Willow Furniture & Woodworking
Classes & Workshops


Wood Chip Carving: 2-Session Workshop

Saturday, July 18, Noon-3 p.m. AND
Saturday, July 25, Noon-3 p.m.

Bart Dunning, Chip carver for 20 years, instructor for 5 years

Introductory Level

All supplies provided (value $24), including your own high-quality chip carving knife and 2 wood blanks

Chip carving is a centuries-old form of folk art practiced around the world. In this two-session course you'll use wood carving tools to remove chips of wood in a single piece. These patterns can be in a free form style or based on simple geometric figures, such as triangles, circles, simple lines and curves.
  • Discover the history and art of chip carving
  • Understand the best type of wood used for chip carving
  • Learn how to care for, sharpen and use the chip carving knife
  • Practice safe handling of tools
  • Learn to make various cuts as you develop a feel for the wood
  • Watch demonstrations on how to accomplish free hand and geometric cuts, compass drawing and curved cuts
  • Get creative! Draw a border design and make your first cuts
  • Learn important finishing steps

Leave with your own beautiful folk art style piece.

Limit 12, Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center - McVay Learning Lab

$89 member/$104 non-member, includes Arboretum
admission and all supplies

 couple making a bent willow bench together

Bent Willow Furniture

Bim Willow, Bent Willow Artisan and Author

Select a Project:
Bent Willow Chair
Saturday, August 22, 2020 1-6 p.m.

Willow Birdhouse Bench
Select a session
Saturday, August 22, 9 a.m.-noon
Sunday, August 23, 9 a.m.-noon

All levels, especially beginners!

See below for basic tools to bring from home.

Bim Willow is coming back to the Arboretum in a tricked-out bus full of willow and you will not want to miss it! You will build your own beautiful bent willow chair or birdhouse bench to take home within a matter of a few hours--really! Bent willow furniture was an early American craft that is making a strong comeback.

  • Get step-by-step guidance
  • Learn how to hammer, bend, create and finish your piece
  • In addition to the class, you'll enjoy a guided tour of the willow sculpture by Patrick Dougherty- You Betcha

You will head home with your completed chair or bench, finishing oil, and a fine sense of accomplishment! Bim's books will also be available for sale.

How it works
Bim and his assistants will rotate through all participants to provide one-on-one attention as you complete each step. The amount of time to complete a project varies based on the student; the time listed is an estimate.

Bring from Home

  • Hammer
  • Pruning shears
  • Vehicle large enough to carry your finished project home
  • (rental vehicles available by the hour at Home Depot & Menards)
  • Loppers (suggested, optional)
  • Wire cutters (suggested, optional)
  • Water bottle (suggested, optional)
  • Bag lunch/snacks (optional)

Registration Deadline
All registrations must be received no later than Monday, August 10 at 3pm in order for Bim to harvest the required willow materials for your project.

Bim Willow Furniture: Make a Bent Willow Chair


Saturday, August 22
1-6 p.m.

$299 member/$319 non-member, includes Arboretum admission and all supplies

Couples price! $320 member couple/$340 non-member couple, for couples working together on the same project.

Limit 10, Picnic Shelter - A

  birdhouse bench, photo by Laura Vogel
click to view larger

Bim Willow Furniture: Make a Willow Birdhouse Bench


Saturday, August 22
9 a.m.-noon
$150 member/$170 non-member,
includes Arboretum admission and all supplies
Couples price! $171 member couple/$191 non-member couple, for couples working together on the same project.
Limit 20, Picnic Shelter - A

register Sunday, August 23
9 a.m.-noon
$150 member/$170 non-member, includes Arboretum admission and all supplies
Couples price! $171 member couple/$191 non-member couple, for couples working together on the same project.
Limit 20, Picnic Shelter - A


Painting Wooden Barn Quilts for Beginners

Saturday, September 26
Noon-4 p.m.

Jill Dalbacka, Barn enthusiast and experienced barn quilt painting instructor

No experience necessary

All supplies included

A barn quilt is wood painted to look like a quilt block used to adorn homes, buildings, and barns. The simple geometric shapes and bold beautiful colors of this American folk art often reflect particular meanings. 
  • Learn the history and significance of barn quilts
  • Choose to paint on a 12" or 24" wooden square
  • Choose from a variety of templates to graph your pattern
  • Receive guidance on techniques to paint a beautiful quilt
  • Use acrylic paints to create your design using techniques taught in class
Leave class with your own quilt square ready to hang or give as a gift!

Limit 15, Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center - McVay Learning Lab

$69 member/$84 non-member, includes Arboretum admission and all supplies.


Classes Catalog

View online
Adult Fall/Winter 2019/2020
Adult Spring/Summer 2020
Kids Summer 2020

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Helpful Info

Cancellations & Exchanges
Cancellation policy

Member Perk!
Arboretum Members may invite non-members to attend a class with them at the discounted member rate! Simply register for all participants at the same time in the same order and select the "member" rate for each person at checkout.

The best chance of being enrolled in a sold out class is to add your name to the waitlist. Click the orange "waitlist" button and complete the form, or call 612-301-1210. There is no obligation to register if a spot opens. If the waitlist shows enough demand, additional class sessions may be added.

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