Hannah comes in to learn woodworking with me
It’s been a year since I move house and home, workshop, studio and woodworking school too, so I make no apologies for not having in-house training going on for a while. Hannah comes in to work with me now. She’s keen on woodworking of course and wants to pursue her future growth learning at the bench with me, so we set aside time for me to teach as much of what I know as I can. Through three decades now I have always made— time for young apprentices, trainees, internees and such, who can make their projects and, whereas I can mostly still carry on with my own work, I am always there to call on for advice and of course I can keep a watchful eye out if and when things go awry.
Hannah sketches information and that’s just as I always have through the years. Her new #4 with its beautiful rosewood handles has now been fully restored and sharpened and it’s really very beautiful–both in looks and use.
Hannah will be learning furniture making with me too, as this is something she’s passionate to learn from the inside out. We started her first project last week and we also began working on journaling, technical and perspective drawing and then her first lesson in hands-on sharpening her saws, which she pulled in full rust-red ready for training from a bucket offered secondhand for 50 pence each.
In meeting Hannah last year I saw that her ambitions seemed to closely match mine when I was her age or perhaps a bit younger somewhere in the late 1960s. Wanting to be a furniture maker has become more and more problematic for young people looking to their future these days because of the demise of talented crafting artisans disappearing one by one. Hopefully, by the time she has concluded her training, and with a few serious training projects under her belt, she too will gain enough to make change happen. Also, personally, I think it’s high time things shift for her and others like her to find higher levels of interest in truly hand-made workmanship. Instead of people buying imported stuff stuck together by robots they’ll be looking for something more substantive, with local connections by way of hearth-crafted makers just like me and Hannah, designers making fine-quality designs we are actually making.
It is more of a problem than you think, at least here in Britain, any way. Last week we added sound insulation to our studio to tone down the noise from power equipment elsewhere filtering into our filming space. The joiner installing the double glazed doorway asked about our work and my background as a furniture maker. He said his nephew “graduated three years ago from a three-year furniture degree program and since he started working has done nothing more than shove MDF through machines.” and then: “This is what he was really looking for, but he couldn’t find anything!” I hear these stories regularly enough and indeed I don’t see even qualified makers working for themselves doing much more than that. Another young friend qualified through three years full time university said to me two days ago, “I just spent the whole day with ear defenders on.” It’s dispiriting for them and dispiriting to hear. Imaging a 2:1 degree in design and this happens. Unfortunately young people struggle to power their way through a three-year degree program only to saddle themselves with massive debt in the hope that they have something to support themselves with on the other side. What to do! What to do!
This week Hannah was with me again and we went over her project. Her work is lovely, crisp in execution and very precise. She is what I call a tactical woodworker. Methodical, she strategises her moves by sketching her plan of attack. In her homework this past week she brought back some very nice drawings surrounding her saw sharpening, project and so on. Very inspired and very inspiring. Those of you who know my blog will recall how Phil developed this way and so too John and Lea, Sam too.