Debra Manderfeld

When Debra Manderfeld was introduced to the ancient craft of wet felting, she was intrigued by the process that worked at odds with the distinct outline of the shapes she wanted to use. In pursuing her work with felting, Debra has learned to embrace and be inspired by the medium. Debra’s work is notable for her use of vibrant color – she cites vintage textiles as an important inspiration.

The St. Paul fiber artist, a former scientist, is also a designer of quilts, ballet costumes and gardens.

See a recent article in the Star Tribune about Debra HERE

Kelly Marshall

Kelly Marshall’s inviting textiles are perennial favorites among craft-lovers across the country. A weaver and designer, the Minneapolis artist founded Custom Woven Interiors in 1992 and built a following with her durable, reversible cotton and linen rugs, table runners and wall hangings for home and corporate settings. She has since expanded her repertoire to include soft blankets and longwearing upholstery fabrics.

Her knack for rich color combinations and distinctive patterns took root during a year abroad early in her career. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Applied Design from the University of Minnesota, she continued her study of textile practice at the Belgian Lace School and at Sweden’s Forsa Folkhogskola, where she learned the Scandinavian Rep weave technique that is the foundation of her work. Her designs are also influenced by elements from Prairie Style and American Southwest traditions. Custom work is Kelly’s specialty: she is adept at creating pieces that fit the specialized needs of her clients.

The artist has won multiple awards, among them, Best of Show in Fiber honors at the Philadelphia Museum of Arts Craft Show and a Juror Award at Denver’s Cherry Creek Arts Festival. Her work is included in the collections of the American Swedish Institute and the McKnight Foundation in Minneapolis and the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

Kelly works to foster education about and appreciation for the fiber arts as a speaker and guest instructor. Dedicated to the support of emerging artists, she has maintained an internship program at her studio since 1993 and participates in the Mentor Program at the Textile Center in Minneapolis. Kelly is a member of the Fiber Artists Collective, a national organization of professional artists.

In November 2010, Kelly was featured on the tpt series MN Original. Watch the video here.

Brenna Busse

With captivating faces in clay, garbed in intricate constructions of diverse materials, Minneapolis artist Brenna Busse’s mixed media figures are beloved by collectors across the country. Intensely personal, the figures reflect the artist’s continuing experience of her craft and of the larger world, and thus they speak to the viewer in an authentic way. The artist states, “using materials as metaphor, I share my celebration of the beauty of nature, faith in possibility and the sacred quality of daily life.”

The artist describes her process as “mud, rags, sticks and stuffs.” Beginning with “mud,” she forms clay heads, hands and feet, transforming them through fire in the kiln. In response to these individual elements, she then imagines a body, most often made from “rags,” or fabrics, both fine and course. “In the tradition of ‘doll’ that I claim as a powerful icon of my girlhood, I use fabric,” she explains. “Cloth carries familiarity and comfort. Constantly touching us in our daily lives, our clothing is a second skin. My figures with frayed edges, loose threads, tracks of stitches show the trace of making by hand to honor the beautiful imperfection of humanness.”

“Sticks” are also essential to Brenna’s work. “Since I began making figures over 20 years ago, I have always included some aspect of tree,” she says. “Attached to the figure, they are symbols of strength and growth. Sometimes, entire figures are sticks, with fabric, wrapped and knotted, holding them together. It is my praise song to nature.” “Stuffs” are the found materials – bottle caps, buttons, keys that don’t fit – that find their way into her work. Items lost and found, she feels, represent the “stuff of our lives” finding new purpose.

Brenna’s work is familiar to art fair-goers. Since 1989, she has participated in numerous art and fine craft shows including Denver’s Cherry Creek Art Festival, Madison’s Art Fair on the Square and the St. Paul American Craft Council show, regularly winning awards of excellence. As an advocate for the arts, she is a long-time member of the Women’s Art Registry of Minnesota (WARM) and through that organization has been mentored and now serves as a mentor to emerging artists. Brenna has been teaching art classes to children and adults for over a decade and is a member of the committee that produces the Powderhorn Art Fair, held annually in the artist’s Minneapolis neighborhood.

Debbie Cooter

“I was introduced to rug weaving as a folk art. The tradition of using recycled clothing to weave decorative and functional household items appealed to my creative and thrifty nature. I wove hundreds of yards of rugs for people, developing my own style and color schemes,” states Debbie Cooter, who produces sturdy floor coverings and cozy blankets at her studio near Two Harbors, MN. The artist continues to experiment with patterns and dyes her own fabrics, bringing relevant contemporary design to this traditional craft.

Debbie’s textiles have won many awards including Best of Show in Fiber at the 2008 Uptown Art Fair in Minneapolis. Active as an arts promoter, she has served on the boards of the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council and the Art Relief Board in Duluth. For several years, she was the Director of the Depot Art Fair at the Duluth Art Institute, where she was also a weaving instructor.

With her husband, the potter Dick Cooter, Debbie has participated for over a decade in the annual autumn Crossing Borders Studio Tour hosted by North Shore artists in Minnesota and Ontario.

Randall Darwall

With their complex color and patterns, woven scarves from Randall Darwall’s Bass River, MA studio are known for their ability to partner with almost any piece of clothing. “Why use five colors when fifty will do nicely?” asks the artist.

Early in his career, Randall tried painting, but became frustrated. “When I mixed color on my palette I usually ended up with mud because I never knew when to stop. (Weaving) has all the internal logic and order that I lacked,” he explains. Randall personally dyes his fibers and strings the warps on the loom, often collaborating with a trusted assistant, who adds the weft in response. “I design as I weave, struggling to keep up my own end of the conversation with colors, fibers and the constantly chiding voice of function,” he says. Randall uses fine silk that is often combined with other natural fibers for texture and drape. The scarves are tightly woven to withstand wear over time, although they are intended to soften with use.

The artist earned a degree in art history from Harvard before completing a masters’ in art education at the Rhode Island School of Design in the 1970s. He was a faculty member at the Cambridge School of Weston, Massachusetts and has since taught at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Tennessee. For the last 30 years he has maintained a small, thriving studio, producing much sought-after wearable art. His partner, Brian Murphy, is a garment designer, who turns Randall’s beautiful cloth into striking vests, jackets and other ensembles.

Randall’s work is represented in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, New York City’s Museum of Art & Design, and the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC.

Martha Monson Lowe

Martha Monson Lowe incorporates rattan, seagrass, driftwood, and vine into the beautiful rattan baskets she crafts at her Decorah, IA studio. Interested in achieving a natural, timeless quality, the artist creates her work – weaving with wet materials – keeping ancient traditions in mind. She draws on time spent living in Africa and is especially interested in clay vessel forms – her husband is the potter George Lowe. “I am intrigued with design, taking traditional baskets and expanding them beyond mere function,” states Martha. “Many of my signature pieces include incorporation of driftwood as a handle to the basket. These ‘Chelan Baskets’ are named for the lake from which the driftwood is gathered.”

Martha weaves with materials that are wetted for pliability. She uses plaiting, twill weave, three and four rod wale, plain and continuous weave and twining techniques. When finished, her baskets are dyed with pigments derived from walnuts she gathers near her home.

Martha has been making baskets since the late 1980s. Largely self-taught, she explains, “I have expanded my weaving abilities through teaching hundreds of basket weaving students through the years,” most recently at Luther College in Decorah.

Emily Johnson

Emily Johnson got her start in the jewelry business at a young age by selling custom-designed friendship bracelets to the other fifth graders at lunch. Today she works with gemstones, blackened silver, and pink and yellow gold, producing pieces she describes as “subtle, but edgy.”

The Minneapolis artist explores simple geometry, deftly combining forms that suggest cells and windows with hammered and etched textures, varying the colors of her metals and adding interest with stones from amethyst to black diamond. Whisper-light rings and substantial hammered cuffs are emblematic of her line. Emily also employs copper, feathers, coral and quartz in bolder pieces and offers a whimsical series of forms that reference anatomical hearts, wishbones and the state of Minnesota.

A graduate of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Emily continually draws from her fine art background to fashion unique and sculptural jewelry pieces.

Emily was recently featured on the series MN Original, watch the video here.

Jeff Gray

A native Vermonter, Jeff Gray grew up in the foothills of the Green Mountains. Today he maintains a studio in North Bennington. Jeff cites the rolling hills and colonial Greek Revival houses of the area as influences on his jewelry designs. He is also inspired by other artists, whose example encourages him to test his creative boundaries.

Jeff has been a jeweler for over thirty years, creating classic easy-to-wear designs in silver.

Lisa Sorrell

Custom cowboy boot artist Lisa Sorrell was raised in southwest Missouri and by age 15 was making dresses for the ladies at church, moving on to prom and wedding gowns as her skills improved. After relocating to Guthrie, OK with her husband in 1990, she found she missed her sewing business and answered an ad for someone to “stitch boot tops,” finding her first mentor, legendary bootmaker Jay Griffith. Never having worn cowboy boots, Lisa found the form a perfect fit for her construction skills and love of design. She served as an apprentice to another bootmaker before opening her own business in Guthrie in 1996, and remains committed to the tradition of fit and function while pursuing her passion for the motifs and colors that characterize a custom cowboy boot.

“The interaction of man and nature is a consistent story in my work,” states Lisa, who regularly incorporates butterflies, flowers and leaves in her designs. “My work encourages the viewer to consider both man’s obsession with the perfection of nature and his subconscious desire to contain it.” Between boot commissions, she uses her expert leatherworking skills to create supple, decorated bracelets with a Western feel.

Lisa’s work has been featured in publications as diverse as Cowboys and Indians and Ornament magazines. She has been invited to participate in exhibitions across the country, and won a gold medal for her work during International Shoemaker’s Days in Wiesbaden, Germany.

Britta Lynn Kauppila


“All of my designs are handmade by fire and hammer. I love the relationship between the maker and the materials, where human hands manipulate and shape metal to become something very soft, delicate, yet substantial,” states metalsmith and jewelry artist Britta Lynn Kauppila. “Since the dawn of day man has adorned himself with jewelry. I draw from this historical element to create pieces that tell their own story or piece of history. I love to work in ancient techniques including granulation and keum boo and accent them with antique gems like rose cut diamonds and sapphires. There is a close relationship between the piece of jewelry and the handmade process. In my metal work I am very interested in texture. Nature provides a wonderful example of how different value, form, line, and texture combine to produce movement, rhythm, and harmony. Asymmetrical figures produce symmetrical forms as symmetrical patterns also breed asymmetrical themes. I am drawn to the contradiction of the hard, immovable, structural metal mimicking the most delicate and soft pieces of nature.”

The artist holds a BA in art with a concentration in jewelry and metals from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. After several years developing her line in Minneapolis, Britta established a studio in Duluth in early 2011.

Britta was recently featured in the series MN Original, watch the video here.