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"Live it up, it goes quick!"

Posted on April 20, 2016
by North House Folk School

Eleven weeks here already and it feels like we have only just arrived...I will be your host Elizabeth Belz (in the orange hat) and I am here until November, but for right now I'm here to introduce, (or to reintroduce if you've already read our bios), to Team Intern 2016!

First up for introduction we have Samuel Gathje of Rochester, Minnesota. Sam might look intimidating but he's a gentle giant, and a fantastic teacher. Sam takes pride in his work and quite prefers things to be done right the first time. Especially when it comes to all things wood which is very obvious when you have a chance to look at his work, which is always elegant and thoughtfully crafted.

Just two Rochester Boys (Sam and Charlie Mayo).

Teaching at Paddle to the Sea 2016.

Carving in the intern loft.


Craft Focus area: Spoon carving, tool making and chair making.

Intern focus area: School Store

Building: Red building

Sam's most memorable class thus far has been John Beltman's stool making class because he said it was great fun to work along with all the other interns in a material he knows quite well but using tools that he never knew existed before coming to North House. Sam also commends John on being a teacher who successfully balances modern and traditional tools when creating fine craft.

Next up is Rebecca "Becky" Fitzpatrick, born and raised in Franconia, New Hampshire, though seasonal work has put her on a migratory path since, creating a loose triangle from New Hampshire (winters) to Arizona (fall) to MT/WY/ID/UT/CA. Becky may generally hide from the camera but she has a vast stash of knowledge in so many subjects that its hard for us to ask questions at home that she doesn't have some explanation or answer to.


Craft Focus area: N/A - Everything

Intern focus area: Programming

Building: Blue Building

Her most memorable class so far has been "[the] 20 minute session with Jared StoneDahl during afterhours craft time at wood week. He showed me two helpful tips in working with birch bark: using a triangle awl and setting your holes back from the fold by a 1/4"... made all the difference in not splitting the bark."

And Becky would also like to say,"I'm grateful to have teachers to learn from.Learning on one's own is fun and rewarding, but involves time, patience, and plenty of failure and trying again.Having folks around to answer questions is invaluable."

Third we have Brendan Grant of St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Brendan has a love affair with wood and bread baking but what he won't outright tell you is he has a serious book addiction… and I don't mean he's a "casual reader", Brendan Grant is what I would call a book worm. When unloading his car after arriving at NHFS in January 85% of his things were books and book shelves.

Bredan in his natural habitat.

Late night reading.

Reading on break at drawing workshop.


Craft focus area: Baking, woodcarving

Intern focus area: Development

Building: Fish House

When asked if there was anything that surprised him so far Brendan said, "Before starting people kept on telling me what a welcoming community this would be - the word 'family' came up a lot. But I didn't really appreciate what that meant. As I've gotten to know more and more instructors and people connected with North House I am continually pleasantly surprised by their curiosity about us, their eagerness to share their passions, and their love of this place and those of us fortunate enough to work here."

Brendan's most memorable class so far was building the Susan Skiff with John Beltman. "The class made me realize that the process of boatbuilding is even more complex than I'd imagined it could be, but somehow also more accessible. I learned the names for parts of a boat I had never noticed existed, and John was a constant source of knowledge about boatbuilding techniques and history. I'm fascinated by the relationship between meticulous measurement and instinct that informs the shaping of a boat. On the one hand there is the lofting, a full-scale diagram derived from a table of precise measurements for dozens of points along transects running the length, width, and height of the boat. Overlapping front, side, and overhead views are drawn onto two 4' x 8' panels of painted plywood, with the exact location of each mark meticulously checked and double checked.

But then there's the nebulous idea of "fair curve" - a smooth arc free of awkward bends or flat sections. It's a vague definition, but we know it when we see it, and we know when it's lacking. We nail battens to the lofting and bend them to check our measurements against the natural arc formed by the wood. If there is a discrepancy, we do not force the arc to conform to our measurements but rather allow the form of the boat to be guided by the eye's preference for a fair curve. And ultimately it's that judgment, rather than precise mathematical reasoning, that makes a boat look good."

And last but not least here I am... Elizabeth Belz of Stillwater, MN. I enjoy taking pictures of the unsuspecting at every opportune moment and I'm currently 24.5 miles into a 100 mile hiking goal on the Superior Hiking Trail for 2016 (which is a part of the North Country 100 year anniversary.

Stool making with John Beltman.

Oh baby i am flying the scuba kite on the harbor!


Craft focus area: Basketry, Blacksmithing, spinning yarn and broom tying

Intern focus area: Communication

Building: Blacksmithing shop

I think my most memorable class thus far has been Ian's Black Ash Pack Basket class, which I had miraculously got into at the last possible minute. Not only were the materials like no other I have ever used before, but Ian is a fantastically patient teacher, always adjusting for the needs of his students. This class usually fills quickly and has a waiting list so if you're interested you should sign up quick! And plus LOOK AT THIS PACK I MADE ! (Most amazing thing in the history of the WORLD!)


Not only have we lived together and worked together as Team Intern 2016 for eleven weeks now but here a few other things we have done together:

Been featured in the local paper.

Have painfully made it through 2 tablets (ask Brendan).

Made epic messes.

Tapped maple trees with Art and Beth Kidd.

Invited incredible instructors into our loft for dinner (photographer Harley Refsal).

Hung out with founder Mark Hansen.

Invited ourselves into the vaults of the Grand Portage museum ;-) (we had a guide).

Walked on frozen lakes to saunas at Wildreness out on the GFT.

We have done and shared so many things together already, and we have so many more experiences to share just around the corner! Tacked to the inside of the interns door a message left from past 2014 intern Austin: "Live it up, it goes quick!" and without a doubt it does indeed.