I started WildCraft in the late spring of 2013, running about 15 classes from my personal studio up in on Snowden rd. I had left Portland a year prior, and moved to The Gorge with the hope of trying to merge my artwork and life in a more seamless way. While working as an adjunct professor at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, I became curious about alternative education models, especially those that got people outside for hands-on learning. I’ve always been attracted to folk art, and to artists that carved out creative lives and practices in wild places. The Columbia Gorge felt like the right place to test out some ideas, and build a creative space and community. WildCraft has grown tremendously from our humble beginnings, to currently running over 100 workshops each year, from our White Salmon studio, Portland Studio and offsite locations.
We are in the process of transitioning WildCraft into a non-profit 501c3, with the goal of providing high quality education to a greater population of our local community, as well as educating visitors about the culture, landscape and traditions of the Columbia River Gorge. We strive to connect students to their innate creativity through skill-driven workshops that focus on traditional craft practices, textiles, Native American art, foraging, and herbal medicine. Through hands-on experience, we aim to encourage a deep understanding of the connection between place, culture, and tradition.
-Chelsea Heffner, Director WildCraft Studio School