During the first three weeks of the Nine-month Comprehensive, students hone their skills with hand tools like chisels, planes, and marking gauges. After a bit of practice, they design and build a bench with dovetails and mortise and tenon joinery. From such a simple brief, the current Nine-month students have created a remarkably diverse array of work, providing us a small sample of the creativity to come this year.
For many furniture makers, a chair is the perfect vehicle for exploring the relationship between form and function. A chair requires ergonomic comfort and must be engineered to bear weight and movement. It necessitates a deep knowledge of joinery and the limits of wood as a medium. It has a rich and expansive design history, and is thus open to infinite manifestations of style and character. This dichotomy between what a chair needs to do and what it could be makes it the most challenging piece of furniture to create. It is also the most fun.
A very unique course is in session over in the workshop building. Mastering Veneered Boxes is a two-week workshop focused on exploring intricate pattern on simple form, taught by Adrian Ferrazzutti and Aaron Fedarko. Students have been carefully composing studies in geometry, repetition, and color with stripes of shop-sawn veneer. Before cutting into the real thing, however, they popped over to the office to photocopy the actual wood itself, in order to experiment with patterns on paper instead of using up precious material. Now they are moving on to the challenging techniques of cutting and joining veneer; luckily, though, they have two true experts on hand to guide them.
The end of the summer Twelve-week Furniture Intensive is always a little bittersweet. The sun sets a little earlier, nights are a little cooler, and we have to say goodbye to an incredibly hard-working and creative group of students. It's so exciting, though, to see what those students have created in their time here at school, and to hear what they have planned for the future. Some will return to their pre-woodworking lives, but with a new-found passion and deep knowledge of their hobby; others will take the plunge and open their own shops, making furniture full-time; and some will continue their education in woodworking in a number of ways, including our Nine-month Comprehensive.
Sarah Marriage, one of our current Studio Fellows, has been awarded the prestigious John D. Mineck Furniture Fellowship from the Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston. Sarah plans to use the grant toward opening a group shop for women in woodworking. As part of the award, her work is being featured in a show at the SAC's gallery called Stay in Touch: Seven Years of the John D. Mineck Furniture Fellowship. Work from all seven Mineck award winners will be on display, including that of former Center for Furniture Craftsmanship student and faculty member, Libby Schrum. See more of Sarah's work HERE, and learn more about the Mineck award HERE.
One of our popular summer workshops is the Precision with Hand Tools course taught by Garrett Hack. Through making a small end table, students gain a deep understanding of how to use and fine-tune hand tools for precise, high-quality work. Working efficiently with hand tools instead of machines requires patience and hard work, but can also be a far more pleasant experience for a woodworker, and it imbues a piece with the subtle nuance of the hand of the maker. I'm always impressed by how much students in this class learn and create in just one week.