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Mendhi hands by Pushpa Jain. Photographer unknown. All rights reserved.Fish decoy. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Embroidered dress detail. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Cedar bird by Glen VanAntwerp. Photo by Al Kamuda. All rights reserved.
Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Awards



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Peter "Pekka" A. Olson and Jennifer Miller
2013 master artist and apprentice
Chassell (Houghton County) and Pelkie (Baraga County)
Finnish American woodcarving and basketry


Pekka Olson began his “love for wood” through his father who was of Finnish and Swedish descent. Together they made many of their own tools, such as hay rakes, handles, door latches, and hazelnut brooms as well as toys, such as wooden whistles, rifles, and slingshots. Pekka learned the Scandinavian woodcarving crafts of fan birds from several Upper Peninsula carvers and has traveled to Finland to learn from a carver there how to make boats, trees, and Finnish styles of carved birds. 

He is passing on carving traditions and basketry to his eldest daughter, Jennifer Miller. After leaving the Copper Country to attend college, Jennifer realized how special the region is and the importance of learning more about her Finnish heritage. During the apprenticeship, Jennifer’s training will include field trips to learn about different trees, plants, and animals, with the intention that these interactions with nature will be brought into her work. She is looking forward to learning from her father and continuing these traditions.

-Mary Worrall


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