Penobscot Root Club Carving
Joe Dana/Stan Neptune
Old Town, Maine
Stan Neptune and his son, Joe Dana, are members of the Penobscot Nation and are both traditional root club carvers from Indian Island, Maine. Neptune has been a traditional woodcarver since 1972. He became involved in the movement among native nations to learn more about traditional ways. In the early 1970s, he started to visit Senabeh, the master root club carver at that time. Root club carvings were made by all of the Wabanaki tribes at one time. Over the years, only the Penobscots have continued to carve these root clubs.
The clubs are made using the preferred gray birch and white birch, which have a large root burl that makes for a hefty headknocker, the original purpose of the root club. In peacetime, Penobscot root clubs continue to be used as items for dances and other ceremonies. The different kinds of clubs include spirit, snout and haunting face clubs.
Neptune also received a Letter of Recognition from the Maine House of Representatives and the Senate in 1997, for his work as a master artist in the preservation of the Penobscot Indian practice of carving traditional birch-root clubs. Neptune has also been a teacher and mentor, continuing the root carver tradition. He is proud to see one of his sons creating this traditional art form, knowing that it will continue for another generation.
Rhea Cote Robbins
Rhea Cote Robbins was brought up bilingually in a Franco-American neighborhood in Waterville, Maine, known as “down the Plains.” Her maman came from Wallagrass, in the northern part of the state, and her father was from Waterville. She has been a seamstress and a writer of the stories of the textures and textiles in her life. Many have said that her book, “Wednesday’s Child,” resembles a quilt of stories.
Robbins comes from a long line of women who have plied their needles to clothe their families and to tell their stories in cloth. She started her story process at the age of 16, when she decided to tell the story of her neighborhood, “down the Plains’ through the eyes of her memere, maman and herself. She teaches Franco-American women’s literature at the University of Maine.
A native of Maine, Mildred Crocker learned tatting in school when she was 11 years old and has kept it up ever since. Tatting is a form of lacework similar to crochet. There is at least one difference, according to Crocker, between the two forms. In tatting, one ties knots if one is not able to change threads.
Crocker enjoys her work but feels that it is becoming a lost art. Tatting is indeed challenging. “It’s something that you have to work at,” Crocker said.
Over the past few years, Crocker has taught needle tatting and shuttle tatting, both of which she will demonstrate, accompanied by her daughter, at the National Folk Festival. She and her daughter will offer her tatting creations as well as beadwork and jewelry for sale in the craft marketplace.
M. Joan Davis
Joan Davis was born and grew up in New York state, where she was taught to knit by her baby sitter when she was 5 years old. After 25 years of university teaching, she took early retirement to pursue her lifelong avocation of knitting. Davis has studied with Elizabeth Zimmerman and Alice Starmore among others. Her patterns and kits are available from Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill, while her pattern for The Captain’s Mittens appears in Knitting Now. She also edits Knit ME, a newsletter for Maine knitters. In 1993, she provided the first knitting cruise on the Motor Vessel Pauline. Davis is a charter, lifetime member of the Rochester Knitting Guild, which she founded in 1986, and a member of The Knitting Guild of Greater Buffalo, The Lacy Knitters, and Rockport-Camden-Lincolnville Chamber of Commerce.
Pack baskets and Snowshoes
Bill Mackowski is a wildlife biologist, bush pilot, registered Maine Guide, and lifelong trapper. Over the years, he developed a deep appreciation for the craftsmanship involved in the “tools of his trade” – packbaskets and snowshoes. This appreciation developed into a passion not only for learning to make them himself, but also for collecting and preserving the art. Mackowski’s interest in packbaskets has taken him from the Gasp? Peninsula of Quebec to the Adirondacks in New York, where he was fortunate to study under the most seasoned artisans. He has the most extensive collection of native-crafted snowshoes in the country. He has traveled throughout northern Canada in his pursuit, spending time with respected elders in remote native villages and bush camps, studying the styles and crafting techniques of these snowshoes.
Fly-fishing and Casting
Edward Reif lives and works in Bangor, Maine, where he operates a fly-fishing shop and is a fishing guide for many of the rivers in Maine. Originally from Newark, N.J., Reif has been an avid fly fisherman nearly all of his life. He began tying his own flies in 1952 when he was 12 years old. Reif resides in Bangor, Maine, where he enjoys fishing the Penobscot River.
Kevin Slater and Polly Mahoney
Mahoosuc Guide Service is located in the Bear River Valley, just north of Bethel, Maine. Polly Mahoney and Kevin Slater are professional year-round guides, equally comfortable poling up the Allagash or driving a dog team across the sea ice of Hudson’s Bay. Mahoosuc is a versatile guide service, offering dog sledding and canoeing trips in Maine, New Hampshire and Canada; they offer a wide variety of wilderness activities for all seasons and levels of experience. A unique aspect of Mahoosuc Guide Service is the equipment they use on their guided dog sledding and canoeing trips, such as cedar canvas canoes, ash dog sleds and maple canoe paddles. Their trips are not a test of endurance; rather ample time is available for natural history, exploring and relaxing. Mahoosuc is also committed to working with Native Americans to develop cultural tourism and encourage guiding as a viable career. Mahoosuc Guide Service has been featured in periodicals such as Cross Country Skier, Mushing, Canoe and Kayak, Canadian Geographic, Downeast, and a film for National Geographic Explorer.
Cashmere Hand Spinning
A native of Maine, Hatie Clingerman has been raising cashmere goats and spinning for eight years. She specializes in hand-spun lace-weight yarns, producing both traditional and high-fashion yarn. She has received numerous awards including: 1999 and 2000 Maine Sheep Breeders Association Best in Show for hand-spun yarns and one-of-a-kind knitted garments; 2000 Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival, second place for hand-spun yarn; 2001 Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, first place for hand-spun yarn; River City Yarn’s Knitting, second place for handspun knitted garment. An accomplished and talented hand felter, she has studied with Beth Beede, Andree Lawerance, Beth Shoemaker and Sharon Costello. Hatie’s designs have been featured on the cover of KNIT n STYLE. Her work can be viewed on her Web site, www.coastalcashmere.com and in the gallery at Cityside Yarn Co. in Bangor. Hatie’s work has been available at the Maine Festival, Common Ground Country Fair, Camden Craft Show, and other juried shows.
Rodney C. Richard Sr.
The second of three generations of Acadian-American loggers and woodcarvers, Rodney Richard Sr. was born in Phillips, Maine, in 1929.
He accompanied his father and uncles into the woods, working with a toy bucksaw his father made for him. Like his father before him, Rodney carved his own toys from wood, making guns and more. He grew up watching his father, William, carve and listening to William’s stories of work in the New Brunswick and western Maine logging camps. Rodney continued working with his father around Phillips, bringing the first chain saw to the area in 1948.
In 1973, when Rodney Jr. brought a partially made wooden chain home from his high school industrial arts class, Rodney Sr. began carving once more, making small hand-carved animals and then a set of 10 foot-high old-time woodsmen holding various hand tools. With his chain saw, he has gone on to carve anything his mind can see: rabbits, dogs, woodsmen, fishermen, sea captains, and, especially, Maine black bears as small or as large as the wood at hand. In the last year, he and his son Rodney Jr. have begun making the delicately hand-carved white cedar fan towers of his father.
Rodney Sr. has appeared at many festivals, among them the Smithsonian Institution’s Festival of American Folklife (1976, 1983); the International Festival at Archangel, Russia; the National Folk Festival in Lowell, Mass. (1988, 1989); the Lowell Folk Festival (1992); President Clinton’s inaugural celebration (1993); and numerous times at the Maine Festival. He has received the Marshall Dodge Traditional Artist Award (1987) and the Governor’s Service Award (1997). With his son, he has twice been awarded a Maine Arts Commission’s Traditional Arts Apprenticeship.
Rodney C. Richard Jr.
The youngest in a three-generation family of Acadian American loggers and woodcarvers, Rodney Richard Jr. was born in Rangeley, Maine, in 1955. He grew up around men who constantly worked with wood as carvers and woodcutters: his first woods job at 7 or 8 years old was shoveling snow around the base of spruce and fir before his father cut the trees down with his chain saw.
In 1973, as he was working on his woodcarving merit badge in his father’s Boy Scout troop, his industrial arts teacher started him on wooden chains created with jackknives. Since then, Rodney Jr. has followed in his father’s footsteps by developing his chain saw carving skills; he now makes log-length chains with balls in cages, totem poles, woodland animals, each carving sculpted from one piece of white pine.
Rodney Jr. has appeared at the Smithsonian Institution’s Festival of American Folklife (1976, 1983); the National Folk Festival in Lowell, Mass. (1988, 1989); the Lowell Folk Festival (1992); and numerous times at the Maine Festival.
‘The Woodland Bard’
Maine’s traditional storyteller Gaylon “Jeep” Wilcox, weaves stories and poems together in his own unique style. He tells tales about experiences that are true, some that are not quite true, and some that are not true at all, but most relate to the people and the beauty of the Rangeley Lakes region in the western mountains of Maine. Born and raised in Rangeley, Jeep has spent most of his life in the woods of the region, working as a woodsman, river driver, and more. He started writing story-poems on birch trees when he was 10 and has been sharing his stories with people for over 30 years now. Jeep has appeared at many gatherings, such as the Maine Festival, New Year’s Eve Celebration, Portland, Lowell Folk Festival, Lowell, Mass., Northwest Folklife Festival, Seattle, Wash. (2002) , and at numerous schools in Maine.
He has been featured in documentaries, exhibits and articles, including Peter Mehagen’s “On the Road Again,” PBS Radio-Waterville, Maine, “Gather Round: New England Storytelling,” an exhibit by the Vermont Folklife Center, (2000), and in an article by folklorist Dr. Margaret Yocom: “‘Just call me Sandy, son’: Poet Jeep Wilcox’s tribute to Sandy Ives.” Northeast Folklore: Essays in Honor of Edward D. Ives, ed. Pauleena MacDougall and David Taylor. Orono: University of Maine Press (2000).
Joan Dwyer(with guest Laverne Dickson)
Joan Dwyer first learned rug hooking from her grandmother when she was 7 years old. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Joan began taking formal lessons under accomplished teachers. She later attended rug schools, taking classes on dyeing, hooking different style rugs and design composition. The term “rug hooking” represents the craft which uses strips of fabric (usually wool) and a relatively simple hook. In the past, the fabric was usually old clothing or blankets that was saved and given new life and utility. The fabric was then cut into strips and hooked into a burlap or linen backing. Simple patterns can be drawn or purchased. Joan thoroughly enjoys her work. Particularly, she loves to play in the dyepot, creating new color formulas, over-dyeing garish colors, and antiquing fabrics to give them subtle, aged looks.
In the early 1970s, Darrell Brewer’s grandfather retired and moved back to Maine. While he was building his retirement home, Darrell’s mother moved in with her five children. As a means of earning extra income, Darrell’s grandfather started making snowshoes. He had learned the craft from his father and grandfather and subsequently taught it to his only child and the grandchildren. Darrell has chosen to carry on this family tradition. Darrell handcrafts snowshoes from native wood. Wood is stronger pound for pound than any but the most advanced composite materials and remains the choice for snowshoe bows. From a traditional viewpoint, Darrell says, it would be better to fill the snowshoes with rawhide, but it is just not rugged enough. Modern snowshoe users demand reliability. To alleviate this, Darrell’s grandfather, along with many other craftspeople, adopted the use of nylon fill. Darrell continues this technique. When not making snowshoes or snow shoeing, Darrell also enjoys woodworking, cross-country skiing, canoeing, camping, hiking, photography, sailboarding, fishing, reading and writing.
Bruce Hallett has been around the sea and building model ships for the last 45 years. He learned his craft from his grandfather and great-grandfather on Cape Cod, while his father was away serving in the merchant marine during World War II. Introduced to model building by a great-aunt at the age of 9, he built his first ship in a bottle and then built larger models of the ships his grandfathers made. After making his way up through the ranks from seaman recruit to Coast Guard commander, Bruce has turned this lifelong hobby and passion into a booming retirement business, constructing models of sailing ships. “Maine-built” sailing ships are his specialty, but Bruce can build nearly any ship he can find enough details about. Bruce’s work is unique. He will find old photos of ships and research countless details so that he can build the most accurate model possible. Nearly all of his ship’s components are handcrafted to exact scale.
Wood and Canvas Canoes
The Northwoods Canoe Co.
Rollin Thurlow has spent much of his life either paddling, repairing or building wooden canoes. Introduced to caneoing via the family’s aluminum canoe in the early 1960s, Rollin discovered the excitement of Maine’s lakes and rivers. While guiding Boy Scout trips in the mid-1960s down the Allagash River and other North Woods waterways, he learned the advantages and spirit of wood and canvas canoes. These trips also started his education into the repair and maintenance of these traditional working craft. After graduation from Maine Maritime Academy and a tour of duty in the Navy, Rollin’s formal education in the construction of wooden boats began when he attended the Wooden Boat Construction program in Lubec, Maine. In 1975 he and Jerry Stelmok became partners in the Island Falls Canoe Co., building canoes off the original E.M. White forms, in addition to working on a wide variety of other wooden boat construction and restoration projects.
In 1982, Rollin established the Northwoods Canoe Co. for the purpose of wooden canoe restoration and construction of his own canoe designs. In response to many requests from do-it-yourselfers, he has developed an ever-expanding line of canoe kits, plans, and hard-to-find materials and tools. Regarded as one of Maine’s finest craftspeople, Rollin is in demand as a lecturer and instructor. He has taught various canoe classes at the WoodenBoat School, Brooklin, Maine; Buffalo State College, Buffalo, N.Y.; Maine Maritime Museum, Bath, Maine; Wooden Canoe Heritage Association, Paul Smiths, N.Y.; and at the Wilderness Workshop, Toronto, Ontario.
Ash Grove Spinning and Knitting
Lynn Winters grew up in a family where hands were never idle, learning to make knitted and “fulled” items from handspun yarn from her own small flock of Romney Lincoln sheep. She makes knitted mittens in the tradition of Atlantic Canada. Fulling is a process which brings the fibers tightly together making a very warm fabric. She is a member of the Maine Spinners Registry and Maine Fiberarts.
Rattan Egg Baskets
West Tremont, Maine
Donna Wolf of West Tremont, Maine, began making rattan egg baskets in the fall of 1984 when she took a class in egg basketry from Joli Green in Hulls Cove, Maine. Donna immediately found that she loved the art and has been making rattan egg baskets ever since. Within a year, she started teaching adult education classes at Mount Desert Island High School and in Ellsworth. Donna moved to Bucksport in 1986, where she and her husband built a teaching studio. She has subsequently taught for 16 years in Bucksport and Searsport. Donna makes baskets for personal use and for gifts. Her work is for sale in the Flying Mountain Artisans in Southwest Harbor. Donna says that her greatest joy is seeing a student finish a basket, hold it up, and say, “I made this!” She feels that creating with your hands brings happiness. Time is well-spent making baskets and it provides a person with a great sense of accomplishment. For classes in Seal Cove, call 1-207-244-5667.
Herbal Soaps & Oils
Gail Faith Edwards of Athens, Maine, is a practicing herbalist with 30 years’ experience serving her rural Maine neighbors. She is the mother of four children, a certified organic gardener, and the author of “Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs” and “Traversing the Wild Terrain of Menopause: Herbal Allies for Midlife Men and Women.” Gail and her family run Blessed Maine Herb Farm, offering medicinal herb products of impeccable quality since 1989. The Blessed Maine Herb Farm Web site at www.blessedmaineherbs.com contains information on available herbal products including herb tea blends, tinctures, syrups, infused oils, dream pillows, salves and lip wax, beauty care and sacred herbs, herbs for women and herbs for the immune system. Also available is information about organic herb gardening, herb classes and apprenticeship programs as well as in-depth articles on herbal remedies. Blessed Maine Herb Farm also sponsors Wildgathering 2003, a three-day celebration of the Wild Earth over Memorial Day.
Burl Bowl Making
Dick Stokes of Kingman, Maine, originally began working with wood with his father. Dick uses older chisels to build his versatile and sturdy wood products, using a drill primarily for sanding. He constructs all of these homemade articles in his dooryard and emphasizes that they should be used. His creation of burl bowls and related articles began with camping. A number of years ago, Dick became involved with primitive camping excursions that required reproductions, or original equipment, from the era before 1840. To meet the material needs of these excursions, he began constructing long-handled wooden spoons and forks, cups, candleholders and other articles out of hardwoods. Soon after, he started to construct burl bowls and other larger pieces. Dick says that the burl, or knot that occurs in the wood, provides a natural curve for spoons and forks. As needs have arisen, Dick has provided articles for family and friends. He is always experimenting with the construction of these sturdy, hardwood articles.
Dog Sled Demonstration
Steve Madera of Abbot, Maine, began working in the wilderness education field in 1987. Steve is a certified Wilderness First Responder and a Registered Maine Guide. Much of his time has been with Outward Bound Schools in Maine, Canada, Minnesota and Texas. Steve offers a variety of dog sled adventures through Song in the Woods of Abbot. Steve began Song in the Woods in 1997 as a dog sled company. He especially enjoys having people meet the dogs as they are all well-mannered and people-friendly. Steve has done trips with people from all walks of life, the very young to adventurous seniors, the physically active to the physically challenged. Trips can be full, half-day and multiday back-country trips that feature the option of mushing your own team. Steve feels that there is a real value in sharing the workload of travel with another life form. To find out more about Steve Madera and Song in the Woods, visit his Web site at www.songinthewoods.com.