Ashwood alumni have gone on to a variety of interesting pursuits. Many artists, musicians, craftspeople, and entrepreneurs in midcoast Maine and beyond are Ashwood alumni. If you’re an alum and would like to list your endeavor here, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tiyana (class of ’00) and Nathaniel (class of ’02) own and operate Goldenrod Textiles, a new studio space and store front in Thomaston, Maine. The pair hope to inspire “appreciation and stewardship of our local and global environment through the making of clothing and textiles from local natural fibers and botanical dyes.”
The idea behind Goldenrod Textiles came from Fibershed, a non-profit and global movement which promotes the environmental, economic and social benefits of local and sustainably produced clothing. In their studio, Nathaniel and Tiyana show visitors how the entire process of fiber production works. They source wool from local farms, which can then be carded and spun into yarn on site. Natural ingredients such as goldenrod are used to dye the yarn into an array of bright colors. Yarn for a wider range of handmade products is sourced from Maine mills. The studio space is home to various fiber processing machines, including a spinning wheel, loom, circular sock machine, and ‘flatbed’ knitting machine, which assists with educational demonstrations.
In addition to their own handcrafted items, Goldenrod Textiles currently offer a variety of educational books for sale, along with sustainably made items including knitting supplies, locally made cards and gifts. In time, they plan to offer a basic line of handmade clothing from all-natural materials; along with stuffed animals and toys. With a goal toward education, Nathaniel and Tiyana also plan to host and teach classes on subjects including spinning, dyeing, weaving, and knitting. They look forward to expanding their studio into a broader educational community, while raising awareness to the huge environmental benefits which come with supporting local and sustainable farming and fiber practices.
189 Main St, Thomaston, Maine
Goldenrodtextiles.com/ 207-975-5020/ Fridays & Saturdays 9:00- 3:00
Meghan Flynn graduated from Ashwood with the first eighth grade in 1998. She lives and works in Lincolnville, where she grew up. Meghan says: “I tend to focus on small editions and sets. Whether thrown on the potters wheel or pinched from a lump of clay, each piece is carefully made by hand. Having grown up in this small town just off the coast, I feel deeply rooted in my home. I draw inspiration from the rhythms of daily life, plants, animals, the surrounding hills, forests, and the sea. “
Resurgam Hot Sauce Company produces and bottles locally sourced, lacto-fermented hot sauce in Portland, Maine. Founded in 2015 by Henry Ginsberg ‘03 and two friends, their mission is to provide high-quality sauces while supporting and promoting sustainable farming in Maine. Henry and his friends began experimenting with fermentation as a hobby and have grown Resurgam into a popular business, with sauces for sale at several locations in coastal Maine and online at http://www.resurgamfermentation.com
When he’s not making hot sauce, Henry works as a brewer at Allagash Brewing Co.
Sean (’08) and Jamie’s (’12) magnetic sibling sound and contagious joy result from a lifetime of making music together. The brothers have honed a harmony-rich blend of contemporary folk and acoustic pop, and are often on the road performing. On stage, Sean and Jamie create a surprisingly full sound with dynamic vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, octave bass, loops, and percussion. Their debut album, “Oshima Brothers,” released in 2016, is a collection of 11 original songs written by Sean, and arranged and recorded by Jamie. Sean is the band’s songwriter, publicist, and business manager. He sings and plays rhythm guitar, harmonica, and cajón. Jamie is the band’s producer, recording/audio engineer, and filmmaker. In addition to singing, he plays electric guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, mandolin, banjo, and fiddle. The Oshima Brothers regularly release new original songs which may be found on their website and YouTube channel. They frequently perform throughout Maine and New England.
Coastal Caps was created by Ella Simon (Ashwood ’13) and Grace Kenney, students at Bennington College with a shared passion for art and the environment. Both women are very concerned about plastic pollution, and their idea for Coastal Caps emerged during first year studies helping to advocate for a plastic ban law in Vermont. Single use plastic bags are one of the most difficult materials to recycle, but Ella and Grace have created a new way to repurpose these bags into the brims of their unique, handmade caps.
Through the sales of Coastal Caps, Ella and Grace hope to reduce plastic waste while encouraging others to help ‘put a lid on plastic pollution.’ Their business was designed to grow in response to community interest and environmental needs. No two caps are alike, and designs vary based on currently available materials. Internal structure for the brim comes from many layers of repurposed plastic bags, which have been sourced from a local retailer’s bag-recycling bin or readily given by shoppers.
Ella is pursuing her passion for art while at Bennington, where she has also been influenced by CAPA (Center for the Advancement of Public Action) courses in food studies, community engagement, and environmental policy. Ella credits these courses with encouraging her to think about the sustainability aspect of her art work. With Coastal Caps, Ella and Grace have found a way to express their passion for art and environmental sustainability, all while doing their part to help curb plastic pollution.
Johanna ’02 owns and runs Songbird Organic Farm in Unity, Maine with her partner Adam. They grow about 3 acres of mixed vegetables, and about 10 acres of small grains, flint corn and dry beans. Each crop is a heritage variety, some of which have been grown here in the northeast for centuries. Songbird Farm sells much of what they grow to a regional distributor of Maine-produced food, and their products can also be found in local co-ops, farmers’ markets, and through CSA shares.
When not working on the farm, Johanna and Adam play together in “Sassafrass Stomp,” a contradance band featuring sweet, high-energy folk music they founded in 2008. The duo have played concerts, dances, and at weddings and workshops across the country, as they travel annually between Maine and Montana to visit family.
Ben Breda (class of 2000) has a home forge and studio in Hope, Maine, where he began making knives in 2012. He attended the New England School of Metalwork, and earned his American Bladesmith Society Journeyman rating in 2014. Ben is now an award-winning bladesmith working towards his ABS Master Smith in 2020.
In his studio, Ben hand-forges his blades from high carbon steel and Damascus. He creates various sizes and styles, from hunting knives to kitchen and pocket folding knives. All fixed and folding blades are his own design, and his blades are known for their artistry and ergonomic design.
To learn more about Breda Knives, contact Ben on Facebook (Ben Breda) or Instagram (@bredaknives). (Photo by Caleb Royer.)
Eliza ’00 uses textile design to bridge the worlds of art and science. While still in college at the Rhode Island Institute of Design (RISD) back in 2012, Eliza leapt at the unique opportunity to create a textile pattern for health communication in Africa. The resulting fabric used vivid imagery to spread health messaging for women’s reproductive health and was produced in Mali and Guinea. Eliza now works as executive director at the GAIA Vaccine Foundation, a Rhode Island nonprofit with the mission of infectious disease prevention in West Africa. Her research on traditional art practices has taken her to Tunisia and the Peruvian Amazon, where she has organized design workshops in many indigenous communities.
Eliza’s latest adventure is co-founding a social enterprise, Z Twist Design, which will work with international artists in the design of visual communication tools. These will be used to reduce health and education disparities in low-resource settings. Currently, Eliza and her team are working on several textile design projects for women and children’s health in Ethiopia and Niger.