Two passions for creativity

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Two passions for creativity

By Shalee Hanson
Contributing Writer

“If I’m at your house and there’s a wood pile nearby, I’ll be picking through it.”

For years Mike Schutte of Castalia has taken an interest in woodworking, but in the last four years he’s been taking the skill more seriously.  Schutte’s work will be showcased during this year’s Northeast Iowa Artists’ Studio Tour.

It all started with an $8 wood lathe from some family friends.

“The very first thing I made was a candlestick holder,” Mike shared. 

Though he may have started with a simple candlestick holder, now on his fourth wood lathe he’s advanced his talent to make various wooden containers, game calls, salt and pepper mills, and his favorite pieces are his natural-edged wooden bowls. Friends have called on Mike to make sentimental pieces out of old family buildings, or unique wedding, Christmas, and birthday gifts. 
Schutte isn’t the only person in his home with a knack for creativity.  His wife, Rose, will also be displaying some of her works during the art tour.  After taking a pottery workshop in North Carolina, she began getting creative with her pottery pieces. 
“As far as we know, she’s the only person in the Midwest using that type of pottery,” said Mike of his wife’s creations.
She uses a pottery style called Raku firing. She utilizes an outdoor gas fire and doesn’t use any traditional glazes.  Horse hair, steel wool, and wood shavings are just a few of the natural elements she uses to create the glaze and designs on the outside of her unique pottery.  Her flair for originality is apparent in her finished pieces.

Mike also employs a unique woodworking style.  In addition to using maple, cherry, elm, and box elder wood, he also enjoys using spalted maple.  He will bury maple logs in sawdust and leave them there for several years; when he digs them up, a textured look that resembles marbling has been created (see photo).

This year’s Northeast Iowa Artists’ Studio Tour will be taking place Friday-Sunday, Oct. 11-13, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. The Schuttes welcome everyone to stop by their shop at 30731 Deerfield Rd., Castalia, to take a look at their unique handcrafted pieces. Though the tour comes around just once a year, the rural Castalia couple is busy creating pieces year-round.

For more information, please call Mike Schutte at (563) 380-2948 or email him at


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