2023 Intern Slöjd Projects
This month, we say farewell to our 2023 interns. The interns completed their 10-month internship with a capstone project known as a “Slöjd Project.” Read on to learn more about their projects.
In addition to welcoming winter, Winterers’ Gathering brings another milestone in the North House year: saying farewell to this year’s Craft Eductation Interns.
Since we introduced them back in January, the 2023 interns—Mazzy, Laura, Emma, and Dani—have deckhanded on the Hjørdis, taught breads classes and kids’ classes, done craft demonstrations on the commons, and spent about 40 days in class each. (Collectivelty, they also hosted 27 pizza bakes, firing 800-1000 pizzas!)
They have each grown as craftspeople and teachers, and we will miss seeing the four of them on campus.
In addition to all their other work on the North House campus, each intern completed a capstone project known as a “Slöjd Project.” (Slöjd is a Swedish term that roughly translates to “handcraft.”) This year’s interns give us a glimpse into their slöjd projects—read on to learn more. Thank you to The Barbo Osher Pro Suecia Foundation for supporting this year’s slöjd projects.
Throughout my internship, I have been drawn to making bags. I have found the construction process fascinating; the creation of a 3D object out of 2D materials and the math and manipulation of materials this entails has drawn me in. For my slöjd project, I am continuing on this craft exploration with a newer material to me: leather. My goal is to create three hand-sewn leather crossbody bags, all with separate designs and hardware elements.
I have found peace in the meditative process of leatherwork—the repetitive back and forth of the needles and thread as I sew pieces together, the intentionality of every cut and hole punched, and the way the leather fibers slowly condense as I wet mold my pieces. I truly enjoy this process. I have learned so much during this project, including everything from hardware and rivets to the differences in leather from different areas on the hide to the structural necessities of a bag. I have so much more to learn that I am excited to explore even further after my internship.
“Baskets chose me” is often what I say when asked about my craft focus, and among other basketmakers this is a common refrain. As a sculptor and amateur naturalist, basketmaking combines my love of being out in nature along with my love of making things by hand. For my slöjd project, I decided to work on three basket materials of the boreal forest—black ash, birch bark, and willow—based on the concepts of foraging, gathering, and sharing. My intention is to develop relationships with the materials by investigating their temperament, how they are harvested, and what shapes suit them best, and also develop relationships with other artisans by foraging with local artisans, sharing community skill share basket nights, and gathering stories from the countless naturalists in Grand Marais.
The central goal of my slöjd project was to strengthen and develop my personal woodworking practice. I wanted to focus on skill building and understanding of the craft, so as a way to do that I chose to build jewelry/trinket boxes. In taking a step back to look at my (extremely new) woodworking practice, I realized I needed to include building a table-top workbench for holding pieces in place as I work. So much of successful crafting is about having the right infrastructure and tools to work with. I built the bench from plans that I purchased online and found it to be a good way to ease into my project.
I have been lucky enough to work with Jim Sannerud on my boxes, and have deeply appreciated the depth of detail he has gone into the process of a project. Working with him, I have been set up with a strong base and background knowledge to plan and execute a woodworking project from ground zero.
To me, slöjd inspires self-reliance. It starts with a need—an item missing from our home that would make life easier, for example—and the drive to learn to make it for ourselves. For my slöjd project, I aim to create a variety of tools that will aid my craft journey as well as potentially fulfill the tool-needs of the community. Among my projects, I have forged a blacksmithing hammer and a carving axe, both of which will likely outlive me.
Though my cohort and I have been exposed to a wide array of crafts throughout this program, willow basketry is one that has hooked us all. We have adopted willow rod bits as a permanent addition to our living room floor and share a singular bodkin. This is what inspired me to forge a stock of basketry tools for future students and interns to use as my community contribution. These will include bodkins, rapping irons, and a willow brake—all of which will also be available for use during Laura’s Basket Club!