Day Five: Angela Robins, the Wood Working Warrior

Day five is all about our incredible boss lady woodworker, Angela Robins!

Photograph by Sarah Reller of Boreal Life Photography

Angela has had an impressive journey finding her way to a love of craft and woodworking.


Born in a rural fishing village in northeastern Japan to American parents teaching abroad, she has an incredible life story and it obviously has had a big impact on the woman she is today and the beautiful work she creates. A boat builder, woodworker and educator, Angela is inspired by the curved forms and distinct, strong lines of both Japanese and Scandinavian design and wooden crafts. 

Photograph by Sarah Reller of Boreal Life Photography

After spending her middle and high school years in both Japan and New York, Angela continued on to college in Massachusetts and then worked at a high school in Boston for just over 3 years. In her last year, she said her students started to "advise her." They recommended that she leave her job and use her artistic side more, because they knew that was where her true passion lived.

She listened to her students and quit her job.

She started working at a summer camp called Rosie's Girls, a trades & STEM (science, technology, engineering & math) exploration program for middle school girls in Vermont. She says it is because of this experience that she is now "doing what I am doing." She realized what she wanted was to teach kids how to be woodworkers. 

Photograph by Sarah Reller of Boreal Life Photography

From there, Angela started networking with people who taught woodworking. Eventually she met Douglas Brooks, an insanely talented wooden boat builder. His work focuses on the appreciation and continued use of traditional wooden boats, and the preservation and sharing of the skills and knowledge needed to build wooden boats.

He also has a thing for Japanese boats.


They Clicked.

It was Brooks who first told Angela about The North House Folk School. She applied for an internship in 2013, interviewed via phone inside a storage unit in Japan, and unsurprisingly was offered the position.

Photographs by Sarah Reller of Boreal Life Photography

From there she moved on to teach boat building through the youth development program, Urban Boatbuilders, in Saint Paul, MN. Then, in the spring of 2015, she had the incredible opportunity to go back to Japan, this time with Douglas Brooks, to document and learn from one of the last boatbuilders in northeastern Japan. 
Currently, she is a participant in the North House Folks School’s Artisan Development Program, an 18-month program focused on advancing the skills and knowledge of the next generation of traditional craft artisans. 

There is OH so much more to Angela's story, and I hope to some day dive deeper with you all and post a much longer interview here on the blog. For now, I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into the life of one of our most talented and inspiring artists here at The Big Lake.

Abby & The Big Lake Family


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