Ben Hendry is a restoration stonemason with a passion for drystone walling. The combination of manual labour and artistic flair that can be found in drystone walls from thousands of years ago till the present has an appeal that is undeniable to him. Drystone is a representation of the day to day needs of people around the world. It can be seen in pastures, fortresses, religious sites, and city parks. The universality of the craft means that no matter where you go on the planet you will probably have the chance to admire walls, either ancient or modern.
For Ben, drystone represents an ideal in many ways. A good wall is strong, solid and unassuming. But on closer inspection and understanding it contains problems, and solutions, logic and whimsy, history, purpose, and care. Lots of walls are built without this, and some of those are notable and interesting, but when a wall has all of these things it becomes magnetic. People will like looking at it without knowing why. A wall like this can make you smile, take a picture maybe, and then go on with your day feeling better for having seen it.
Božena Hrycyna first learned to embroider at summer camp. Learning to cross stitch at 8 years old she developed a lifelong skill and passion in the needle arts, stitching countless gifts for family and friends over the years. Mentored by her mother, an avid embroiderer, and surrounded by the rich embroidered heritage of her Ukrainian-Canadian community, Božena has absorbed a deep appreciation and love for all things embroidered. She is particularly interested and excited about making traditional garments and ritual cloths (“rushnyky”). In her personal practice she has sought to deepen her knowledge of Ukrainian folk patterns and techniques, and has been fortunate to have received mentorship from master fibre craftsperson & artist Myroslava Boikiv (now in Canada) and continuous inspiration and encouragement from friend and artist Yura Rafaliuk (Ukraine).
She has taught introduction to cross stitch, talisman & ornament making, rushnyk (ritual cloth) making for adults, and embroidery for youth at many summer camps. Božena has also facilitated many weaving, embroidery, and textile related workshops with Myroslava Boikiv through Folk Camp, and continues to work to keep folk crafts alive in Canada through that organisation.
Bozena Hrycyna is director of FOLK CAMP, an organisation connecting people with the folk arts, crafts, music, and land based traditions of Eastern Europe in the Canadian context. As co-founder of the Kosa Kolektiv, Bozena has collaborated with many talented and skilled artists, musicians, and community organisations in Ontario (and across Canada) to promote the richness of Ukrainian and Eastern European cultures, and to facilitate meaningful connections for people (cross-culturally and within their own lineage). Bozena is an amateur singer of traditional village songs, embroiderer, pysanka maker, weaver of threads and grasses, and textile craftsperson… actively learning and sharing these artforms from her Ukrainian/Ruthenian heritage. She has taken workshops and travelled extensively in pursuit of deeper understandings of these and other folkways, and apprenticed to the land, spending the last six years on a homestead near Wilno, Ontario.
An interest in textiles and clothing grew into a fascination with felt and its seemingly magical process when Zoë spent a year cycling New Zealand with her boyfriend (now husband) in 2009. She took a private class with a local felt maker in the small town of Te Aroha. After that, her panniers just kept filling with fibres and whacky felting projects as she discovered this craft while they traveled around, apprenticing (wwoofing) on various farms; from big dairy to small homesteads. Once returning to Canada her apartments were more ‘felting studio’ than living space. Then in 2014 she moved back to her hometown of Perth, ON where she and Ben rented a small house where she was able to open her doors to her first felting students. She spent the next four years teaching, developing her craft, finding her place within diverse fibre arts communities and expanding her backyard veggie gardens.
Growing ever more passionate about growing good food and having the space to raise their own flock of sheep and start a homestead, Zoë and Ben’s dreams were realized when Dawn King (a former midwife, basket weaver and rustic furniture builder) offered them her property in the small community of Brooke Valley, a short distance from Perth. With a new space to create and teach, Zoë and Ben recognized the potential for other learning and hosting opportunities on this property. Zoë has an innate love for old craft, sharing skills, preserving folk arts and striving to live a more resilient and sustainable life. All these passions lead to the birth of the Cordwood Folk School & Homestead. This will be their 5th year homesteading, running the Folk School. They have two children now, a small flock of Icelandic sheep, year-round hens, meat birds during the warm months, two organic vegetable gardens and a dog named Billie.
Chenoa Marshall is a fruit tree grafting enthusiast who first attempted grafting (unsuccessfully) as a teenager. She finally succeeded years later after discovering detailed grafting instructions and stubbornly making repeated attempts, over a few years, analyzing results and researching the topic until her first grafts took. She has been growing her own rootstock and grafting actively for the last 8 years. Due to popular demand, she started putting on workshops in order to help fellow enthusiasts to try their hand at grafting.
Willa Murray has been making things for as long as she can remember. Leather and canvas have continued to be the mediums she uses the most to create items such as fanny pack, belts, chisel rolls, guitar straps and aprons. A graduate of Algonquin College (Heritage Carpentry) in 2008, she has since struck the perfect balance between carpentry and sewing
by splitting her time seasonally.
“My work reflects my desire for high quality, beautiful and functional pieces that can be used every day.” Whether these items are chisel rolls, aprons, guitar straps and belts, they offer an alternative to a cheap culture.
She works with a combination of repurposed, new, local, and hand painted leather.
Willa loves sharing her passion for leatherwork and carpentry through teaching classes and workshops. Look for pamphlets and posts online for new listings. She also loves collaborating with other artists and crafts people, so check the collaborations page on her website and instagram for recent work. This last year she has been collaborating with her chickens and screenprinting chicken footprints on leather and canvas, highlighting the beautiful chaos of farm life.
Willa lives north of Westport, Ontario on a farm with her honey, dog, cat, pigs, chickens and peacocks.
Danielle’s path to tanning was meandering and certainly not the most obvious choice of a then vegetarian, budding biologist. However, upon seeing and treading that path, she was drawn in and continues to go deeper into this old and arguably endangered craft. Over the past 8 years, Danielle has sought out traditional and natural practitioners to apprentice under. Through much experiment, persistence and research, she continues to hone her practice and continues to fall deeper in love with the work.
She finds it an honour to do and share this craft, and has found that it really engages folks, and ignites an old remembering. Based in the lovely woods of Brooke Valley, Danielle wears a few hats but feels truly called to the tending of this ancient craft, as it satisfies many needs. The desire to learn, to share, to participate in something old with one’s hands, to keep something alive and to co-create things of beauty.
The art of brain and smoke tanning is a practice that mostly carried forward on turtle island. Many communities still have very skilled practitioners and Danielle is ever thankful for the chance to share in this craft, as a settler, especially knowing that this craft and its remembering have slipped from some communities.
Meghan Robinson has been a student of herbal medicine for over 20 years. She has learned from a variety of teachers, books and experientially through the maiden and motherhood stages of her life. She considers herself a ‘community herbalist’ and has a passion for wild harvesting and growing. She runs her own small business, Clarendon Herbals – an herb farm and apothecary. Her aim is to reunite people with plants and the age-old relationship between us.
Johnny is a willow grower, basketmaker and hand-craft enthusiast. He can often be found tending willow coppice, gathering sticks, foraging for weaving materials, making baskets, and generally being a keen basketry sponge. Since 2018, he has been exploring this heritage craft and spreading his love for basketry. Starting his own willow coppice in 2022, he is now growing willow for use in his work, and making cuttings available for people who would like to grow their own. Descendant of English and German Mennonite ancestors, he currently resides in Paris, Ontario.
Graham is a visual artist who has been studying blacksmithing and bladesmithing since 2018.
He graduated from OCADU in 2007, and maintained a practice and studio in Toronto for a decade,
branching into illustration. In 2018 he took a one day workshop on axe making and was immediately
taken with the craft. In 2019 he attended the Haliburton School of Art and Design, living in a small cabin
for the winter. His focus on blacksmithing brought together his love for art & design, traditional skills, the
outdoors, science and history. In 2020 he began working as an apprentice to Douglas Morlock,
immeasurably benefiting from his years of experience and expertise. Graham hopes to pass on his love for
this once ubiquitous craft through teaching and demonstrating traditional metal artistry.