and remember it to this day (it is still there). It is stuff like that, when a city can offer a shared experience with its community in the form of a sculpture like this—that is what excites me the most.”
You can support this project. Limited edition prints of the painting above are thank you gifts for donors of $100 or more. Donations can be sent to Wanda Gag Monument Committee, Inc. P.O. Box 362, New Ulm, MN 56073. You can follow the project online through Jaspersen’s website www.jjjaspersen.com as well as on facebook at https://facebook.com/wandagagsculptureproject. PROJECT ISSUE - VOL 1, NO. 4 - 2016 | 19
Seed Starting 101 Tootie & Dotes + Resident Green Thumb & Contributor: Amanda Eastvold Photos by Anne Ingman
Why Should I Start Seeds? It’s April here in the Northland, but don’t let this warm weather fool you. The temperatures can and WILL fluctuate and nightly freezing is still happening throughout most of the state. (It’s actually snowing as I write this). While we northern gardeners are busy dreaming of dirt, gathering supplies and planning our plots, we are mostly just waiting. Waiting and waiting. Waiting for our seeds to arrive in the mail and waiting for the ground to thaw. The good news is, you don’t have to wait any longer to get your garden on! The end of March and beginning of April is the perfect time to start your seeds indoors. No matter how many times I start seeds, I never tire of this yearly ritual. It pleases me to no end to transform my kitchen into a mini-greenhouse for an afternoon and then watch my little babies growing happily on a sunny shelf. I just love to get my hands dirty once again and to smell that soil and to... oh, I’m sorry, where was I? Oh right! If you’d like to try your hand at starting seeds, or have tried it before with less than stellar results, I’m here to tell you: YOU CAN DO IT.
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It can be a real drag to live in Zone 4, but we love our home state and I won’t trash talk her. Here in Minnesota, we straddle Zones 3 and 4 according the plant hardiness zone map. This means our growing season extends from mid May (last frost date) to mid September (first frost date). That means we need to give tender plants and plants that require a longer growing season a head start. But let’s get right down to it.
Containers: Seed trays or pots and covers Labels Squirt bottle or small nozzled watering can Sunny window (south or southwest facing) Soil: Seed Starting Mix (do not attempt to use soil from your garden) Seeds!
There are lots of choices here. If you’re a first timer, keep it simple and use individual pots. You can use round plastic pots or peat pots (the fiber-looking ones). Peat pots are great for all types of seeds and are planted out directly into the ground so you don’t have to worry about disturbing the root system. While some people might steer you towards them, do not use egg cartons. These are too shallow for healthy root growth and wick moisture away from the soil rapidly. Peat pots can come individually or in 6 packs, either work nicely. I suggest placing any pots you use into a seed tray to allow drainage that won’t damage your surface. If you’d like to plant more seeds per surface area, or you have limited space indoors, you might consider getting seed trays. These are long, flat, black plastic trays that can be fitted with clear plastic covers. In a seed tray, you can plant many more seeds. I find it easier to work with trays because they take up less space; I can keep the soil more evenly moist and I use less soil overall. The only drawback is that you may have to repot the seedlings into bigger pots as they grow. If you’re using the tray method, a soil blocker can be a good investment. This compacts and shapes the planting medium into nice square cubes, allowing you to plant seeds individually into each block. If you’re just starting out, don’t worry about this step. If you don’t have a soil blocker, a small spatula can help you “cut” the soil into cubes or blocks. No matter what type of container you choose, make sure they are clean. If you are reusing old plastic pots or seed trays, make sure to clean them with warm soapy water, then disinfect them with a water and bleach solution to get rid of any bacteria that could infect the seed or soil.
Save Money It is way more economical to purchase your seeds, a few trays and soil than it is to purchase plants that have been grown in a greenhouse. You can get an entire seed packet for the same price as a single tomato plant at the market.
Plant Variety If you look at any seed catalogue, or even the seed stands at co-ops or nurseries, you have much more choice in what you plant. Cherokee purple tomatoes? Velour green beans? Hansel and Gretel eggplants? Hello?
Organic Veggies If you’re into organic gardening (and I know you ARE), then it makes sense to know that the veggies and herbs you’ll be planting have been planted in organic material and come from organic seed.
While you don’t technically need them, clear plastic seed tray covers trap heat and moisture so the seedlings stay warmer and dry out less quickly. I recommend these. Saran wrap can also be used, but if you’re purchasing seed trays, just go ahead and get the covers too. The plastic covers also serve to keep tiny hands from looking for treasures in the soil (that has happened more times than I can count). Once the seedlings start to emerge, you will remove the cover.
SOIL / PLANTING MEDIA
Make sure to get seed starting mix, and DO NOT use soil from your garden! Seed starting mix doesn’t have any actual “soil” in it at all. It is usually a mix of vermiculite and peat, and can contain other organic matter such as worm castings. Buy organic whenever possible. Commercial seed starting mix is sterile and is finer and lighter than regular potting soil and will hold moisture longer.
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INSTRUCTIONS Step 1: Prepare your Potting Mix Mix the seed starting mixture with water in a large plastic tub. This gets the “soil” evenly moist and you won’t have to worry about it settling in the pots. Mixture should be moist and can be shaped easily into a ball, however, it should not be saturated. You should not be able to squeeze excess water out of the ball. If you’ve added too much water, simply add more potting mix and vice versa.
Step 2: Fill Pots or Trays Fill your pots and/or trays with this mixture. Tap the pots or tray on the table or floor as you fill it to help the mixture settle. You can press it gently with your hands, but do not pack it super tight; you just don’t want air pockets in the soil. If you are using a tray and don’t have a soil blocker, you can use a tool to “cut” the soil into cubes to hold individual seeds. These cubes will basically be their own self-contained pot. This is a good test to see if your soil is moist enough. The cubes should not crumble when cut. If they do, dump it back in the bin and add more water.
Step 3: Add Seeds I use a pencil to make a small hole for the seed to go in. They do not have to be very deep; if the pencil is sharpened I poke it down to where the yellow begins. Plant 2-3 seeds per hole. Just know that once the seeds have germinated and formed their first true leaves, you will pinch off any extra seedlings. Some people find it easiest to pour the seeds onto a small plate first. I usually pour them into my palm and lick my finger and “pick up seeds” on my fingertip. Cover the hole with a tiny pinch of wet soil.
Step 4: Cover Seeds and Place in a Warm Location Use a clear plastic cover or saran wrap to cover the seeds to retain heat and moisture. Seeds need warmth to germinate and this will trap the heat and also retain moisture. Usually a south or southwest facing window will provide enough light and warmth if you use a tray cover. Some people put the seed trays on the top of their refrigerators to get them to germinate. They don’t need light to germinate, just warmth. Don’t place them on a radiator, that heat is too intense for little seeds.
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Step 5: Watering It is very important to check the seeds daily and to water only when they appear “dry” (the soil will be lighter) or if it is dry to touch. Water pots around the edges, and if you have cut your soil into blocks or used a soil blocker, only water in the “trough” between the blocks. Never water directly on top of the seed. This could wash away tiny seeds and can cause mold to grow on the soil and cause the seedling to rot, a condition called “damping off.” Soil should remain moist, but not saturated. Be diligent with your checking, but don’t over water. There should never be standing water in the tray. If this happens, poke a hole in the tray and let it drain fully, then reduce your watering.
Step 6: Seedling care Once your seeds have germinated (poked their little green heads up), remove the plastic cover and place in a sunny south or southwest-facing window. Now that your seeds are up, they have used all of their internal energy and need the sun to make energy now. Just like human babies, they need lots of attention and care. Check your seedlings often and if you’re weird, talk to them. Better yet, sing to them. Seedlings can get soft, pale and “leggy” (long and spindly) if they are not getting enough light. If this is the case, you may have to move the seeds around in your space to give them more light. (I have successfully grown seeds in a south window without grow lights for many seasons.) It is also important to turn the trays or pots as the seedlings “reach” toward the light so they grow more evenly.
These online sources are great places to find seeds: Botanical Interests Fedco Seeds Johnny Seeds Seed Savers Exchange Seeds of Change Rare Seeds
Labels You can use any method to mark your seeds that works for you. I use computer sticker labels on seed trays and specify the number of seeds I’ve planted (remember all tomato and pepper varieties look the same, so if you’re planting several varieties, label them). Sticker labels will work on individual plastic pots too. For peat pots, you will need to use popsicle sticks or some other label that goes into the soil.
Step 7: “Hardening Off ” The last and maybe most important thing you need to know about starting seeds indoors is that these tender plants will need to be “hardened off ” before transplanting to your garden. Hardening off simply means you give your young plants daily doses of the great outdoors for about a week before planting. Find a place out of the wind and direct sunlight to put your seedlings and leave them outside for about two hours the first day. You will continue to bring your seedlings into the house at night. Gradually increase the direct sunlight they get by a few hours each day, so they can slowly get used to being outdoors. (Yes, plants can get sunburned just like us! Watch out for white spots on the leaves. If you see them, move your seedlings to a more shaded area or dappled light). In addition, if heavy rain is expected, keep the seedlings inside as they will be damaged by pounding rain. You will need to be careful to keep them moist as they will dry out more quickly in direct light. There is nothing worse than tending to your sweet little seedlings only to see them shrivel up and get scorched right at the end due to improper hardening off. Brassicas can be planted out as early as April if they are ready and have been hardened off, as they can withstand a light frost and cooler temps. Tender plants like tomatoes, peppers and eggplants should not be transplanted into the garden before the last possible frost date. This step can be the most tedious of all, some gardeners call it the “spring shuffle”. But don’t fret; it won’t be long before you’re putting these babes into the soil once and for all. PROJECT ISSUE - VOL 1, NO. 4 - 2016 | 23
The Mindful Harvest: Discovering Self and Nature Through Still Life Photography Words by Emy Crane Majority of Images by Mary Jo Hoffman “You want to know the secret? Make good stuff and put it where people can see it.” Mary Jo Hoffman, creator of the blog STILL, recites this Austin Kleon quote with unrestrained delight. Her hands, earlier molded together, are now in movement towards me with palms open as if she is handing me the words. I take this gesture as a gift and scribble down the name of the book she references, Show Your Work!
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“Austin Kleon inspired me to share something small every day.”
our kids with an opportunity to cement their language acquisition.”
In 2011, Mary Jo and her husband, Steve, decided to move their family from Shoreview, MN to Languedoc, a small rural village in southwestern France. Their two children, Eva and Joseph, were attending L’Etoile du Nord French Immersion school in St. Paul, MN at that time and were conversational in French, but not fluent. “Steve and I wanted to provide
The Hoffman’s saw the move as an academic and cultural adventure for their children, and simultaneously a chance for themselves to practice for the next phase of their life together— an early retirement where they would be able to discover their true crafts. Prior to the family’s relocation to France, Mary Jo had transitioned
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muted, watercolor hues. “I kept the majority of my artwork hidden on my computer or in journals stashed away on the bookshelves.” It wasn’t until her time abroad that Mary Jo found the inspiration to unveil her creativity and put into perspective the words she had read of Kleon.
from an aerospace engineer to the equally demanding role of stay-at-home mom. Meanwhile she had been privately sketching and dabbling in photography as a hobby for years. Mary Jo opens a journal, which lies on the wooden table before her, and brushes her fingers over the handmade paper. Her thoughts and sketches are married on the pages marked with bold ink and
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On January 1, 2012, Mary Jo challenged herself with a goal to spend the new year passing through life with a heightened awareness. She vowed to pay more attention to nature and began to forage for raw and ordinary natural objects as she explored her new home of Languedoc. Each day she’d place her findings on the kitchen table or on white paper she had laid on the floor in the bedroom to achieve the perfect diffused light. She’d then thoughtfully craft an assemblage of the objects on her blank canvas and photograph her design to share on her blog, STILL. “I assumed that it would just be this obscure, daily exercise—literally like doing warm ups before a workout—but it soon became much more to me. It became a true life enhancer.”
After 7 months in France, Mary Jo and her family returned home to Shoreview, MN. She has since started her fifth year of posting a daily image on STILL and has recently partnered with Target Corp. and West Elm to create exclusive, home collections featuring her still life photography. “I thought I’d spend a year building a quiet portfolio in a small corner of the Internet, but the blog unexpectedly began to take off. I found an unplanned success and knew I had to run with the exposure.” Today, STILL seems like an intuitive label for Mary Jo’s collection work—the definition of the word being rooted to the spot. It inherently describes Mary Jo’s daily search for natural objects near her home and her minimalistic, still life designs, which manifest as a diverse area of ecosystems that celebrate the beauty of being present in nature. I ask Mary Jo if there is a deeper message that she hopes to convey with her work— perhaps an effort to evoke a conversation around sustainability or authenticity. She explains that the notion of living authentically first resonated with her when
she was able to understand the term as “consciously living one’s values.” She believes that we live in a world where we are constantly overstimulated, and the hyperattentiveness that comes with the process behind STILL has allowed her to slow down and better appreciate nature. Mary Jo hopes this self-discovery simply translates to her followers. Even with the harsh daylight and temperature constraints that come with a Northern winter, Mary Jo still holds true to her original vision of one collection, one image, once a day. “I’m not a purist, but I’ve always been fascinated by a life well lived.” Her cheeks are still rosy from today’s cool air, and I can’t help but wonder if she had been foraging for today’s piece prior to meeting with me for our morning coffee. Mary Jo Hoffman resides in Shoreview, MN with her husband, Steve, and her two children, Eva and Joseph. Her work can be found on stillblog.net, and her exclusive Target Corp. and West Elm collections are now available for purchase online. Steve Hoffman is a home-chef and writer who has won three national food journalism awards, and his work has been anthologized in Best American Food Writing 2014 and 2015. NOTE: Mary Jo Hoffmann hired photographer, Wing Ta, and the creative direction of Martha McQuade and Dan Clark of Mad Work studio to create the beautifully unique STILL by Mary Jo Hoffman Target Corp. Collection product photos.
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Project Issue Instagram Contest
WHAT INSPIRES YOU? #MakeItMN_inspire
During this gloomy, temperamental time of year in the North, we asked our followers to tap into their sources of inspiration by sharing their original photos with #MakeItMN_Inspire. And the results wereâ€Ś inspiring! It was a tough, lovely task narrowing down over 300 entries to these Top 10 winning photographs. The #1 winning photographer, Amy Seine (@Bikeygirl), is being awarded an awesome package of two spots in an upcoming glass art class from the contest sponsor, Lake Superior Art Glass, a complete torchwork glass studio located in downtown Duluth, MN. We hope to have published a photography collection that shares the bevy of beauty that inspires each of us to continue to create, inquire, hope, and grow. Enjoy!
WINNING IMAGE @Bikeygirl
Which side are you on?
proudly sponsored by
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He writes to remember. He writes to forget.
I, on the other hand, love the thrill of the edge.
Never lose your sense of wander.
I find inspiration in the diverse beauty we have in Minnesota. We have impressive urban landscapes as well as natural beauty with our lakes and wildlife. From the urban side of things, it’s tough to beat a view of Minneapolis from the Stone Arch Bridge on a nice afternoon or evening.
Lake of the Isles for me is inner peace, inspiration, and the most sublime escape...
Superior Shallows - Gitche Gumee can keep a secret & in her presence I always find solace whether she’s smooth as glass or a raging torrent. Much like enjoying a starry night or the majesty of a mountain, Superior leaves me humbled in its grandeur & inspired to protect it.
“After the grey of winter, the sight of green buds on the lilac trees is motivating me to start planning my first garden!”
This city kid saw his first owl tonight, waded in Minnehaha Creek and Lake Hiawatha and met a new pal at the park during a looooong game of follow the leader.
Last winter… Getting this shot was super sketchy! At one point I heard the ice shift under my feet so I snapped a few flicks then dipped. Now I’m looking back at the shot and thinking to myself... That was so worth it! What do you think? PROJECT ISSUE - VOL 1, NO. 4 - 2016 | 29
An Inter view with Alexandra Petrova Photographer and Curator of @Rochester_MN Instagram Account
How do you think your Instagram account enhances the ‘local’ movement? We love going out and trying out new places and especially finding unique locally owned places. When we do so, we feel the need to let everybody know about it and make people want to discover these places for themselves. We created the tag #rochester_mn for the profile and it filled quickly with more than five thousand photos. I like to go through and find photos to feature in our gallery. I often hear that what they see in our gallery motivates people even more to go out and share their photo memories. Managing the @Rochester_MN Instagram account, I also met many talented artists online and offline. Browsing through the tags and places I found this amazing wood artist who had her art displayed in the local coffee shop and ordered a two-sided background plank for my still-life and detail photos. How has it impacted the community? I like how people interact between themselves when they see an interesting post in our gallery. It’s often about the places to go out to eat. Very often I would share a photo from a spot and they’ll tag each other saying this is the place for their next date. Last fall we organized an Instameet and we were delighted to see so many who expressed interest and joined us for an afternoon of creativity. We had so much fun walking in the downtown, chatting and taking pictures. We’re definitely looking forward to come up with a new one sometime soon. I read that you’re from Russia. What brought you here? What is your relationship to Minnesota? Yes, I’m from Russia. My husband and I moved here in 2010 from Paris, France where we met and were living before we moved to Rochester. Bharath got the job at the Mayo Clinic and we started to plan our moving to a state I never heard the name of before. It wasn’t easy and we still miss Paris a lot. I had to eventually stop comparing our Minnesota life to life we had in Paris, embrace it and make the most of our new experience. Although we initially experienced culture shock, five years later, we call Rochester, MN our home. How would you describe your photography style? How has Minnesota impacted it? Living in Minnesota literally taught me to see and capture the beauty around me. After we got driver’s licenses for the first time in our lives and also a car, we started going out of Rochester and traveling inside Minnesota a lot (mostly to the cities, but also to other small towns around Rochester). Almost every weekend we would drive to the places close to Rochester, wander around, explore local shops and restaurants and of course, take lots of pictures. We have our favorites like Lanesboro, Lake City, Red Wing where we like to return and especially show these places to our guests who visit us in Rochester. Has this account changed the way you approach photographing your home? It did in a way that we’re constantly looking for new angles and details in places we walked dozens of times. We like to experience with different techniques of taking and editing our photos to make them look interesting and fresh. Alexandra Petrova is a professional photographer based in Rochester, MN. She works as a team with her husband Bharath Petrova for their business AB-Photography.us. She specializes in weddings, engagement, college-senior fashion portrait, family and event photography. Her style of photography can be best described as a gradient between modern to vintage, with a sense of European flavor to it. 30 MAKE IT MINNESOTA
Alexandra Petrova at local favorite Rochester coffee shop, Steam CafĂŠ
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Kitchen Superior Spring Cocktails By Melina Lamer, founder of Superior Switchel Co.
Centuries ago, switchel was the original outdoorsmanâ€™s choice beverage. American hay farmers claimed it quenched their thirst and settled their stomachs, all while providing energy for the long day ahead. There are many variations of switchel, but no matter the recipe, the outcome is a slightly sweet and tangy, ginger-infusion that can be drank hot, cold, or mixed.
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Recipes: Moscow Mule
1/2 oz. lime juice 2 oz. vodka 8 oz. Superior Switchel (Orange Maple) Directions: Squeeze lime juice into a Moscow Mule mug and add 2-3 ice cubes. Pour in the vodka and top off with Superior Switchel. If desired, garnish with a lime.
Gin and Switchel
1/2 oz. lime juice 3 oz. gin 4 oz. Superior Switchel (The Haymaker) Directions: Combine gin, Switchel, and lime juice in a tall, chilled glass with ice cubes. Stir and garnish with a lime wedge.
1.5 oz. rum or bourbon 6 oz. Superior Switchel (Lavender Lemon heated) Directions: Combine ingredients in a warmed mug. If desired, garnish with a lemon or cinnamon stick
Today, everyone can reap the benefits of switchel. Whether you’re playing pond hockey, uprooting a carrot, or sitting by a campfire—get ready for an honest, refreshing beverage. At Superior Switchel Co. we craft a traditional switchel—brewed with fresh Organic Ginger, Organic Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar, and Local Minnesota Wildflower Honey or Wisconsin Maple Syrup— poured right into a reusable Mason jar or growler. All of our flavors (The Haymaker, Orange Maple, and Lavender Lemon) take your health into consideration, and for every bottle purchased, you’re contributing to the conservation of our great lakes. Superior Switchel Co. — reminding you to be superior inside and out! Ask for this original outdoorsman’s beverage at your local retailer.
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The Project Issue Creative Challenge—
PROJECT When we thought about what sort of Creative Challenge would match the concept behind the Project Issue, we considered all the brilliant ways people all around Minnesota express themselves through their handmade projects. We invited our followers to flex their creativity and share their projects with us!
We set out to learn what people are making, their creative process, and what inspires their busy hands and innovative imagination. As you might have guessed, we received some amazing projects. Enjoy a few of our favorite submissions.
If you have a project you would like to share with us, submit your work at makeitmn.com!
Ashley Rollings Basics of Project: I think the rustic board is really what makes my state string art unique. Customers are usually surprised to hear I buy all of my wood brand-new and then ‘destroy it with care’. I like to say it’s a way to get the rustic look without the rustic smell. Once the board is good to go, I use a template of a state’s outline to pound out all of the nails while carefully avoiding my fingers... most of the time. The final step is stringing the sign, which is something I have done so many times I could probably string Minnesota in my sleep! Actually I do! I have dreams about making signs and filling Etsy orders ALL the time.
What drew you to this project? My husband and I had just bought our first house together and we had some serious empty walls to fill. I am super stingy with money, so I was perusing Pinterest for home decor that I could make myself. I stumbled on a DIY state string art pin and decided to give it a try. From there family and friends started asking me to make MN string art for them too. This encouraged me to give some local craft shows a try and last June I finally took the plunge to try out Etsy... things have just snowballed from there. I recently strung my 1000th state sign and passing that milestone just seems so unreal to me.
What has this project given you? My home decor business (witheyesunlocked.) started simply as
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a way to fill my free time, but it has become so much more than that. I’ve always been a reserved person who sits back and really observes the world around me. Because of Etsy I am connecting with people all over the country, providing them with home decor that isn’t just another mass-produced sign filling an empty space. I am a big believer that where you are from matters. It’s the people you meet along your journey and the places you’ve been that shape your life into what it is. Starting this business has totally shaken up my world, and now I’m attacking each day with eyes unlocked.
Naomi Goff Basics of project: My brand is called Made in Minny and my project is handcrocheted slouchy beanies! They are designed with fashion and function in mind. I would describe my beanies as soft, chunky and warm. I offer a variety of colors for both guys and gals.
What drew you to this project? I had always wanted to start my own brand and decided my handmade beanies would be a great accessory to begin with. I crocheted my own beanies and got compliments on them, so I decided why not share them with the world? It’s an accessory everyone in Minnesota could use, a nice warm hat for chilly weather, and an extra bonus that it’s fashionable!
What has your project given you? My project has given me the opportunity to express creativity daily, which is essentially why I started Made in Minny. It has allowed me to explore new places in Minnesota that I wouldn’t have normally gone. I do all of my own photography, so I get to capture the beauty of MN while having fun with friends—it doesn’t get much better for me!
John Zasada Basics of project: Scandinavian/Russian style traditional birch bark weaving is a centuries old craft/art form. Although I weave different basket types, I want to focus on birch bark stars. I harvest birch outer bark (used to weave the stars) and basswood inner bark (used to make twine to hang the ornaments) from northern Minnesota forests to make these stars. Chris Rostvold (co-owner of Frame-Up Gallery and wool felter) collects the oak acorn caps and makes the little “acorns” used to make the stars.
What drew you to this project? I worked as a research forester in the U.S. Forest Service for 40+ years and one of the areas of work that I was most interested in was tree anatomy and morphology. “By accident” I learned of a class at North House Folk School and signed up and became immediately interested in trying to understand the bark of birch and other trees and how it has been used over the centuries by Indigenous peoples from around the global northern forest. It seemed like a really nice way to try and bring together the traditional knowledge of these materials developed over centuries and the knowledge developed through botanical and ecological research. Also I was concerned that forest management was not adequately interested in the use of these materials and wanted to try and increase the understanding of professional land managers and the general public.
What has your project given you? Two things are most important to me. First has been meeting and
working with people from all walks of life that are interested in plant/tree materials gathered from Minnesota’s northwoods. It has been very educational for me. Second, has been understanding the entire process of working with these materials—including bark harvesting, bark storage, bark preparation for weaving and the weaving process. In particular it has been really fascinating to begin to better understand all aspects of bark variability (color, difference among bark layers, seasonal variation and other variables).
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Catherine Schoenherr Basics of project: Saami inspired bracelets
What drew you to this project? A desire to learn about other cultures and ways of living and being.
What has your project given you? A connection to my Norwegian ancestors and so much more. I’d like to share my artist statement: “If you want to see the mountain you are standing on, you have to climb the far mountain.” The far mountains for me are the cultures and crafts of my northern ancestors who inspire my art today. In the land of the northern lights, midnight sun and reindeer, the indigenous Saami people live on and so do their crafts. Centuries ago, the Saami people developed a way of spinning metal thread and then began embroidering it on reindeer leather thus creating wearable art that celebrates their ingenuity and connection with the animals who have provided the Saami with sustenance and longevity. Studying this culture and their crafts I am once again reminded that there are many different ways to live and be. When I stand on my mountain, I look down and see myself rooted in the history and art of the far mountains. It is my hope my bracelets reflect that connection. Please enjoy wearing this art on your journey!
Lauren Cummins Basics of project: This project is called Self Care Solitaire. Through collage and graphic design, I am creating playing card decks that can be used as self care guides. The first of three upcoming decks is the Journey Deck, which I’m designing as an atlas for spiritual adventure, to help satisfy wanderlust. The images and words that will be printed on each card are meant to evoke a fascination with the unknown, and inspire exploration of the external and internal worlds we inhabit.
What drew you to this project? I am a psychotherapist, and I consistently notice an absence of self-care in the lives of my clients (as well as the lives of my friends and family.) I find that much of the clinical work I do involves helping clients come up with ideas for activities, mantras, and new thought patterns that allow them to meet their own emotional and spiritual needs. This project evolved out of a desire to inspire others, whether they are in therapy or not, to develop a practice of radical self-love and care for themselves in the way they deserve.
What has your project given you? Working on this project has helped me to expand my own toolkit of self-care options. The process itself, of collaging magazine images onto cardstock and then adding words through adobe 36 MAKE IT MINNESOTA
illustrator, has allowed me to explore the link between selfcare and creativity in a mindful way. This has been incredibly rewarding, and has opened my mind to the diverse array of options we all can access in order to care for ourselves.
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“Something Divine” I walked here once before Something from a dream
Morning in an age old wood Barefoot and on my own
The dawn of time, an early day When seeds had just been sewn By myself, it is true,
Yet somehow not alone
It’s drier now, then in the past Even in the morning dew
The damp of yesterday day not gone Dawn was bright and new The air was not clearer
But different in my mind The f irst breath taken
Refreshing, almost kind
I walked here once before Maybe just dream
The year and date unremembered But on a Tuesday it would seem
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