September 28-29 Workshop: An Adventure in Relief Printmaking & Simplicity in Words

We are very excited to announce a special workshop being offered this month highlighting the arts of relief printmaking and writing. The instructors, Gaylord Shanilec and John Coy, will collaborate and lead participants through a creative process that draws inspiration from the natural beauty provided by the woods, fields, and creek at the Avon Hills Folk School. 

Below are statements from each artist explaining what to expect from their portion of the workshop. We are honored to be hosting these extremely talented Minnesotan artists. Shanilec, a world-renowned book artist, and Coy, an award-winning author, will both bring a great deal of experience and ingenuity to this unique workshop. 

An Adventure in Relief Printmaking with Gaylord Shanilec

Over the 40 years I have been making books by hand, I have become known for my wood engraving—that is cutting into the end grain of the wood. A few books ago I printed a study of the trees in our 20 acres of Wisconsin woods that involved collecting, making blocks from each of the species, both end grain and long grain (wood cut), and printing from them. From that point on I have been making my own blocks. In my most recent endeavor, My Mighty Journey, the block-making has moved deeply into the world of nature printing. For MMJ we have been printing primarily from found objects: plants, limestone, rotting wood, even the shed skin of a snake. If you follow the above link you will go to a voluminous record of our journey. If you scroll down slightly you will find an index. You’ll probably need it.

For this workshop we will set up a make-shift print shop, collect natural materials, and see what we can do with them. I will also bring along the blocks and tools necessary for wood engraving and wood cut printmaking and give you a taste of what I know about that. Paper, ink, and an assortment of tools will be provided, but do bring along any woodcut or linocutting tools you may have, also any other tools you think may help to make things printable (saws, knives, etc.). 

To learn more about Gaylord Shanilec click here. For the index click here.

Simplicity in Words with John Coy

Though I have written a number of novels, most of my writing time is concentrated on picture book text. These stories are designed to be read by an adult to child with illustrations throughout. Because of this, the text is short with an emphasis on every word counting. We learn how to take away what’s not necessary and move towards the essence of the story. In My Mighty Journey, with stunning art by Gaylord Schanilec, we use six hundred and nineteen words to cover the past twelve thousand years from the perspective of the only major waterfall on the Mississippi River. That averages out to about ten words for every one hundred and ninety years.

In this workshop, we will slow down and ground ourselves in the beautiful environment we are in. We will pay attention and look closely at what is in front of us choosing words as specifically as we can. We will then sort through our words moving towards the essence of what we are seeing, hearing, smelling, and touching. In doing this, we will have fun and surprise ourselves with what we write.

To learn more about John Coy click here.


Hours: 9am – 4pm on Saturday and 9am – 3pm on Sunday 

Cost: $295 (with discounts available for educators and students.) 

Meals: Breakfast and lunch will be provided both days. A Saturday evening meal will be provided for all participants and instructors where we will continue our conversation and community. Breakfast will be served from 7-8:30am both days. This is a great time to meet and connect with the instructors and other participants, particularly at the beginning of the workshop.

Lodging: Camping is available on-site if you are interested and there are several rooms available on-site as well for $40 per night. Note: these rooms share a common bathroom down the hallway. Rooms may also be found at the Abbey Guesthouse nearby (3 miles away) at St. John’s Abbey and University by calling 320-363-2573.

Clothing: Please dress appropriately for the forecast, including proper footwear, as you will be spending some time in the outdoors during this workshop. You may consider knee high mud boots if you own a pair. These will allow you to venture into Spunk Creek.

Space will be limited so if you are interested please sign up by paying below, email, or call soon! If you have questions please contact Chris Schellinger by email at or by phone at 320-492-1444. If you think you may qualify for a discount (educators and students), please contact Chris before paying.

We hope to see you there!

An Adventure in Relief Printmaking & Simplicity in Words

Workshop registration fee


“This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Central MN Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.”

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