Artist Profile: Hawk Henries

Music is a vital part of Fiber College whether during class, while sitting down at the beach with new friends, or during a special evening event (check them out at In recent years, we’ve sung with the quilters of Gee’s Bend, danced to the music of the Somali basket-makers, and enjoyed a variety of music during our evening celebrations. This year we will have the amazing opportunity to spend time with flute-maker, musician, and storyteller Hawk Henries.

Hawk Henries is a member of the Chaubunagungamaug Nipmuck, a people indigenous to what is now southern New England. He has been composing original music and making Eastern Woodland flutes using only hand tools and fire for over twenty 25 years. Not only will Hawk be teaching a two-day Flute Making Workshop at Fiber College (Weds/Thurs, September 7-8, 9-4 each day) but also he’ll entertain us on Wednesday at the “Wabanaki Dinner and Evening.” We’ll share some traditional Wabanaki food (vegan and gluten-free options available) after which Hawk will perform traditional music and tell us some of his favorite stories. What an evening!

Hawk Henries, flute-maker, musician, storyteller

Hawk Henries, flute-maker, musician, storyteller

Hawk has a huge following and has performed at a number of venues worldwide. Be sure to visit his website to learn more about his teaching, travels, and performances. But first, stay here, and meet Hawk! Then you can register for his flute-making class and/or the special Wednesday evening event (listed with classes and vendors). Here’s Hawk!

As we celebrate the tenth year of our Fiber College community, please tell us how community plays a part in your life as a fiber artist.

This is a difficult question to answer! Community is a complex “being” of which I am a part. For me it includes Tree, Animal, Insect, Flower, Rain, and of course People. My flute making and playing are informed and inspired by the whole of Community.

Tell us how you entered into the world of fiber and the fiber arts.  

I have been a flute maker for about 28 years. I learned out of necessity after ruining a flute that that was gifted to me. After repairing, it I applied the newly acquired knowledge to new materials.

Hawk's two-day intensive Flute Making Workshop will be held on Weds, Sept 7 and Thurs., Sept 8 from 9-4.

Hawk’s two-day intensive Flute Making Workshop will be held on Weds, Sept 7 and Thurs., Sept 8 from 9-4.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever given to a student or another fiber friend? 

When learning to build flutes, the only mistake one can make is not gathering knowledge from our perceived mistakes . . .

“We will be constructing our flutes out of bamboo in this workshop. It’s a wonderful material that allows us to focus on the functional aspects of flute making. We will only be using hand tools such as carving knives, various types of files, sandpapers, and fire (torch). The workshop will be tailored to each person’s level of experience, allowing you to flow at your own pace. It is my hope is that participants will finish with the confidence and inspiration to apply these same techniques to creating flutes of their own.”  ~ Hawk

Hawk guides a student during the burning process

Hawk guides a student during the burning process

You’ve hit a roadblock and need to get back into your creative groove. How would you do that? 

Photography, writing, cooking, watching seals, birds, whales, trees, talking with people . . .

Hawk's Tuscaloosa Tornado Bull Flute

Hawk’s Tuscaloosa Tornado Bull Flute

What does your studio space look like now? What change would you make if you could? 

I work in a shop that was used by a furniture maker. It is uninsulated and dark. I would love to be able to keep it warm and have windows that allow light in.

Hawk teaches flute-making to students of all ages

Triumphant students with their flutes!

Tell us about a proud moment you’ve had as a result of your students’ efforts. 

There was a young man who clearly had been severely burned in a fire. He was scarred over much of his body. When it came time to burn the sound holes into his flute he was understandably very afraid. I explained that this process was very safe and that I would help make him comfortable and safe. I invited him to put his hand on mine as I heated the tool. Eventually he grew comfortable with this and asked if he could hold the tool in the fire! For the remainder of week-long workshop he became my “fire” helper!

At another workshop there was a 3-½ year old. I did hand over hand with him through the whole process of making a flute. His mom was elated when she saw the flute that was made!

Who has had the greatest impact on your work as an artist? 

As a flute player I would have to say that a man from Taos Pueblo, John Rainer, has had a great influence on my relationship with the flute. He combined traditional music aesthetic with classical training. His music was and remains so very beautiful…a joining of two worlds.

A flute made by Hawk

A flute made by Hawk

How do you ensure plenty of time to be an artist? 

How does one not? I suspect that all “artists” are inspired and influenced by life. I think that a “piece of art” is the final product of a person “being” an artist . . . living life.

What’s the most important thing that you want potential students to know about you? 

I’m a clown and like chocolate 🙂

Hawk works with students of all ages

Hawk works with students of all ages

You can sign up for Hawk’s class and for the Wednesday evening event here.

Here are links to Hawk’s website and his Facebook page.

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