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Katie Bister

Manager of Pine Croft

I moved to Berea, KY in 2019 for my first year as a student at Berea College. Prior to this I was in Kijabe, Kenya where I attended Rift Valley Academy for Middle and High School. This is where I had my first experience with woodworking. We had to take a woodshop class my 7th grade year and the teacher was unkind and discouraging which lead me to have a negative impression of the craft. I figured it didn’t matter because I wasn’t planning on being a woodworker and would probably never set foot in another woodshop. At least that was the plan until I was assigned to the Woodcraft Department of the Student Craft Program at Berea College for my labor position. I had quite a bit of anxiety entering a woodshop again but was immediately struck with the compassionate and welcoming attitude of the staff at Student Craft. By the end of my first year I realized that I was really drawn to working with my hands and loved the contrast that it provided to the time spent in the classroom. During my four years at Berea College I spent all of them working in the Woodcraft department as well as exploring the other craft departments at Student Crafts. I took classes in Fibers and Ceramics and ventured to the Broomshop to learn to make hand brooms. Each year I spent more and more time in the studio and soon all of the work I was doing in my classes was also relating to craft. In the Summer of 2022, I received a scholarship from the Chairmaker’s Toolbox to take a Stick Chair class at the Lost Art Press. This was my introduction to the world of chairmaking and in the next year I made over 15 different chairs as prototypes for a rocking chair design that we were designing for Student Crafts. This was during my Senior year at Berea College while I was also trying to figure out what came next for me as I was about to graduate. I looked into craft schools and applied for fellowships but after some closed doors I was made aware of the Pine Croft Manager position. I have developed such a love for the town of Berea and the community of Craftspeople here and look forward to continuing my time here! I am excited to continue to welcome students to Pine Croft and support them in their learning here as we work to build an inclusive craft community!