Staff & Instructor Bios

About Our Staff and Instructors

All Living Arts School Staff and Instructors are either master craftspeople, or those aspiring to become masters of their craft. Their knowledge and passion is extensive, and they have been selected to teach at the folk school because of their love for life, as well as their desire to share their skills and excitement with others.

If you would like to apply to be an Instructor, please visit our Become an Instructor page. For longer-term Staff opportunities, please visit our Employment page.

Amy Fontenot, Bee Guardianship

Amy FontenotAmy Fontenot is a children’s librarian who loves bees even more than she loves books. Since she was a tiny kid she has been weirdly drawn to bees… well to all insects, but bees in particular. She told her perplexed parents she wanted to be a beekeeper before she really realized what that meant (they had no idea where she had even heard that word!). She spent her twenties being a nomad, but everywhere she went she sought out the local beekeepers and tried to learn as much as she could from them. It wasn’t until Amy was in her mid 30s that she found her true teachers and realized she did not want to be a beekeeper. What she wanted to be was a bee guardian. When she’s not being a librarian, she is trying to nurture her yard into a honeybee haven, learning to grow food, walking her blind dog, doing bee puppet shows for kindergarten classrooms, and peering into her hive, telling the bees that times are changing, we humans are waking up . . .



Ann Harding, Storytelling & Folk Dance

photo (19) Ann Harding’s storytelling began with hearing and telling stories as a child. Her love of stories flourished during her time as a preschool/kindergarten teacher. She followed her passion for storytelling during her senior year of college at Naropa University and wrote her final thesis on storytelling and how it supports secure psychological attachment between children and caregivers. In October of 2012 she traveled to Ireland and studied with Liz Weir, an international storyteller. She is also a musician and weaves story and song together to create unique and entertaining storytelling events and workshops for all ages.

Visit Ann’s website



 Antonio Laudisio, Wood-Fired Cooking

AntonioAntonio grew up in the Italian restaurant business in Miami, Florida and has always been interested in the history of culinary development in different parts of the world.  He has lived in Italy and Spain and traveled throughout Europe … tasting food and learning from other chefs and local farmers.  He owned and operated the Laudisio Restaurant in Boulder for over 25 years and started the Mediterranean Restaurant with the Romano family 21 years ago.  He has been teaching young chefs for many years in his own restaurants and more recently has been teaching (and storytelling!), through the  Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, at the 63rd Street Farm in Boulder.  One of Antonio’s star students is his grandson, Nio, who started making his own pizzas at age 4 and now, at age 7, enjoys helping out at the summer Farmers Market.



Avery Ellis, Aquaponics & Greywater

Avery EllisAvery Ellis is an Ecological Systems Designer.  He holds a Masters of Ecological Design and a BS in Biology. He first explored these concepts during a semester abroad in India, where he studied permaculture, renewable energy, waste water treatment, and natural building methods.  Upon completion of his Bachelors degree, he gained personal experience on an organic farm, spent a year as a solar installation specialist, and was a supervisor for a recycling company intent on net zero waste.  He continues to study permaculture design in Colorado and is one of the only certified greywater installers in the state.  With his growing businesses, he hopes to bring awareness to technologies that can bring humanity into a new age of local food production and regenerative infrastructure.  His teaching skills bring his knowledge and passion together for exciting lectures, discussions, and hands-on building.  With these skills adding up to a cumulative understanding of ecological living, he invites each new project as a design challenge, seeking the sustainable solution for humanity.

Visit Avery’s website

 Brigitte Mars, Herbal Medicine

BMARS688 copyBrigitte Mars is a medical herbalist and nutritional consultant who has been working with Natural Medicine for over forty years.  She has taught Herbal Medicine at Naropa University, Omega Institute, Esalen, Kripalu, The Mayo Clinic, Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition, The School of Natural Medicine and Just for Health.  She blogs for the Huffington Post and Care2.  She is also a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild.

Brigitte is the author of many books and DVDs, including The Country Almanac of Home Remedies, The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine, Beauty by Nature, Addiction Free Naturally, The Sexual Herbal, Healing Herbal Teas, and Rawsome!. Her latest project is a phone app called IPlant.

Vist Brigitte’s website


Carolyn Nicely, Administrative Assistant

Carolyn NicelyCarolyn Nicely recently moved to Boulder with her partner Daniel Hunter and their dog Dixie. She is excited to be a part of the Living Arts School and to surround herself with art and music in the mountains! Carolyn graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in musical theatre and is now pursuing a career as a singer-songwriter in the indie/folk scene. She has toured the US, The Virgin Islands, and China as a vocalist and writer, and is co-founder of the travel/song blog “” inspiring people to follow their dreams. After many months of touring the major arenas of the midwest as a musician for “The Gala of the Royal Horses” Carolyn is ready for home sweet home here in Colorado.

Catherine Lassen, Lacto-Fermentation

Catherine LassenCatherine Lassen has always been interested in doing things from scratch, even living without electricity for certain segments of her life. She has a tried and true appreciation for the old-fashioned way of doing things, and isn’t afraid of a little purple sauerkraut juice seeping out of it’s fermentation jar. Her classes on lacto-fermentation offer a small window into her kind and compassionate approach to life, which she has shared with many on her journey as a celebrated teacher. A mother of 6, grandmother of 7, a yoga instructor, and a former homebirth midwife; she loves earthy pursuits: gardening, cooking, preserving. When she’s not puttering in the kitchen, she’s out bike-riding or ballroom dancing.




Chris Kermiet, Dance Caller

chrispromosmallChris Kermiet is one of the finest old-time square dance callers in the United States and has been featured at numerous festivals, workshops, and dance events across the country. He has been calling and teaching traditional American squares and contras now for over 35 years.  During the past 15 years, he has also created choreographies for a number of performing groups and theater companies. In October, 2009, he was celebrated as a “Living Legend of Dance in Colorado” by the Carson-Brierly Dance Library at the University of Denver.

Visit Chris’ website

Christine Bayles Kortsch, Succulent Design & Creative/Reflective Writing

photo credit: Kate Rentz

photo credit: Kate Rentz

Christine Bayles Kortsch, Ph.D. is a homebody with a gypsy soul. She is the author of Dress Culture in Late Victorian Women’s Fiction, as well as essays on backyard chickens and wilderness camping. You may have read her essay on backyard chickens in 5280 Magazine last summer! Christine teaches literature and writing at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design and the University of Baltimore. She is a gentle and enthusiastic teacher with a deep passion for gathering people together and inspiring them to chase the beauty and goodness in their everyday lives.

Visit Christine’s website





Claudia Lewis, Fiber Surface Design & Ceramics

Claudia LewisClaudia Lewis holds a Master’s Degree in Art from the University of Northern Colorado. She has been a fine artist, a teacher, and a graphic designer all of her adult life.  Her work includes surface design, such as Shibori and Silk Painting, as well as Pottery.  Claudia loves to travel and take photos with her husband, Mike and go for long walks with her Australian Cattle Dog, Jenny.

Visit Claudia’s website


Dana Cowley, Leatherwork & Bookbinding

Dana_CowleyInstructor Dana Cowley received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Printmaking at Plattsburgh State University of NY in 2008. She has since furthered her education and work experience at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester NY and at Arrowmont School of Arts and Craft in TN.  She began bookbinding and leather working in 2008 after taking a class with Daniel Essig and later, Dolph Smith.  Dana has experienced and practiced many different crafts, including basket weaving, rag weaving, bookbinding, painting, drawing, clay, and gardening.

Visit Dana’s Website

Danielle Martin, Ayurvedic Medicine

Danielle MartinDanielle Martin is a student of both Ayurveda and Eastern Herbalism.  She owns her own Ayurvedic apothecary line and clinic, right here in Boulder, CO.  

Visit Danielle’s website






David Johnson, Weaving and Dyeing

RSCN0213_01As a studio artist and teacher, David has focused his energy towards fiber and textile. His specialty is in tapestry weaving and includes both pictorial and pattern work while dyeing all his own colors. He has an extensive teaching background including positions on the faculty at the Oregon School of Arts and Crafts and the Appalachian Center for Craft in Tennessee. David is currently program coordinator for the Rocky Mountain Weavers Guild and a member of the Handweavers Guild of Boulder.





Deb Schaffer, Ink-Making

DebSchafferPartyDeb Schaffer is an artist, farmer, and English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) teacher. Her love of art brought her to a textile exhibit of “Black Tent” tribal weavings by the Baluch and Aimaq peoples (and related tribes) of Central Asia in Athens, GA in 2006 where she was introduced to the natural dyes used in textiles from east Asia.  This spurred her interest in natural inks and dyes, and she began experimenting with the materials from the exhibit. As the creator of an annual valentine (circulation approx. 150 annually) she is interested in making homemade inks with love for the letter writing tradition. She adores rock climbing, homemade kimchi, signing hymns, and identifying plants on walks in Colorado.




Doug Beall, Natural Building, Straw Bale & Simple Shelter Design

Doug BeallDoug Beall is an architect and contractor with many years of experience creating buildings of all types.  He holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Idaho and a Master of Architecture degree from the University of California, Berkeley.  He has taught architectural design studios at the University of Colorado as well as natural building workshops along the Front Range.  He is the founder and owner of ECOShelter Design + Build, a natural building company based in Erie.  Doug is profoundly influenced by, and reasonably proficient at, playing in the mud; a pastime he is most willing to share…

Visit Doug’s website 



 Elizabeth Uhrich, Director

Elizabeth Nova ScotiaElizabeth Uhrich became interested in starting a folk school in Boulder County right around the time she realized that she would like to become a “student of her hands”.  When researching where she might be able to acquire the skills she needed to raise bees and chickens, can her own jelly and build a compost pile, she discovered that, in Boulder County, educational opportunities on these topics were few and far between.  She knew that there were others like her, interested in a complete “folk” education,–and so the Living Arts School was born.

Elizabeth’s background is in education, and her journey includes co-founding and directing a progressive school for young children, teaching for 10 years and speaking at conferences on the topic of education.  For her, the folk school is a natural outbirth of her passion for education.  After all, “The hands built the head, not the other way around.” (Aonghus Gordan, Ruskin Mill Trust).  She holds a BA in Philosophy from Colorado College and an MA in Educational Psychology from CU Denver.  She also currently holds a Director’s Certification from the CDHS and a Colorado Teacher License.  She lives with her husband James and their small dog in Erie, and loves to be outdoors or playing music, whenever she can.

Erik Stevenson, Blacksmithing & Cold Metalsmithing

Erik StevensonErik Stevenson spent much of his youth dabbling with DIY back yard blacksmithing and hobby fabrication projects, as well as assisting his father with extensive household remodeling projects. After 6 years of Waldorf education he began his 4 year weekend apprenticeship during high school with a theatrical reproduction sword cutler named Dennis Graves in 1992. In 1996 he followed in his father’s footsteps with a 4 year peacetime tour in the USMC where he further developed his tool making and construction skills in the areas of contemporary survival, improvised security, fortification, and building improvised field radio antennae. After returning home, he got his BA in philosophy with a minor in Jewelry at Metro State while running Phoenix Metal Creations, his own reproduction sword making business from 2000 to 2004. In addition to DIY tool making and prototyping, Erik has worked in the gaming industry as a 3D modeler and animator. Currently he is making a line of Steel Tongue Drums while prototyping other product lines and sharing his diverse experience with others in hopes of empowering people to create their own tools/art/DIY projects for the inspired lives they want to live.

Visit Erik’s website


Greg Cope, Musical Instrument Design & Construction

Greg Cope

Greg Cope, Ph.D., is an educator, who has been inventing and building musical instruments since 1964. He believes playing music enriches one life profoundly. He has designed instruments for non-musicians and other instruments that offer unique learning opportunities.

He develops quality plucked, bowed and percussion instruments most people will be able to play quickly and easily others. (In our society 85-90% play no musical instrument.) He believes the joy of music is fulfilling and rich thru experience in music & relationships.





Hannah Upham, Horticulture, Bodycare & Crafts

hannah5 crop (1)Hannah Upham MA, LPC, ATR, HTR is a licensed professional counselor, art therapist and horticultural therapist living in Lafayette. She teaches at Naropa University in the Wilderness Therapy program. Her new business, Phytology, is a product line which incorporates her love of horticulture with sustainable natural living.

Hannah hails from Maine where folk arts are just a way of life.  She grew up next to an apple orchard and her family owned a small wood stove and ski shop.  Her passion for hands-on experiential education and living comes from her up-bringing gardening, skiing, shooting, ceramics, building barns, making music, knitting,  sewing, canning, and cooking.  Why sit around when you can create something or make something grow?!

Visit Hannah’s website 

Visit Hannah’s Etsy site

Jake Takiff, Hide Tanning & Farming

Jake Takiff

Jake Takiff has spent the past ten years developing his skills as a modern day farmer, hunter, butcher and community builder. He currently runs Eagle Canyon Farm, which produces raw milk from a small herd of jersey cows, and meat from grazing heritage hogs. An essential part of his practice as a farmer and hunter is giving thanks for the life that is being grown and taken. He is among the few practitioners of the old art-form of traditional hide tanning. Jake is committed to building healthy soil, happy animals and a thriving community. He may be found early most mornings frolicking with his cows.





James Uhrich, Woodworking & Metalworking

DSCF0512The everyday commonalities of James Uhrich’s childhood are very uncommon to most folks.  He spent most of his cherished time playing around the machine shop and foundry his dad and grandpa operated in rural Colorado.  Although metal work was (and is) the focus of the family business, James took to woodworking as his natural interest and hobby.  Through time, his passion for wood eventually led to making hand tools for working it, and with that, a renewed interest in advancing all of the metalworking skills taught to him.  Some say James is obsessed with his projects in wood and metal, but James says it’s just what he does.  He is married to Elizabeth, the founder and director of Living Art School.  James is the owner and operator of Sturnella Toolworks, where he designs and builds beautiful and functional hand tools for working wood.

Visit James’ website


John Martin, ViticultureDSC_4835_2

John Martin is co-owner of Stonebridge Farm, the first CSA in Boulder County. He grew up in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, where he helped establish some of the area’s earliest vineyards. In 2002, he planted cold-hardy wine grapes at his Front Range farm and will soon open the Stonebridge Winery. For more on John’s viticulture work:

Visit John’s website



Julie Niall, Director Support Liaison

Julie Niall

Julie Niall is a former educator and most recently a stay-at-home mom enjoying gardening, cooking, storytelling, and arts & crafts with her children.  She has a degree in education & religion and a certificate from Arscura Living Art School in Toronto, Canada.  Her background includes a stint as a principal of a progressive school in Ontario, as well as a classroom teacher.  She is interested in exploring educational methods that strengthen the spirit and enhance creative expression while also connecting people face-to-face in meaningful, joyful experiences.  She thinks The Living Arts School is onto something…

Kathy Lee, Canning

20130508_105654Kathy Lee is the owner and creator of Modern Gingham Preserves, a preserve company based inDenver, CO that preserves Colorado grown fruit and veggies.  The preserves are sold at various stores, served in various restaurants, and sold online. She originally thought she’d become a Nobel winning scientist after receiving her Ph.D. from Northwestern University.  A chance meeting with a British guy, and their subsequent marriage introduced her to her parents-in-law: lovely people who “put up” food and preserved their fruits and vegetables.  After trying her luck at jarring, Kathy became obsessed.  Eventually her pantry got too full and she began giving her jarred fruits away.

Visit Kathy’s website 

Kent Young, Spoon Carving

Kent YoungKent Young is a wood carver, but more specifically a spoon carver. He’s been doing this old and mostly forgotten craft for the last 35 years! An artist living in a remote part of New Hampshire taught him the craft of spoonmaking, and he’s never stopped. Spoons are old tools, predating forks by thousands of years. Kent feels that spoon carving is physical and mental, and the required focus has a Zen like quality to it. Using only hand tools he can carve anywhere… Kent is the owner and operator of Young Spoons, where spoons are functional art and made to be used everyday. A good wooden spoon is essential to a well equipped kitchen, and to this end, his favorite wood to carve is cherry. It holds up well to kitchen use, wears well, and turns an aged brown like a good leather.  Kent’s spoons are a joy to reach for in your kitchen.

Visit Kent’s Pinterest page


Kristen Demaree, Fiddle & Folk Dance

Kristen DemareeKristen Demaree grew up in Boulder, Colorado. She began dancing at the age of three with her mother, Barbara Demaree who owned and operated Ballet Arts Boulder. She began playing the violin at age 9, and started playing traditional Scandinavian folk music with the Boulder Spelmanslag were she still continues to play and teach traditional folk music. She has attended workshops in Sweden and in the United States in both folk music and dance. She recently earned her MFA in dance at the University of Colorado where she combined her love for music and dance. She teaches dance at Boulder Ballet and at Longmont Dance Theatre and owns and directs her own dance company “Delusions of Grandeur Productions”. She enjoys gardening and playing many styles of folk music with her partner Seth Premo who is a versatile musician.


Lillian Craze, Lead Homeschool Program Teacher

Lillian CrazeLillian Craze has worked with children in teaching, caregiving and coaching roles. She is a connector and developer who enjoys helping kids learn more about themselves, supporting them as they try new things, and encouraging lifelong lessons around themes such as simplicity, strength, creativity and community. Lillian has an MS in Journalism from Northwestern University and a lifelong appreciation of traditional living skills, folk arts, crafts and music. She’s from the city (Denver) and has farm roots (Kansas and Nebraska), as the granddaughter of a farmer and great granddaughter of Czech immigrant homesteaders. She enjoys creating with her hands, folk dancing and barn dances, and is grateful for a brother who plays the accordion and a great aunt who spryly danced the polka on her 105th birthday. Lillian lives in Louisville with her husband, daughter and son.

Linda Mezger, Hand Quilting

Linda Mezger grew up sewing clothing for herself, enjoying having clothes that fit her six-foot-tall frame!  She took a Boulder Free School class in quilting in 1980, fell in love with it, and has been quilting ever since.  She learned hand quilting techniques in that class and continues to hand piece and quilt to this day, even though her repertoire has expanded to machine piecing and quilting.  Since she retired as a contract technical writer/editor, she has been active in the Quaking Aspen Quilt Guild, a Boulder-based guild of area quilters, serving as President during 2010-2012.  She has taught several classes in quilting for other guild members.

Logan Gingerich, Cheese-Making

Logan PicLogan Gingerich grew up a cheese lover in rural Ohio, where most cheese production is done by the local Amish population. He began to experiment with cheese making in 2010, and became hooked on the fascinating, and delicious craft. Although he graduated college with a degree in Sociology and began work in a computer-centric field, he soon found that he longed for a life connected to food, and attended the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Boulder. He currently works as a cheesemonger at Cured in Boulder, and enjoys reading, running, and days off with his wife and two cats, Patchy and Paprika.





Mara & Willow King, Fermentation

Originally from Hong Kong, Mara King was born in to family with a generous and joyful approach to food.  Her Grandfather’s Noodle factory, founded in 1941 is still operating today.  She worked as a professional chef for 20 years in the challenging and detailed worlds of Sushi and Italian Fine Dining.  She brings an insatiable curiosity to the table and is committed to sharing her excitement for food with as many people as she can. Her latest venture, Ozuké, a cultured foods company, marries her love of science, experimentation, flavor and the power of the invisible.

Willow King is a Boulder native but has spent many year circling the globe gathering stories, recipes and folk wisdom. She has worn many hats over the years: marketing, editorial work, corporate fundraising, NGO work in microfinance, and teaching.. yes, she is an Aquarius. At Ozuké she keeps track all of the moving parts but still likes to find time to mess around in the kitchen and make good things to eat.  You can find Mara and Willow most days at their fermented foods factory out in Lafayette, CO.

Visit Mara & Willow’s website

Marie Nicoletti, French Cooking

50b-day2Marie Nicoletti is the founder of The Language of Food, created in 2000, a culinary and cultural program that teaches children and adults traditional and regional French cooking classes and French language.  She holds a BA in “Applied Foreign Languages for International Business” (in English and Italian) and a Fashion School diploma in Pattern making and Clothes construction. She worked for designers like Yohji Yamamoto, Martin Sitbon, Plein Sud, and Nina Ricci, before moving to Boulder in 1990. She also studied cooking from the age of 8 years old, in an after-school program, and since then she has never stopped nourishing this passion. Marie’s goal is to pass down to new generations everything she’s learned since she was little–when arts and crafts, cooking, and music naturally held a big part on the map of education.

Visit Marie’s website


Michael Heim, Mushroom Identification/Foraging

PuffBallMichael is a long-time member of the Colorado Mycological Society & serves as the editor of Spores Afield, their monthly newsletter. He has lead forays for theDenver Botanic Gardens, the Center for Integrative Botanical Studies, & the Boulder Living Arts School. He was even so fortunate to take a group of chefs from all over the United States on a culinary foray on behalf of the 2014 annual Chef’s Collaborative Summit. That same year he was invited to present at the annual Bioneers Conference at CU Boulder exploring the exciting topic of myco-remediation & what possibilities mycelium has to offer for building soil integrity & it’s overall importance to successful ecosystems. In 2014 he produced and facilitated a 2-day medicinal mushroom workshop with Robert Rogers, author of The Fungal Pharmacy and revered herbalist based in Alberta Canada. In 2015 Michael studied lab technique and mushroom cultivation under Dr. Daniel Tura at Aloha Medicinals in Carson City, NV. He has taught mushroom cultivation classes for Boulder High Country Mushrooms, The Growhaus, & Cow Town Grangers. 2016 is poised to be his busiest year, leading identification workshops for the Denver Botanic Gardens, The Living Arts School, Hatch Lab, the Walking Mountain Science Center based in Avon, Colorado, & Swedish based Fjallraven Outdoor Gear.

Visit Michael’s website


 Orien Star, Doll-Making

Orien StarOrien Star grew up in Austin under the hot Texas sun. From a young age she  worked with children, and eventually found herself drawn to study Early Childhood Education at Naropa University in Boulder. In addition to earning her degree from Naropa, she is also a graduate of the LifeWays program; a Waldorf-inspired teacher training program. For the last 5 years, she has been using her skills and inspiration as a teacher at The Boulder Waldorf Kindergarten. She has always loved handwork and through her teaching, became interested in doll making. She loves making dolls for each of the children she teaches, and appreciates witnessing the different personalities each doll takes on. In her free time she loves hiking in the mountains and having quiet moments to do yoga. She also loves to travel and hopes to make her way around the world someday, perhaps learning how each culture makes their own special dolls.


Paul Hayes, Chocolatier

DSC_1085Paul Hayes began working with chocolate about 20 years ago. He enjoyed eating chocolate, but became curious about how to work with chocolate. So, he took a class. The class covered basic chocolate tempering and working with molded chocolate and ganache. He really enjoyed it, so he bought some tools to do more. After many failures (which tasted great but looked terrible!), and lots more purchases, he gained some skill. After making lots of chocolate for friends at the holidays (averaging 3000 pieces per year!), for his wife’s parties with girlfriends, and so forth, people began to encourage Paul to “go pro”. So he did. In 2013 he installed a certified, professional kitchen in his home, and began selling his chocolate under the name PB Chocolates (PB stands for Paul’s Best).  When he is not busy making chocolate, Paul reads like a fiend, and does some software programming to make sure he has money to buy more chocolate tools…

Visit Paul’s website

Paula Slick, Needle Felting

paulasPaula Slick is a believer that art can make our lives richer every day.  As a lifelong artist, she has worked within many mediums, including drawing, painting, sculpting, woodcarving, stop motion animation, book making, doll making and silkscreening. She worked as an award-winning graphic designer for over a decade before earning her Masters degree in elementary education.  Paula once worked at a magical school in the woods in Pennsylvania called The School in Rose Valley.  She also attended the School of Visual Arts in NYC and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.  Currently, she is leading events that bring community together by creatively celebrating the seasons.  If you walk past her colorfully painted house, you might catch sight of her and her family dancing while cooking supper.




Phil Taylor, Bird Identification

Philip Taylor grew up around the Chesapeake Bay where productive waters, farmland and forests mosaic the earth. There he developed a strong connection with nature, which led him to the pursuit of an M.S. and Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology. He is currently fellow at University of Colorado – Boulder and the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. His research ranges widely from understanding tropical rainforest function and ecosystem biogeochemistry to solving sustainability challenges of modern agriculture. Philip has held a long fascination of birds and he is excited about introducing others to birding with the Living Arts Folk School.

 Samantha Shaw, Ceramics

IMGP4105Samantha Shaw was born and raised in the mountains of rural West Virginia.  In 2002 she packed up her things and moved to Incline Village, Nevada, near the stunning shores of Lake Tahoe.  It was there at Sierra Nevada College that she continued to pursue her undergraduate degree, graduating in 2005 with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Ceramics.  As she was finishing up her undergraduate work she stumbled upon the only Waldorf School in the state of Nevada.  It was there that she was introduced to a new love and passion, Waldorf education.  After assisting for two years in the preschool, and with the encouragement of fellow colleagues, Samantha enrolled at Rudolf Steiner College and graduated with her early childhood teaching certificate in 2009.

Samantha has many loves and interests.  You will often find her with a book or knitting needles in hand. When not knitting warm woolly things or reading a good novel she is often exploring the great outdoors–be it hiking, biking, or climbing. Currently she  teaches, and lives in Boulder with her husband Caleb whom she continues to have many adventures with.

Sarah Purdy, Knitting

DSC_0137Sarah Purdy is a Colorado girl, born and raised!  She grew up in a home where they baked their own bread instead of going to the store, and when a friend in college offered to make her a scarf-she promptly replied that she would rather learn to make one herself.  Sarah has been creating and doing arts and crafts for most of her life.  Her many interests and talents include knitting, woodworking, jewelry making, painting, crafts with kiddos and her biggest love, gardening and canning.  She believes it tastes better, looks better and feels better to create something with your hands rather than buying it.


Sharon Kermiet, Shape Note/Sacred Harp Singing

IMG_0078A financial professional serving nonprofit organizations by day and a singer much of the rest of the time, Sharon Kermiet began singing early in life with her family.  High school choirs and then an exciting and sublime experience in a black gospel choir at the Swallow Hill Music Association and in several east Denver churches led ultimately to her interest in the vibrant, full-voiced Sacred Harp singing style.  Sharon frequently visits the southern U.S. to sing with traditional Sacred Harp groups where she has fallen in love also with the Atlantic ocean, its beautiful coasts, and its numerous bird species.




Stephanie Flynn Sokolov, Spinning and Weaving

Stephanie Flynn SokolovStephanie Flynn Sokolov is a fiber fanatic experienced in teaching and motivating students in many fiber arts.  She has a diverse expert background including spinning, weaving, knitting, felting, and dying. Her interest in learning about fiber arts started at a very young age, she trained in Accessory Design at the Fashion Institute Of Technology, and continues expanding her expertise by seeking out the best in the industry. Stephanie’s projects can be found in Spin-Off Magazine, The Weaver’s Idea book by Jane Patrick, and she also Co-authors Yearning to Weave and Spin (a Schacht Spindle publication). All students are sure to find inspiration in any class she teaches. She loves to spread her contagious enthusiasm for spinning with everyone she meets, and is so fun to be around!



Tara Rae Kent, Soil Ecology, Vermiculture & Sewing

IMG_1617Born and raised in Wisconsin, Tara Rae Kent currently garden-farms on the Front Range of Colorado.  Tara Rae holds an Advanced Permaculture Design Certificate and Permaculture Teacher’s Certificate.   An avid composter, she has been vermi-composting for over a decade, starting dozens of folks with worm farms every year.  She teaches at her home as well as around the state of Colorado offering various Permaculture and urban farming classes at schools and festivals.  She has managed several greenhouses, USDA-organic, non-certified organic, and permaculture farms with experience in 3 climate zones – cool and wet; cool and dry; and warm and wet.   Over the last 15 years, Tara Rae has worked in scientific laboratories for universities, taught water quality monitoring classes, and authored a nature center field guidebook. She holds a Master’s Degree in Freshwater Ecology, and works as an environmental scientist/ecologist for HDR EOC.  Her passion for sustainable living has led her to volunteer for the Sustain Arvada Advisory Board to City Council, making recommendations for sustainable community development and vitality.

Tara Rae has also been crafting for over 30 years- she started using her first sewing machine at age 2.  She worked as a seamstress in theater for 4 years and currently runs her sewing business out of her Arvada home.  In the last 15 years, she has made over 200 quilts amongst basic alterations, renaissance garb, wedding dresses, kimonos, and corsets.

Vist Tara Rae’s website

Tzuria Malpica, Herbalism

1381415_576836575712336_245956960_nAs an Herbalist, Tzuria Malpica works with families, children and adults. Graduating from the North American Institute of Herbal Medicine in 2012, Tzuria holds a certificate as a Certified Clinical Herbalist as well as a Flower Essence Practitioner. From a very young age it was clear that her deep curiosity about plants would one-day bud into something great. She has always believed in the power of plants and sought comfort amongst the trees and flowers. Through exposure to various healing modalities and many practitioners she discovered her own interest in pursuing herbal medicine as a profession. Her biggest passions include teaching, medicine making, and botany. Tzuria works to support young adults and children through experiential education and strives to help individuals develop a stronger connection with themselves and nature.



Wesley Swartz, Orcharding, Cider & Mead

IMG_7845Wesley Swartz has always been close to nature.  He first started working in nurseries at a very young age and eventually traveled to Europe to supplement his education by working on organic farms and nurseries in Italy and Spain.  He has been managing a private orchard in Boulder for the last 5 years and teaches classes on orcharding and permaculture to interested community members.  Wesley truly loves everything associated with orchard life—beekeeping, composting, guild planting and grafting–and his passion for what he does is contagious.


Visit Wesley’s website