Jolly Wood Fellows

Written by Ellen Dyer on .

There is always something interesting afoot in the Thomas Miller Jackson Building, home of the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship’s Fellowship program. In essence, Fellowships are courses of independent study that can last anywhere from a month to a year. They provide emerging and established furniture makers, carvers, and turners with a stimulating environment to explore new techniques, refine their design aesthetics, and/or develop new products.

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Fellows share a 5,400-square-foot woodworkers’ dream shop. There’s a bench room with European-style workbenches, and a fully equipped machine room with dust collection and an array of drill presses, tablesaws, jointers, planers, bandsaws, and lathes, plus a shaper, CNC milling machine, router table, stationary sanders, oscillating spindle sander, chopsaw, scrollsaw, horizontal slot mortiser, and more.

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While here, the Fellows are welcome to get cracking early in the morning or work late into the night (or burn the candle at both ends!) wrestling with design, experimenting with techniques, and building portfolios. They also have 24-hour access to the Center’s library.

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While the workspace is enticing, interaction is the hallmark (and arguably the most valuable aspect) of the Fellowship program. Fellows may sit in on lectures and demonstrations and consult with Center faculty. Bi-weekly critiques with faculty and visiting instructors provide guidance, new perspectives, and inspiration.

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Of course, the heart of the Fellowship program is right in the name: fellowship. These “jolly wood Fellows” bounce ideas off of each other, swap advice on technique, and lend helping hands. Or just simply eat lunch together.

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In return for the opportunities provided by the Fellowship, Fellows provide six hours of service a week to the Center. The duties can be pretty varied – from dump runs, to painting plinths for Messler Gallery exhibitions, to grilling shish kabob at the Open House.

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Ultimately, the goal of a Fellowship is to emerge with improved skills and work to be proud of. Fellows are also eligible to participate in the biennial alumni exhibition in the Center’s Messler Gallery, gaining public exposure for their work. Kate Davidson (whose work is pictured immediately below), Jamie Herman (below left), and Owain Harris (below right) are among nine former Fellows featured in Alumni and Fellows 2021, which was recently on view in the Messler Gallery.

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