I am a crafter of utilitarian housewares including broomcorn brooms and wooden kitchenware. I am inspired by weaving stories of life in the north into my work – a wetland scene of grasses, cattails and a red-winged blackbird carved along the rim of a bowl for example. I want my craft to tell a story about the history of the area and to tie in locally harvested materials. I enjoy bringing broom making, a traditionally east coast and Appalachian craft, to the northern ecosystems by incorporating birch bark and black ash into whisk broom handles and local saplings into the handles of my full-sized brooms, while my woodturning focuses mostly on wood from local birch and maple forests while also incorporating other local materials such as antler and birchbark.
My process begins by walking into the woods along the dogsledding trail near my cabin wearing snowshoes and mukluks, carrying a saw in my hand and pulling a sled. My background as an ecologist and forester and knowledge of the ecosystem feed my decisions as to which species and trees are best to harvest and will not impact the forest detrimentally. After harvesting what I can, I head to my shop where I allow broom handles to dry for six months and in the meantime turn kitchen wares from the freshly cut birch before the logs can dry out and crack. I draw inspiration from examples of historical Scandinavian woodenware, as well as from some of my favorite items found around my home. I might mimic in wood the size and shape of my favorite little pottery cup, or take an item as simple as a plastic pour-over coffee funnel and try to emulate it in wood.
I strive to maintain folk craft aesthetics and function in my work, but also appreciate pushing the boundaries of tradition to realize my vision. I continue to be excited about incorporating new materials and bright colors into broom making to keep the craft dynamic and compelling. As a woodworker, my goal is to replace plastic, glass and metal kitchen utensils with wood and to continue to explore shapes, colors and themes that echo the feel of the north shore and our historical Scandinavian influence while also maintaining relevance in the modern world. I hope that people are inspired to use the items I craft, to understand that these are items that have a long history of use in the home and are crafted not only to stand up to daily wear and tear, but to build character and stories through their use.