Enrich the resiliency and vibrancy of individuals and communities through joyful learning, creative cultural expression, and appreciation of folklife


covid-19 Emergency Repsonse

Dear Arbutus Community:

Our organization is working hard to respond to this rapidly changing crisis.

  • We have canceled all March and April classes and are working with instructors and students to reschedule as much as we can. Classes starting May and later we will address closer to their start time.
  • We have closed the facility and staff are working remotely. We are not able to check the phones – email is best: info@arbutusfolkschool.org.
  • We have updated our cancellation policy.
  • We are gratefully requesting donations to help us through this time.
  • We are developing concepts to build a digital community portal – watch our newsletter and social media posts.

Please take all recommended precautions, remember you can put your nervous energy into creative work and we look forward to celebrating in person with you all when we get the official “all clear.”

In love and good health,
Stacey and the Arbutus Staff

What’s New at Arbutus?

Arbutus Executive Director Position Open

We, the Board of Directors, are aware of the significant changes befalling us all as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds. We had been planning to seek a new Executive Director since January and decided to cautiously continue to move forward. We will be flexible in regard to timelines, interviews, etc.  Our goal is really only to come out of this difficult time with Arbutus as strong as possible, balanced, and ready to grow.  The position will be open until filled.

ED Position Announcement can be found here.

A note from founding director Stacey Waterman-Hoey

Forming Arbutus has been the greatest joy and honor of my life.  When we look forward at the opportunities ahead for Arbutus, we recognize that the skills needed to start up an organization like this are very different from the skills needed to meet those opportunities. We are opening the possibility for a new set of skills and new energy for building on what has been started at Arbutus.  We all look forward to a collaborative transition in leadership as an exciting and positive step forward!  This virus outbreak has certainly made us all doubt this is the right time, but we decided to continue with the plan and see how it plays out, expecting the hiring process will take some time as well. 

Ceramic Artist in Residence Position Open

Arbutus Art Auction

Save the Date! Our 2nd Annual Art Auction will take place on Saturday, Oct 17th. Details about donating art or experiences or sponsoring the event can be found at the Learn More link below.

Plum St Village Final 1

Plum St. Village Mosaic

The mosaic has been finished and installed! The goal of this project was to create an opportunity for members of the tiny home community, surrounding businesses and neighbors, and the general Olympia community to get to know each other while creating a public art project for Village residence. Participants created an incredible array of unique work, as each individual house was lovingly created and then purposefully incorporated into the larger mosaic.  The finished mosaic is roughly 3 ft x 5 ft, arranged by Jennifer Kuhns of JK Mosaics. The piece has been donated to the Low Income Housing Institute and is installed permanently in the Plum St. Village.  Additional information about the Plum St Village can be found here.   The Arbutus Folk School thanks the City of Olympia’s Grants to Arts Organizations funding for this project.

Leading From the Roots

Arbutus Folk School Project Examines Economic Impact of Rural Arts, Culture and Heritage

Olympia, WA —Arbutus Folk School, in partnership with Fielding Graduate University and Highlander Research and Education Center, has received a $200,000 federal grant to engage local artisans, craftspeople, and tradition bearers in a study of economic vitality and resiliency through arts, culture, and heritage-based activities.  The “Leading from the Roots” project will investigate how local traditional artists can help reduce our region’s dependency on external or unsustainable economic drivers, develop economic vitality and improve resiliency in rural communities.  The project will also examine the potential for other folk schools across the United States to use a Community Based Participatory Research process to broaden their engagement and impact.

Artists in Residence

Ceramics: Claire Muehleisen


Francis Fong

Olympia Woodworkers Guild

The Olympia Woodworkers Guild is a program of the Arbutus Folk School, dedicated to fostering a community of woodworkers.

The Olympia Woodworker Guild meets the 4th Monday of each month at Arbutus Folk School. Doors open at 6:30 pm and the meeting starts at 7:00 pm. Guests and families are welcome.

Check the OWG page here for the current month’s program and events.

Remembering Marjorie Erickson

Arbutus lost our dear friend Marjorie on Tue, Feb. 25 after a short illness with cancer. Marjorie built our weaving studio over countless hours and along the way, became an endearing friend to all of us. We will be naming the studio “Marjorie’s Loft”.  Our volunteers are working on an idea to commemorate her.

Before Marjorie came along, we thought we would not be able to offer floor loom weaving. We had the idea we’d like to offer it, but we had no looms and no one who knew how to weave! Somehow word traveled to Marjorie and she introduced herself to us. She put the word out to her vast, mysterious network of weavers that we were looking for looms and they just started pouring in.

These machines are really big and really complicated. She (with a lot of help from her husband Frank!) vetted every donation, and thoroughly overhauled every one of them.  When the weaving loft was as full as it could possibly be, she decided which ones we needed to ‘trade up’ when better looms were donated. She sold the old ones and gave me the checks to put toward the weaving equipment or toward the school’s endless general needs.

She really built our studio – we could never have done it without her, and we don’t think anyone else would have done what she did to get this studio functional. We have 8 wonderful looms now, which is the perfect size for teaching.

Weaving Loft

Marjorie’s Loft

She was a deep well of technical knowledge about the looms, the fibers and weaving techniques. She was also a beloved, passionate, generous and supportive teacher. She was a gateway to learning for many students who felt welcomed into the vast world of fiber arts.

We will always be grateful that she got us to a functional state and built up our program. But even more, we are grateful for her friendship. I love, love, love that little sly smile when she was up to something!

Here is Marjorie’s bio from our website:

Marjorie Erikson has been weaving cloth on a variety of floor looms for over 25 years. She has taught private lessons in her home for at least 20 years and now teaches Beginning Weaving for the Olympia Weavers Guild. Her work has been shown in Galleries in WA, OR, CO, CA and WI. It has also been published in Handwoven Magazine and Shuttle, Spindle and Dyepot. She holds awards from the Handweavers Guild of America, Handwoven Magazine, Association of Northwest Weavers and WA State Fair. Continuing to learn new weaving techniques and passing along her knowledge of weaving is of utmost importance to her.

We miss her so much and love her like crazy! She has been such a gift to us and the weaving community! Our heart is with her husband Frank.

-Stacey Waterman-Hoey, Arbutus Executive Director

© Arbutus Folk School