Woodsmanship & Tradition at Little Crow Custom Bows

If you get Lee Waltman, owner and sole employee of Little Crow Custom Bows, started on varieties of wood, you’d better have some time on your hands. Not because Waltman is overly wordy or dry, but because he’s a zealot for detail and fastidiously interested in every facet of traditional bow making.  Waltman’s workshop sits … [ Read more]

Beyond Polka: Championing the accordion at Mahler Music

A 20-something man lugs a battered accordion case through the screen door at Mahler Music. As he pulls the instrument out of the box, Ken Mahler is already speaking. “This is a 1930s accordion. Probably 1938 or ’39,” he says, pointing to the engraving and inlay. He tinkers with the strap, points out broken buttons, and … [ Read more]

Black Cat Farmstead: Farm-to-loom art

If you’ve ridden the Metro Green Line in the Twin Cities, you’ve likely seen Andrea Myklebust’s work. The Raymond Avenue, Westgate, and Union Depot light rail stations feature granite, cast bronze, and concrete sculptures carved and forged by Andrea and her husband, Stanton (Stan) Sears. But the bulk of Andrea’s work happens an hour-and-a-half outside … [ Read more]

Southside Battletrain: Human-powered metal machines

There’s a house in South Minneapolis that stands out from the rest. It could be the tangle of vines cascading down the facade. Or maybe it’s the tricycles, yellow canoe, and velociraptor planted in the front yard. On the porch, you’ll find a gorilla suit and the phrase “run 2 run” spelled out on the … [ Read more]

Shoes With Soul: Stylish shoe repair at Greenwich Vintage

It’s me!” Tamas “Zen” Pomazi shouts as he enters Papa’s Shoe Repair II in downtown Waconia. The phrase is a signal to Julio Sanchez—owner of Papa’s—that it is, indeed, him and not a customer. Pomazi passes a row of bookcases that separate the service counter and small retail racks near the entrance from the workshop … [ Read more]

Simple, yet soulful: Woodsport

Wood chips fly as Scott McGlasson presses the tip of a sharp metal gouge against a wooden form mounted to a lathe. While the piece spins, bits of white ash shower onto his clothes like confetti and rain down onto the floor in mounds. As the piles of shavings grow, a shape begins to emerge. … [ Read more]

Craft Culture: An artful existence with Fox Meets Bear

As the shell started to break apart, a mess of wet, matted feathers began to show through the opening. Late into the night, Johnna Holmgren sat on a stool in her living room with her gaze fixed on the incubator set up in front of her. After caring for the eggs inside it with her … [ Read more]

Craft Culture: Farmers of the future at Urban Organics

An inconspicuous white tube travels along the length of the ceiling, connecting two very different rooms. The first room is a cool 60 degrees and smells slightly fishy. Gray concrete floors and colorless walls make the space appear colder than it is. The neighboring room couldn’t be more different. The air smells sweet and vaguely … [ Read more]

Craft Culture: Piecing it together with Mercury Mosaics

The gleaming edge of what looks like an oversized cookie-cutter plunges into a sheet of clay. Before punching out another tile, a man in a red apron dips the cutter in a bowl of WD-40. This ensures each cut he makes come out as clean as possible. He alternates back and forth between the two … [ Read more]

Craft Culture: Caretakers of skin and pollinators at Worker B

The sound of splintering wood disrupts the rhythmic hum of bees flying midair as Liesa Helfen wedges a flat metal tool in between two boxes. The containers crack apart as she wiggles the steel up and down, loosening the propolis, or bee glue, that seals the two together. For tens of thousands of bees, the … [ Read more]

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Craft Culture: Cabinets full of unexpected surprises at Mark Laub Studios

It takes a series of careful maneuvers to uncover what’s hidden within the cabinet resting near Mark Laub’s front door. First he pulls open a set of connected wooden leaves that surround a stained glass dome. Then, he spins around a glass carousel to reveal a set of arched doors. Finally, he slides out a … [ Read more]

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Craft Culture: 130 years of water and the grindstone at Schech’s Mill

At first the vibrations in the water are faint. Small ripples break through the surface of the stream as they push out from the base of an old stone building. But the current soon becomes a rapid swirl as more than 8,000 gallons flow into the creek with each passing minute. The disturbance outside is … [ Read more]

Craft Culture: Two-wheeled transformations at Peacock Groove

Before Erik Noren started building bikes worth thousands of dollars, he paid someone $40 to steal one for him. He painted the two-wheeler blue, and then dunked his hands in purple paint and splashed it across the frame. At the time he was 18 years old. He only rode occasionally in high school and didn’t … [ Read more]

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Craft Culture: The art of fire, glass, and noble gas at Skyline Neon

There’s a good chance Matt Thompson has worn out the nerve endings on his fingertips. Despite handling molten hot glass nearly every day, he refuses to wear gloves. After decades, his hands are battle worn from blisters, cuts, and third degree burns. Still, that doesn’t stop the neon sign maker from grabbing a glass tube … [ Read more]

Craft Culture: Preserving the magic of motion pictures with Bob DeFlores

When the lights in the room dim and the silver screen lights up, Bob DeFlores doesn’t watch the animated characters that spring to life. As the old film starts to run, he turns his attention toward the hundreds of people sitting in plush theater seats before him. He stares at each face in turn, gauging … [ Read more]