2023 marks Cindra Hokkanen’s 37th year working at Sievers. In 1986, Cindra (then Anderson) began working for Walter Schutz, assisting Ann in the operation of Sievers School of Fiber Arts. When Walter sold the business to Ann and Butch, Cindra took on Ann’s office duties. On the occasion of her 25th year at Sievers, Cindra sent a note to Ann and Butch saying, “Who knew, when you asked me if I’d like to fill in, what a great adventure that would turn out to be?” As she enters her 37th year at Sievers, each and every day we feel the influence of her sparkling nature and the impact she has made in our lives and in the lives of our students, teachers and customers.
Cindra at the 1986 Sievers Gathering
Cindra (or Cindy) is generally the first connection students make with Sievers School by way of her welcoming e-mails and thoughtful greetings upon arrival. Her dedication towards “all things Sievers”, helpfully finding the answers to many questions, and remembering students’ names, makes everyone feel special. She offers so many warm and personal touches, creating a true part of the Sievers experience.
On December 31, 2023, after 37 1/2 years working at Sievers, Cindra is retiring.
A wonderful combination of delightful personality, organizational skills, expert writing and editing abilities, sense of humor and fun, care for others, and dependability, made Cindy the perfect candidate for Sievers. A good part of the success of Sievers is due to her special talents and she is endeared by teachers, students and visitors.
Although she’s usually on the other side of Sievers classes, Cindra has been a student several times taking classes in Beginning Spinning with Franie Philps, Weaving Home Furnishings with Lynn Schuster, Basic Willow with Jacki Bedworth, Navajo Rug Weaving with Fran Potter and Basketry with Jeanette Biederman, plus numerous classes that we once held in the winter months.
Many of you have had the privilege of hearing Cindra sing at Sievers class graduations. Most of the time, that song was “If Once You Have Slept on an Island”, the Rachel Field poem set to music by our friend, Dan Hansen.
If once you have slept on an island
You’ll never be quite the same;
You may look as you looked the day before
And go by the same old name,
But, once you have slept on an island
You’ll never be quite the same.
You may bustle about in street and shop;
You may sit at home and sew;
But, you’ll see blue water and wheeling gulls
Wherever your feet may go.
You may chat with the neighbors of this and that
And close to your fire keep,
But, you’ll hear ships’ whistle and lighthouse bell,
And waves beat through your sleep.
Oh, you won’t know why, and you can’t say how
Such change upon you came,
But—once you have slept on an island
You’ll never be quite the same!
On six occasions, from 2002 through 2012, Cindra and Dan charmed us with their musical entertainment on the last evening of the Sievers Gathering. Those concerts were well worth the two-year wait! (Cindra has also shared her voice through the years in the church choir, W.I. Music Festival concerts, Island Players productions, at the Red Barn and at many other places and events. Through the years she has been a devoted volunteer and continues to be involved in several Washington Island organizations.)
Besides her role in the operation of Sievers School, Cindra has handled the vast majority of Sievers Benchwork mail, phone and online orders from the start. Her ability to envision a “10′ x 16′ layout with a L-shaped cutout for the furnace and water heater in the corner of the basement”, then knowing just where each section, leg and angle should be placed, has made for many satisfied customers through the years.
Cindra has also lovingly taken care of all the handmade items sent to us by our students and teachers for the Sievers Shop since 1990. From maintaining contact with the artists, to pricing, recording and managing the thousands of items each year, her personal touch is part of each piece of art on display.
In October of 2011, we held a reception marking Cindra’s 25th year at Sievers. Here she is pictured with one of her sisters (Julie) and her mom (Cynthia), and then a few years later with her Sievers family. She wrote then, “It has been my honor, and one I take great pride and appreciation in, to be part of this wonderful business.”
Sievers will not be the same without Cindra. How can we capture all the shared joys through the years except by holding them in our hearts? Ours are filled with all the laughter and smiles, music, winter “follies”, conversations about Washington Island history, happenings and family, and much, much more.
Ann adds, “With well-deserved appreciation, gratitude and thanks to you, Cindra, we are blessed knowing that Sievers has shared half a lifetime with you. We are better because of you and your exceptional qualities and dedication. Thank you!”
Lucky us, to enjoy each day with the best of friends for all these years!
If you would like to send a personal message to Cindra, you can email her at email@example.com or write to her at Cindra Hokkanen, Sievers, P.O. Box 100, Washington Island, WI 54246.