Five Questions Salon Edition with Mike Haeg

Five Questions Salon Edition with Mike Haeg

Mike Haeg portrait

Mike Haeg, maker and mayor of Mt. Holly, Minnesota 

Last Friday we introduced you to artist Katie Hargrave, maker of extraordinary flags that investigate nationalism, as part of our special edition of Five Questions to kick off our next Library Salon, which will be a Give & Take co-presented June 21, 2012 with Works Progress. 

Today we’ve got Mike Haeg, a man on a mission to understand the meaning of generosity and the core of why we craft. Mike is the founder and mayor of Mt. Holly, Minnesota, "Minnesota's Smallest Small Town." Since establishment, Mt. Holly has experimented with fostering creativity in its neighboring communities through events, film-festivals, a radio station, occasional gallery shows, and public art. Mike's firm belief in the need for everyone to make a little something every day has manifested in things like a hand-knitted scarf worn by 89 people at once, a dadaist sculpture that ice fishes, and a pistol-shaped bluetooth telephone earpiece.

What do you make?
I made a city (Mt. Holly, Minnesota - population 4). I knit (mostly socks and scarves). I make things with wood (little red arrows and birdhouses). I make junk guitars (out of license plates, cookie tins, and oil cans). Occasionally, I draw comic books.

What do you want to make?
I really want to become a better heavy-material stitcher. I'd love to be able to make fun and durable backpacks. I would also like to learn how to bootleg corn whiskey. . . for "medicinal" purposes.

What’s your favorite/most-read art or craft book in your personal collection?
As I am still a bit of a knitting novice, the book I reference the most is The Complete Encyclopedia of Stitchery by Mildred Graves Ryan. My favorite inspirational books, however, would be my shelf of vintage Popular Mechanics. Those things are bursting with great ideas.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Most of my inspiration comes from a good chuckle. I laughed myself stupid at the idea of someone answering their phone with a Bluetooth earpiece shaped like a gun. So, I built one. I never really appreciated Duchamp's readymades. So I turned one of them, Bicycle Wheel, into an ice fishing machine.

What artist would you like to see do a Give & Take?
Moonshiner Popcorn Sutton would be the ultimate presenter, but unfortunately he has passed on. I'd love to see Phil Vandervoort give a talk on sign painting. I've been a huge fan of his work and I lament the invention of the vinyl awning. His hand work lends so much personality to a business and its neighborhood. Aside from that, I'd really like to hear from some old folks who make things or are still very much self-reliant, 80+ old. I enjoy the Foxfire series, and would have to believe that there are regional folks with great talents and stories that should be shared and preserved.

Five Questions is a brief Q&A about books and craft, with people who love and use the American Craft Council Library.