This weeks student trip was a little trip down memory lane. A trip to see some old friends. Well actually a couple of Waters and Acland pieces of furniture. I felt it would be nice for our students to see some pieces that were made by our head tutor Graham. The pieces are by no means extravagant. The opposite in fact. They are classic examples of solid wood precision cabinet making. I wanted the students to get a feel for what exacting standards really are and the AW chest certainly illustrates this. I remember when Graham had completed the piece back in 2011, he expressed how pleased he was with the drawer fit. These were big, wide and deep drawers so they were certainly a challenge. Four years on however, and I am pleased to say that every drawer still runs beautifully. Truly piston fit with just the perfect level of air resistance when closed. Just perfect and I hope inspiring for our students.
The second piece we visited was the Tetbury Dresser. Again a beautiful piece of classic cabinet making. Solid wood furniture making at it’s best and again a great opportunity for our students to get close and personal with a piece made by their mentor Graham. Our client trusts us to take care with the pieces and so they were happy for the students to really inspect the finer details of the construction, and it is the construction methods that we focussed upon. Why and how was the piece made? How did we allow for wood movement? How were the finer details of the design realised? These are questions that our students need to get to grips with early on in their course. It’s all well and good being able to cut great dovetails but for many the dream is about making and also DESIGNING fine furniture. The sooner our students can identify methods of construction. Understand the why? The sooner their minds will be free to experiment with designs. To come up with their own solutions and to start the journey as aspiring ‘furniture designer makers’. As Graham always says “there’s always more than one way to skin a cat”.
Ali just completed an eight week course and wanted to share his thoughts on his time in the workshop.
“I really did not know what it means to get involved with wood before studying at Waters and Acland. Getting addicted to precision, understanding the working mechanisms of wooden furniture construction, smelling and touching the wood and experiencing its nature and materiality and getting inspired for a whole lifetime to produce and never get bored. Coming back to Istanbul and continuing my life here in the chaotic city as an architect, my days in lake district and waters and acland give me grounding, perspective and a feeling of a second home.”
It’s great for us to hear that our students are inspired by both the hours spent in the workshop as well as the beautiful Lake District. It’s a massive investment for students from both home and abroad to spend time in our school. An investment both financially and emotionally. For Ali it seems to have been worth it on many levels. We look forward to his return in 2016.
Yesterday we went in search of timber. Not just any timber, but timber worthy of spending hours upon hours turning into something practical and beautiful. A piece of fine furniture!!! The search was important on two levels. Firstly our long course student Craig is at the point in the course that he starts realising his own creations. He is now responsible for all aspects of his projects including design, making and of course timber choice and sourcing. The second big reason for the group trip was to introduce our two new students to the wonderful world of fine timbers. Well actually to introduce them to what is often a tough and also tricky search. When you are as fussy as we are, it’s not that straightforward to find the timber you’re looking for, and the sooner our students understand the process and become comfortable when carrying out the search the better. What to look for? What to avoid? How to be persistent even when the timber merchant is putting the pressure on for you to get a move on and make a purchase? All these things you can warn students about but actually being there. Actually being involved in a real buying experience is by far the best way to learn. Anyway, enough of that for now. The most important thing is that Craig sourced some beautiful native Sycamore and Yew for his bedside cabinets, and we are all looking forward to his project developing. What this space for work in progress shots.