Project: Achieving Excellence

  • This is an occasional series about everyday Minnesotans who exhibit mastery -- the combination of knowledge, skill, experience and understanding that offers a deep command of a topic or activity. Future installments will delve into the lives of people in athletics, the arts, science and other personal pursuits.

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That’s a wrap: St. Paul milliner Angie Hall Sandifer does virtually all of her work by hand. “The balance has to be there, the proportion,” she said. “I have to like it.”

Tom Latané is a self-taught master blacksmith who operates out of a shop in Pepin, Wis. On this day, he was working to craft a key for an heirloom chest.

Larry Donahe, owner of Split Cane Rods in Victoria, makes high-end bamboo fly-fishing rods. Here he wraps parts of the rod in silk thread. A rod can take 50 hours to make and cost $1,500 and up.

At his workshop in south Minneapolis, 25-year-old bike frame builder Alex Cook worked on a custom-made stainless steel frame, his specialty.

“Vocal empowerment coach” Ariella Forstein works out of her home in south Minneapolis. Here she guided singer Pamela Machala through a warmup.

Minnesota Zoo keeper Ben Sutton got up close and personal with Kenai, a 7-year-old male brown bear, earlier this month at the Russia’s Grizzly Coast exhibit.

Heather Cronin Ott worked with Jacob, a student in the Communication and Interactional Disorders program at Otter Lake Elementary School.

Sean Nagle, an attorney with Fredrikson & Byron, won the 2012 state chess championship and did not play competitively again until this month’s Minnesota Open.

  • Chess master expects to win

    Article By: WARREN WOLFE , Star Tribune Publish February 26, 2013 2:00 AM / Update April 2, 2013 4:38 PM

    In this continuing series about everyday Minnesotans mastering their craft, a chess king talks about making all the right moves.

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Glass blower Craig Campbell, 62, of Mahtomedi

  • Glassblower channels art and passion

    Article By: WARREN WOLFE , Star Tribune Publish February 5, 2013 2:00 AM / Update April 2, 2013 4:39 PM

    In our continuing series about everyday people mastering their craft, a Mahtomedi artist talks about learning life lessons through shattered glass.

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Manny's Steakhouse waitress Nancy Olson.

  • Restaurant server breaks the mold

    Article By: WARREN WOLFE , Star Tribune Publish January 8, 2013 2:00 AM / Update April 2, 2013 4:34 PM

    In our continuing series about everyday people mastering their craft, a steakhouse server at the top of her game talks about reaching for greatness.

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During the winter, Dave Voss moves some of his triathlon training indoors.

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