Bristol residents Kenneth and Angela Kortemeier will hold the first classes at the Maine Coast Craft School, on their Old County Road property, at the end of July.
The Maine Coast Craft School will primarily teach woodworking. Students will learn how to work with hand tools and raw materials to make items like chairs, bowls, and spoons, and will learn the skills necessary to create many more items.
The Kortemeiers met at art school in Atlanta in 1985 and have been friends ever since. They married and moved to Maine in 2003. They moved to Maine for the apprenticeship program at The Carpenter’s Boat Shop.
Kenneth Kortemeier taught woodworking at the Atlanta College of Art from 1998-2003 and taught wooden boat-building and furniture-making at The Carpenter’s Boat Shop from 2003-2013.
He believes it is important for people to make things with their hands, rather than buy something made in a factory.
“I think it’s in our nature to work with our hands. We use tools to affect our environment and make things,” he said. “I think there is still a desire to make tangible things as we move more into a digital age where things are, perhaps, less physical and tangible … There’s desire among people to work with tools and directly with materials to make beautiful things, especially beautiful useful things that are applicable to daily living.”
The couple aims to work strictly with hand tools to increase and enhance their students’ connection with the material. The school will also focus on using raw materials rather than milled lumber.
The school is oriented toward people who are new to woodworking. Classes will consist of only five students each in order to guarantee an individualized learning experience. The $100 fee per day, per class includes the necessary tools and lunch.
The hours of the school are planned to be 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., although they are subject to change. Some courses will meet Monday-Friday and others Monday-Saturday.
The school will hold classes in a timber-frame building near the couple’s home at 260 Old County Road in Bristol.
Kenneth and his friends are building the classroom mostly with 19th-century timber salvaged from the estate of Huston Dodge, a well-known Damariscotta resident and friend of Kenneth’s who died Jan. 30 at the age of 99.
The building is a tribute to Dodge, Kenneth said.
“Most of the time when people build something, they buy new materials,” Kenneth said in a post on the Maine Coast Craft School website. “This generally guarantees them fairly consistent dimensions, and no nails to pull or rot to watch out for. I really appreciate that our building will have a special story though, and a tangible connection to the past through its salvaged materials, despite the extra effort involved.”
The building will be off the grid, according to the site. It will use solar power for lights and burn wood for heat.
The school also plans to renovate a 1970s-vintage Airstream Argosy trailer as a guest room or office space, and will host a community-build week to make the first of several yurts for more guest lodging.
The couple could use some help with the tasks ahead. The best way to help would be to sign up for classes, though they also welcome volunteers and donations.