The school was founded in 2013 and is a 501c3 tax exempt non-profit.  At this time all of our operations (rent, utilities, building maintenance, tool purchases and replacements etc.) are funded exclusively by registration fees and all of our equipment has been either donated or purchased with small grants.
Watch a video introduction to the Arbutus Folk School!

Support our work to build a strong craft community!  Your contribution will help us build a solid foundation for growth and become the Northwest’s premier folk craft and cultural destination!

Ways to support Arbutus:

  • Become an Arbutus Guild Member! This is the most important way to provide sustained support for Arbutus. Learn about membership benefits!
  • Donations: Credit card and reoccurring donations: Please consider checking the box to make a reoccurring monthly donation!  Regular contributions are invaluable!  Check to see if your donations qualifies you for a membership!
  • Mail a check to Arbutus Folk School, 120 State Ave NE #303, Olympia, WA 98501
  • Become a sponsor!  Email Stacey “at” arbutusfolkschool “dot” org or call  (360) 867-881 to discuss options.
  • Our Federal Tax ID is 46-3046450.

Contributions to Arbutus will support:

  • purchasing tools and equipment – see detailed list below.
  • infrastructure needs such as HVAC, upgrading/expanding power outlets, improve lighting, plumbing,
  • improve our computers for administering school programs
  • funding our tuition assistance program
  • building our retail program and online sales
  • dust collection system for the woodshop, tools, equipment
  • set of instructional looms and spinning equipment
  • last but not least, your chance to contribute to the kind of activities you value taking place in your community!

The Arbutus Folk School was founded in 2013 with a mission to “enrich lives and build community through joyful hands-on learning with master artisans.” We are located in a 4,000 SF historic building in downtown Olympia and have core programs in Wood Arts, Blacksmithing, Fiber Arts, Ceramics, Music and Simple Living.

During our second year of operation (Oct 2014 to Oct 2015) we employed over 40 instructors, reached over 600 students and had several thousand people attend open house demonstrations and events.  In our first year of operations (10/2013 to 10/2014), we offered over 75 classes with more than 35 instructors.

We sell certified-sustainably harvested lumber from Thurston, Mason, Lewis and Grays Harbor counties, all from small family tree farms. We partner with the City of Olympia, the Washington Dept. of Natural Resources and Cedar Creek Correctional Facility to utilize urban wood waste and help provide training for inmates. We also partner with Kokua Services, a non-profit that provides support to citizens with disabilities, to offer art education workshops.

Arbutus was founded to promote the Pacific Northwest’s regional craft identity and strengthen the local craft economy. We believe (and other folk schools around the country have shown) there is a significant ecologically and socially sustainable economic development opportunity by promoting craft tourism.

A quick review of the press we have received in our short life span is impressive, and includes articles in The Olympian, Thurstontalk, The Seattle Times, Olympia Power and Light, The Spokesman Review, The Columbian, and KOMO news. We were also featured in a listing in and in, which included Arbutus as one of 25 inspiring folk schools rooted in traditional know-how across North America. A recent Scandinavian Knife Making class even had a listing on a Swedish web site!

We have learned a lot together, built a beautiful new community and created some wonderful experiences.  Our email list is read all around the world and people have traveled across the U.S to attend our classes.  We are truly a unique place!

Things we need:

Retail and Office:  a document scanner, larger white boards, new computers, graphic design software, refrigerator.
Woodshop: We have a detailed list of tools we need for the woodshop –Wishlist for Woodshop Jan 2015
Metal shop: blacksmithing tools, anvils
Music program: 1 or 2 quality microphones, speakers and sound board for events
Ceramic Studio: photo of bin system for glazes We need a bin system (like this photo) to store our glazes, 4 pottery wheels
Fiber Program: 6 Rigid Heddle looms, spinning equipment.

Facility upgrades: We need to add sinks dedicated to our ceramics studio.  We have the sinks…just need them to be plumbed. This is a fairly sophisticated project that will required a licensed plumber.

Your donation is tax-deductible! 

Thank you to our sponsors! We wouldn’t be here without you!




Duncan And Assoc banner

Funding news:

  • 2015 Arbutus received a $5k grant from the City of Olympia Lodging Tax Advisory Committee to support tourism activities.  We used the funds to purchase event booth equipment, event registrations. promotional materials and building signage.
  • 2015 $700 grant from Encore Arts to enhance youth access to arts.
  • We received $2,000 in donations during our August campaign targeting the retail operations.  We received assistance from Cedar Creek Correctional Facility to remodel the front of our building to prepare the space for retail activities.
  • Arbutus is thrilled to announce that we received a $600 grant from the Community Sustaining Fund of Thurston County! This grant, combined with additional donations from the community, will fund a $3k project to purchase and install a new kiln and ventilation system for the ceramic studio! We expect the project to be completed by the end of June, 2015.  Thank you CSF of Thurston Co for your generous support!
  • Our craft library is growing!  Arbutus Folk School has received a generous donation by Jean Mandeberg, a well-loved professor of art and art history from The Evergreen State College.  Jean is retiring this summer and has donated a significant portion of her professional reference collection to our library! Come by and check it out!