March 2024 – With hopes of making a career in woodworking, Kelly Harris came to CFC for an immersive and guided experience in woodworking and design. “I wanted to learn as much as possible, become comfortable in a shop working with hand tools and machines, and learn how to take an idea through the process of design and build.”

After CFC, Kelly enrolled in North Bennett Street School’s Cabinet and Furniture Making program to round-out her woodworking knowledge. It was at NBSS that Kelly was introduced to chairmaking. “I learned how to make a Windsor chair from Peter Galbert, and this was a turning point for my studies in the program. Through this process I became more engaged with wood as a material and expanded the scope of woodworking possibilities far beyond 90 degrees and flat.” After graduating, she went on to work for and assist Peter, a full-time chairmaker, which brought her further into chairmaking and teaching. Kelly now works for herself doing commission work, chairmaking, tool making, and teaching chairmaking at various craft schools.
Kelly is inspired by her students and their growth and problem solving within the classroom. Before Kelly began woodworking, she had taught in a variety of subjects, including music and English language. She quickly adopted teaching into her woodworking practice even while still a student at NBSS, teaching middle school shop classes and assisting continuing education classes on night and weekends. “For me education is the sharing of skills and thoughts, and this is symbiotic and lateral amongst the class, not hierarchical. It fills my heart and my brain.”

Kelly continues to work on furniture commissions in between her robust teaching schedule. Her motivation in her personal practice changes over time, and she appreciates how woodworking keeps her moving, both intellectually and creatively, while allowing her to feel connected to herself, the earth, and other people. “I want to make things that are needed and wanted. My first woodworking project was making muddlers for a restaurant where I was a bartender for almost a decade. Now I am a toolmaker. I love tools of the trade.” Kelly is currently working on the production of a tapering plane of her own design in partnership with The Chairmakers Toolbox.