March 2024 – With hopes of making a career in woodworking, Kelly Harris first came to the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in 2014 for an immersive and guided experience in woodworking and design in the twelve-week Furniture Intensive. “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 studying at CFC, Kelly enrolled in the Cabinet and Furniture Making program at North Bennett Street School in Boston to round-out her woodworking knowledge, and it was at North Bennett 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 taught in a variety of subjects, including music and English language. She quickly adopted teaching into her woodworking practice while still a student at NBSS, teaching middle school shop classes and assisting continuing education classes at night and on 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 amidst a robust teaching schedule. Where she finds 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.