We decided to call our business Woodspirit in the late 90's after nearly 10 years of research and learning about the how's and why's of utilitarian craft. Though not aware if it at the time, through the learning of how to use the natural materials that made up the baskets, spoons, bowls, snowshoes and toboggans we were making, our personal philosophies were being shaped as well. We've come to understand and believe that through the use of these items we can gain an insight into the natural world and the interconnectedness of it all. These items connect us to the past, present and future. The past, our heritage or culture, is steeped with the making and using of handmade utilitarian items. In the present, these items have mostly been replaced by items made of cheap inferior material and poor design which have brought the making of these items to the point of near extinction. The future, our hope, is a movement back into recognition that making and using quality hand made items not only supports local artisans and local economies and carries on an age old tradition, but also gives the user a sense of satisfaction.
We strive to create items that have their place in that future. Be it a basket for the garden or market to the wooden bowl and spoon for your breakfast; these high quality handmade items, based on age old designs that work, can carry us forward.
We live in northern Wisconsin near the shores of Lake Superior. We live in a rural wooded area with our nearest neighbors a mile in each direction. We built and live in a modern house although it's a non-conventional design, a stretched octagon, in which we raise our four children. Besides making and teaching handcraft throughout the year we try to live seasonally. In the fall you can find us gathering and processing wild rice or firewood; in the winter- hunting, fishing and trapping. In the spring we tap the maple trees and make syrup and in the summers we gather birch bark and the other material needed for the items we create. There is never a dull moment around here and we wouldn't have it any other way.
April is a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa/Ojibwe. She began weaving black
ash baskets in 1999 after observing a basket Jarrod had made and was
using daily as a lunch basket on a log building construction site. She
was so impressed with how it held up to the daily abuse that the
material earned her respect and she began weaving utilitarian baskets.
Through the years she searched for other native basket weavers in the
area, which historically had many, but found only a few and many were
not currently weaving. She came to realize she was the only ash basket
weaver making baskets in her band and among just a hand full in all of
the northern Chippewa/Ojibwe in Wisconsin. Starting with the hand
gathered and prepared raw material, April weaves baskets that are meant
for use and takes great pride in her work. Besides teaching from her
studio she teaches ash basketry in her community on the Bad River
reserve and in the neighboring reserves, and at different venues
through out northern Wisconsin and Michigan. April has baskets for sale
at random times as she weaves when she has the time or when the mood feels right. You can see some of her work on the Photo Gallery page or the Items for Sale page.
Jarrod grew up in Ashland, Wisconsin, a small town on the shores of Lake Superior. He is of Scandinavian decent and much of his woodworking is inspired by those woodworking traditions as well as the indigenous woodworking methods of that area. He is fascinated with early methods of working wood, mainly the axe and knife, but also using the techniques used and commonly known before the industrial revolution. Over the years he has concentrated on many things, but currently is focused on wooden bowls which are hand carved or turned on a foot powered lathe, wooden spoons carved with axe and knives, and boxes made from birch bark, bent wood or shrink boxes (a type of box that predates cooperage). He also makes snowshoes and toboggans to order in the winter months as well as birch bark canoes to order in the summer. He teaches many different classes and workshops around the Midwest focusing on the use of hand tools or how to make them. Please look at Workshop and Events page for future class location and schedules. You can see his work on the Items for Sale page as well as the Photo Gallery page.