“I just wanted to congratulate with your staff for the great quality videos that are surrounding your work. During the videos I noticed many improvements in descriptions, camera captures and the quality of images. That’s very important for people that view the projects from home.
“Thanks Giorgio, I’m a fortunate woodworker. Personally, I think it reflects the dedication of the young people I work with. You don’t get to see them as I do, but not only are they lovely to be around, they craft their work with fineness in the same way I craft my pieces. I say you don’t see them as I do meaning face to face in the every day. I say ‘young‘ because they are all quite, quite young and aspiring in their own right.
You see they’re adaptable, concerned, caring. They flex, they make things happen that wouldn’t happen without them.
And then, just when I think that things can’t get any better, they reward me with something new and interesting and so vastly better. Personally, young people amaze me because they are mostly marvellous. They are bright, bright-eyed and they do amazing things to amaze me all the more when I see them every day.”
I wrote the above in reply to a blog comment from Giorgio recently. I meant every word of it of course, but I want to extend it to those who follow us that I never meet but I see if I look at our demographics or other comments made; you know, those quietly watching our work in the background. Those going into their workshops alone an evenings or weekend spent dedicated to a love they have for working with wood. I imagine them picking up their new-to-them tools from under the workbench they just built and haven’t had time yet to try it out, or the one they are building following our bench-build on woodworking masterclasses and YT.
You see there was a time in the pre-digital age when the ones I reached were the ones with time and disposable funds or income to spare. Nothing wrong with that. They’ve stayed with us, but I knew I wasn’t reaching the next generations yet to come and that that had to be changed.
I don’t scour the demographics at all really, but sometimes something pops up in this digital age that piques my interest. The age range of interested woodworkers has drastically changed over recent years. When I began teaching in the USA, say around 1995, the majority of students coming to my class were over 50 and then the majority of those were indeed over 60, from more professional backgrounds and predominantly male and middle class. I enjoyed what they brought to the classes and I learned a lot but I worried that young people just were not there in any kind of number. That has largely changed now and I am glad we persevered because we have managed to stay the tide primarily because of our online presence and outreach. Also, many of my hands-on classes are predominantly younger people under the age of 50 and often young people under 25 now. I think that that’s a remarkable shift but then I ask myself, ‘Why the shift?’ Personally, I believe it’s to do with accessibility? Yes, that is exactly what it is, accessibility!
Shifting to online continues to get better because of everyone I work with. Some say it will never truly replace hands-on but if we keep working to present what is difficult to present and close in on what you can’t even see at the bench then we just might achieve what previously might have evaded us. Currently what we have has become an ultra-close second and it’s getting all the better. For me, this means that in a given year we are training many many thousands of times more people than we could ever do with hands-on groups at my bench. YouTube, of course, has been our biggest audience and it’s here that we mostly pass on tool techniques and methods of work, which we have always wanted to be free content but content with the same woodworkingmasterclasses.com (WWMC) quality. Mostly what we post on YT is first presented on WWMC and then posted on YT for the wider audience. It’s amazing looking at the pictures from followers around the world who post their work on our gallery. What an impact this has made and is making. But then it is the silent work that takes place in our studio that amazes me all the more. Phil and Ellie, Mark, Carla, Joseph and now Izzy too—these are the ones that quietly discuss the issues you never hear about. They are the ones that free me up to do what I do best and they present me in a way that shows their sympathy for the work I do and the goals we all have. You see they care about the work they do and carefully craft the elements they are responsible for but then imagine this, there we are sitting and discussing a filming issue and Mark pipes in, “What about trying this or that?” We all go with a corporate, “Wow! Yeah!” and take action. Just how do I share all of the input I get with all of these goal scorers?
So I can get on with my drawings and sketching, measuring and making knowing that everything I see taking place in the background is being well cared for. Who could ask for anything more?