I fell totally in love with wood when I joined an evening woodwork class for women in Bristol, UK in 1984.
In pursuit of my passion I trained full time as a Carpenter/Joiner. I learned everything from stair casing to roofing and dovetail joints in cabinetmaking.
Although the course was about carpentry and joinery, I became aware of how differently I learned the technical elements of the course to my fellow male students. I found it was necessary for my tutors to “state the obvious”, because I didn’t have the basic knowledge of tools and the understanding of terminology that my fellow male students seemed to have.
In 1985 I was fortunate to help set up a Government funded Women's Workshop in Bath, UK and with a group of women I began teaching woodwork to unemployed women over 25 years of age. This opportunity was an enriching experience indeed and over a 2 year period, I helped many trainees to become either teachers themselves or to start their own carpentry business. Some formed their own groups and offered an all woman service while others found jobs in the industry.
When I returned to Australia and later to sleepy country town, Mullumbimby I wondered if the women here would like to learn woodwork and they did. I set up a pilot course under the Govt funded NEIS (New Enterprise Incentive Scheme) and Woodwork for Women was born.
It was the awareness of the inequities in technical education that encouraged me to develop a system suited to teaching woodworking to women in an environment of fun, non-competitiveness with an emphasis on developing confidence. I designed courses using an (w)holistic approach using mind and body to teach tool handling and the fundamentals of furniture making.
My teachings may not follow the conventional route, the students arrive at the end point having gained an understanding of how and why the project is constructed the way it is and how to properly and safely use the tools. I believe that doing endless sample joints until you have acquired the skills to create the perfect joint, isn’t necessary, so we begin immediately on the actual project.
To see students wood working click here.
Women have been coming to courses at my workshop over the past 22 years making furniture. To see workshops available click here. Furniture they have designed and made for their homes, such as the daybed, the dining table, bookcases and toys for the kids. Some women have started businesses working with wood and others have been happy to make the rabbit hutch with the kids in the garden on the weekend. To see what students projects click here.
Although I predominantly teach women, it is not exclusive by any means and men have also been coming to classes over the years and are most welcome. There have been one on one classes for children from the age of 4yrs – 15yrs. Six year old Felix made his own workbench in hourly lessons once a week after school for several months last year.
I find teaching woodwork is one of the most valuable and rewarding things I have ever done and so I could reach more people, I self published my book Woodwork for Women – Cutting a New Path for Beginners in 2010 . To see book click here.
To compliment the book I spent all summer with my woodworking student, Miriam Salomon, making a DVD of the techniques used in the book. To see a segment of the 150min DVD click here.
I look forward to launching my franchise in the near future with the vision of running workshops to teach women (or men) how to set up to teach others including family members, how to build with wood.
I look forward to meeting you.