Festival Marketplace Participants
Vendors invited to participate in the Great Lakes Folk Festival's "Folk Arts Marketplace" sell authentic traditional arts or related items rarely available in any stores or other festivals. Vendors include past participants in state and regional folklife festivals, apprenticeship and award programs, and other activities of the Smithsonian, Michigan State University Museum, and upper Midwest regional state-funded folk arts programs.
The Folk Arts Marketplace is open Saturday, 12 noon-8 p.m., and Sunday, 12 noon-6 p.m. Some artists will also demonstrate making their hand-made goods in their booths.
Artists and Craftspeople Participating in 2007 (updated 6/13/07)
Decorated Birch Bark Baskets
Marathon County, WI
Christine's great-grandparents are from Canada. Her parents met and married in Menominee, Michigan in the Upper Peninsula. They moved to the Milwaukee area, where Christine grew up. On her mother's side, Christine's family includes Ojibwes from Blind River near Manitoulin Island. Christine says she is "mostly French," even though her name is Swedish. "Basically, I'm a Canuck."
As Christine grew up in Glendale (a town close to Milwaukee), she always was interested in her Canadian Ojibweheritage. She took classes in Native American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee so she could learn more.
Christine also took a summer seminar in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. One of Christine's instructors was Debbie Hatch. Debbie is an Ojibwe woman from Sault St. Marie whose forebears were from Manitoulin Island, like Christine's mom's family. Debbie taught her how to make porcupine quill baskets. Christine had done a lot of embroidery previously using Native motifs, so she learned quickly. "Quillwork is like embroidery," Christine says. "Each quill is like one stitch." Christine has devoted a lot of time to making baskets ever since.
Christine is considered a master at her craft. Since 1988, she has received seven grants from the Wisconsin Arts Board to teach apprentices how to make birch bark baskets with quill designs. This photo shows Christine at a Green Bay workshop, teaching teachers her craft. Her baskets show years of highly developed artistic skill.
Elderly Instruments (Lansing, Michigan)
Elderly Instruments first opened for business in 1972 in a basement location on Grand River Avenue in East Lansing and moved in 1983 to their current location at 1100 N. Washington in Lansing. Elderly features vintage and new instruments, such as button accordions, fiddles, dulcimers, harmonicas, and bodhrans, and specializes in fretted instruments, such as guitars and banjos. With their extensive inventory of instructional books and hard-to-find CD's and cassettes, sold both at their Lansing store and through widely distributed mail-order catalogs, Elderly Instruments has established itself as an important local business with a national reputation.
Ia Her (Lansing, Michigan)
Ia Teng Yang (Warren, Michigan)
Like their relatives in their homeland of Laos and in communities scattered throughout the world, Hmong-Americans begin to learn how to make paj ntaub (flower cloth) at a very young age. A variety of patterns, motifs, and needlework techniques, including appliqué, reverse appliqué, and embroidery, are used in creating the colorful textiles. Mastery of the techniques and expansion of the repertoire of designs and motifs usually takes years, and expert craftsmanship is valued within the community.
While certain types of paj ntaub are still made for traditional uses such as baby carriers, baby hats, funeral collars, and wedding apparel, most paj ntaub made in the United States today are sold to non-Hmong. Bedspreads, purses, eyeglass cases, pillow covers, wall hangings, and articles of decorated clothing are among the items now produced.
Krystyna Rosas (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
Krystyna Rosas' parents were born and raised in Poland, but Krystyna was born in England and immigrated to the United States with her family when she was 5. Her father was a potter, woodcarver, painter, and sculptor. Their home was decorated with many beautiful Polish objects: pottery, amber, weavings, carvings, and, of course, wycinanki (paper cuttings). Krystyna's father taught her how to duplicate and design wycinanki when she was a child; at an early age she recognized that these pieces were a special part of the way she thought of herself and her heritage.
Wycinanki originally decorated walls, ceilings, beams, and furniture in rural homes. The brilliant colors, traditional themes, and beautiful designs of the paper cuttings symbolize Polish folk art, and today, different regions of Poland produce distinct styles of wycinanki.
Roman Seniuk (Detroit, Michigan)
Roman Seniuk's earliest memory of pysanka is seeing intricately decorated eggs in church on Easter Sunday; he considered them the most beautiful things he had ever seen. Under his mother's tutelage, he learned how to make pysanka using various kinds of eggs, bee's wax, a kistka stylus, a candle, and dyes.
The word pysanka stems from the word pysaty, "to write," because the designs are drawn upon the eggs in a prescribed and meaningful manner. Pysanky symbols include geometric motifs, the sun, the cross, the triangle, endless lines, the tree of life, the church, and fish (symbolizing Christianity). The colors of the dyes are also symbolic. The tradition of pysanky precedes Christianity and reflects ancient myths in which the egg symbolizes life, the sun, and the universe. The eggs have been used as talismans to protect against evil, and they serve a variety of social and religious occasions.
Julie Sullivan (Eaton Rapids, Michigan)
Braided rugs are an old American folk art. Made of readily available and often recycled materials, they are both practical and decorative. Because wool is durable and stain resistant and the color variations in the braids hide spills, braided rugs of wool are especially practical and desirable.
Hand-braided rugs are a family tradition for Julie Sullivan, who learned to braid from her grandmother. In 2000 and 2001 Julie was awarded a Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship award to teach her daughters. Using pure wool, needles, and a tool for sewing called a bodkin, they braid strips, lace the braids together, and connect the braid ends to each other, creating a seamless effect. They use the rugs in their own households and as gifts for others.
Anshu Varma (Okemos, Michigan)
Meh'ndi (Henna painting) artist
Anshu Varma was born in 1962 in north India and grew up in Calcutta and New Delhi. As a child she was fascinated by the tradition of meh'ndi, a paste of henna used to embellish the palms, soles, and fingernails. Greatly inspired by her mother's artistic creations, Anshu began to learn at home this art that plays an important role in maintaining cultural identity in India as well as in other communities.
Meh'ndi is appropriate at all festive events. It is the first thing a woman puts on herself to get ready for a special occasion. Being dressed in meh'ndi sets the celebratory mood of the community. The tradition is associated especially with wedding ceremonies where in certain communities putting meh’ndi on the bride's palms and feet represents "dressing" the bride.
Today Anshu, who has a degree in economics and works for the State of Michigan, is a master of the art. She is sought by many in the Indian community to do meh'ndi for them, and many a bride has been adorned by her skillful hands. She was a recipient of the Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program in 2002 and 2003, and is a regular participant at the Great Lakes Folk Festival.
Lula Williams (Detroit, Michigan)
As a young child, Lula Williams occasionally helped her mother quilt by putting colors together and piecing. However, she only returned to quilting in the late 1970s when her young teenaged son encouraged her to take a course in it at his high school; she remembered her mother's techniques almost immediately and has been quilting ever since.
Lula has made more than 120 quilts and won numerous awards. Her work reflects many traditions . She is a needle worker keenly interested in the latest techniques and patterns; she is an African-American committed to conveying information about her heritage; she is a woman of faith who communicates her beliefs through her quilts; she is an individual proud to be an American. One series of her quilts using African cloth pays homage to Martin Luther King, Jr. Another series is of red, white, and blue fabric with designs of stars and stripes. A special quilt, her original "I Am" design, depicts the times Jesus utters "I am" in the Bible as well as the declarations of "I am" by African-American preachers in their sermons. She is perhaps best known for her baby quilts, of which she has made scores as gifts for family and friends.
Lula's excellent craftsmanship has won her invitations to participate in shows within the African-American community and beyond. In addition she has taught quilting for a number of years at the Evans Recreation Center on Detroit's northeast side, at the Michigan State Fair Senior Center, and at Detroit's Westside Tindal Recreation Center and readily assists those who seek her help. She has been recognized with awards of Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grants to teach her skills to other aspiring quilters in her community. In 1997 she was honored with a Michigan Heritage Award.
Eugenia Worobkevich (Warren, Mich.)
Ukrainian Embroidery and Gerdans
Traditional embroidery plays an important part in public events, celebrations, and special occasions of Ukrainian-American communities. For festive events, women may wear embroidered blouses and men wear embroidered ties. Embroidery appears on pillows, table linens, cloths placed near household religious icons, and in Easter baskets.
Eugenia M. Worobkevich is a master artist of Ukrainian embroidery. She became a citizen of the United States in 1955 after emigrating from Lviv, Ukraine. In 1973 her favorite aunt sparked Eugenia's desire to learn traditional embroidery. In 1985, she met Oksana Tkachuck, a master designer in Ukrainian nyzynka technique, and became her apprentice. In 1988 Eugenia also learned to make gerdan collars, because they share similar elements of color, texture, and form with traditional embroider. In 1996, Eugenia was granted a Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship award to teach traditional embroidery to other Ukrainian women.
Ecuador textiles and jewelry
Ecuador flute making
Lilyana Cabascango hails from Olavalo, Ecuador, a small town located hours north of Quito, the Latin American nation's capitol. As Lilyana says, "There I have learned everything I know from my parents and my parents from theirs." One of the things she learned and became a specialist in was making textile items from the wool of the sheep her family kept. "When the sheep are big enough, we sheave them, take the wool to the river and wash it. After two days of washing it, we let it dry. Then we boil the wool with plants to color it. Then they knit and weave the wool into colorful sweaters, ponchos, scarves, hats, and bags. This is all family work that takes us about 3-4 days work just to make one sweater."
Now Lilyana lives in Chicago but she continues her traditional textile work with wool that her family sends to her from their sheep in Ecuador. When they do not send her enough wool she supplements it with wool she gets from Amish farmers in Shipshewana, Indiana.
In Ecuador, making musical instruments out of bamboo is an art done primarily by men. Chicago resident Rolando Cabascango is a native of Ecuador who hails from a family of instrument makers, dancers, and musicians. Even though he now lives far from his birthplace, he continues to make flutes as well as jewelry out of bamboo that his family sends north to him.
"When I was eight years old, I started to learn to carve in wood by helping my father who did woodcarving for pleasure," says Benin native Pierre Adjibogoun. He has been carving ever since and his sculptural creations reflect the history and culture of West Africa, but particularly that of his home country of Benin. His work displays the styles that have become traditional for sale to the tourist market and are sought after for use in Afro-centric interior decoration here in the United States.
"I carve with many woods, but prefer to carve ebony wood because it is considered black gold in Africa. I carve big and small statues of animals and people, doors, wooden trunks, and, from one piece of wood, chairs." He also sometimes uses animal bone and horns for his carving materials. For many years he operated a gallery in Cotonou, Benin where he showed and sold his artwork as well as taught others. In Lansing he has opening Dancing Crane Gallery.
Pierre is fluent in his native languages of Benin and French, the language of the colonial government of Benin, as well as several other African languages he learned while traveling in Africa. In 2001, he came to Lansing, Michigan and is now learning yet another language-English.
Woodlands Tradition Art
Sault Ste. Marie, MI
Ron Paquin is a proud member of the Sault Ste. Marie tribe of Chippewa Indians. He is known as a preserver of traditional skills and teaches others of his tribe about their heritage. Among his many traditional skills is making birch bark canoes for which he received a Michigan Heritage Award in 2003 and several Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeships subsequently. Canoes have great historical and cultural import, and when Ron realized that the masters of this craft were dieing, he learned carpentry skills and talked with elders to learn as much as they could teach him. Ron is also a master at making black ash baskets and birch bark containers, skills he learned from elders.
Duck Decoy Carvings
Born 1932 near Elk Rapids, Forrest "Jim" Wicks grew up along the Grand
Traverse Bay, where he was first introduced to duck hunting. He started
carving working decoys when he and his hunting friends became tired of the
look of the standard decoy, typically rendered with the bird's head pointing
straight ahead. According to Jim, "My first decoys were rough, but good
enough to be added to the decoys that my father and I used on Grand Traverse
Bay back in the 1940s. Since fashioning those first crude works of art, my
interest in decoy carving has expanded greatly. I've carved maybe a thousand
of them." 1 His love of carving is tireless. Jim says, "I hope to die with
the chips in my pocket and the knife in my hand."
In 1967 he sent his working decoy to the Midwest Decoy Contest, sponsored by the Michigan Waterfowl Decoy Association and held annually at Pointe
Mouillee near Monroe, Michigan. After years of winning awards for his
working decoys at the contest, he ceased competing and switched to creating
half-life-size birds for ornamental purposes because "the public likes
them." He sells about 50 a year. For many years he served as the registrar
for the decoy contest, checking in entries and meeting long-time friends and
nationally-known carvers. In 1988 Jim Wicks was presented with a Michigan Heritage Award in recognition of his duck decoy carving and his role in the perpetuation of carving hunting decoys.
Dave Kober, carved wooden ice fishing decoys
1990 awardee, Bear Lake (Manistee County), ice-fishing decoy carver
Ice fishing is a well-established activity in Michigan. Dave Kober represents one of four generations of his family's passion for fishing and for making distinctive ice-fishing decoys. Born in 1938, Dave was introduced to ice fishing by his grandfather, Lester Ballard, and by his uncle, Myron Ballard. His memories of his grandfather and ice fishing are strong: "Whenever I pick up a piece of wood or set out across a frozen lake, I can't help but remember him." (1) "Uncle Mike" nurtured Dave's carving by giving him his first equipment; Dave was nine years old when he made his first decoy. Both men were instrumental not only in showing him the finer points of fishing and carving but in passing along many family fishing stories.
Ice-fishing decoys vary dramatically in appearance, use of materials, and theory. Dave has developed a visual style that utilizes the natural grain of the wood to replicate the look of the fish. He applies acrylic paint over the grain of the wood and then sands and waxes the decoys, which allows the wood grain to show through the paint. In addition to this painting technique, Dave developed a tradition of creating decoys that position the carved fins so the decoy "stands" on these fins when out of the water. Whereas most carvers choose not to place the fins below the fish in the natural position, Dave insists on this practice.
Dave took an early retirement as a construction foreman to do what he likes best: make decoys. Working out of a studio next to his house located at Bear Lake, Dave's decoy making has become a full-time business known as The Wooden Fish. He makes 45 species of inland fish, carving a total of about 250 a year. Dave now sells his decoys at wildlife art shows around the country and was even twice featured on the HGTV network. His decoys can be found in numerous public and private collections around the world.
Like his grandfather and uncle, Dave also loves to share his carvings and his stories with others. He takes special pride in the fact that his son, Travis, also makes fish decoys and ice-fishing jig-sticks.