The Nine-month Comprehensive recently graduated its latest class. Twelve students spent an intense fall, winter, and spring progressing through projects in hand skills, drawer making, machine skills, finishing, drawing for design, solid wood casepiece construction, turning, CNC machining, veneering and marquetry, curvature, carving, product development, and chair making. The students came with a wide range of aspirations. For some the experience was an affirmation of their goals, for others it redefined them, as the following student profiles illustrate.
Everything you possess of skill, and wealth, and handicraft,
Wasn’t it first merely a thought and a quest? – Rumi
Wayne Branch, from Gypsum, CO, has worked in a cabinet shop since high school. He came to the Nine-month Comprehensive to take his woodworking to the next level, particularly in regard to hand skills and advanced techniques. His plan was to transition into furniture making, eventually. The program gave him latitude to explore many facets of woodworking, and about halfway through he found his true calling when he made a banjo. While there may be furniture making in his future, Wayne says he now has his sights on becoming a premier banjo maker. In the short term he is returning to the cabinet shop, where his employer is supporting his ambitions by setting him up with a private bench for banjo making after hours.
Graham Sparks, from Little Compton, RI, works in finish carpentry and began finer woodworking as a creative outlet, doing mostly sculptural work. He came to CFC to increase his woodworking skills, hoping to eventually branch out into furniture making. For Graham, the Nine-month Comprehensive was an affirmation, “It was a great experience,” he says, “I have a lot of new skills that I can apply to both my job and my hobby.” Post-graduation he is returning to finish carpentry and plans to gradually expand his furniture portfolio.
Glen Gordon of Freeport, ME, had long intended to take up woodworking full-time as a transition out of corporate life. He was a hobbyist for twenty years while working as an environmental engineer, and envisioned setting up as a small professional woodworking shop of one. Glen signed up for the Nine-month Comprehensive to perfect his skills and develop his personal voice in design. His enthusiasm is palpable. “I loved every single day of the class,” Glen says, “…well maybe not the few days we did a lot of computer work – too close to my old job – but it confirmed that I love being in the shop every day and it gave me what I need to get my own workshop started.” You can learn more about Glen’s work at freeportcraftsman.com, where he is taking commissions and selling work already.
Jeffrey Aurand of Pittsford, NY, has been an avocational woodworker for several years. He came to the Nine-month Comprehensive because he wanted a dedicated period of time to focus on craftsmanship, with the goal of elevating the fit and finish of his pieces. He collects and makes puzzle boxes and aspired to have them be as well-executed as possible. During the Comprehensive, however, Jeffrey unexpectedly found himself drawn to the design element of each project. “I was fascinated to see how the assignments in the curriculum were expressed so differently by each student,” he explains, “and I enjoyed exploring the ‘why’ behind what draws me to certain design elements.”