The Centre of Fine Woodworking is a small wood working school located in the North Nelson region, and they are the only independent not-for-profit woodworking specific school of this kind in New Zealand!
We live in a world where we are dealing with the challenges of Artificial Intelligence writing essays for students, computer generated emails and more… Am I speaking to a human or a computer? Don’t you think it’s time we got back to using our hands and minds to build products that last for generations? A well-crafted piece of furniture stands out because it’s not easy. It will last generations and holds a story of how it was made. The object itself has a Mana.
Who remembers wood working class at school? This may evoke memories of fun projects that took a whole term to make. For many it was the first time they have shaped wood and built something you can hold with your hands and feel good knowing you started with the raw product then arriving at the destination of a finished piece.
Founded in 2006 by two talented brother in laws John Shaw and David Haig, this workshop is world class and has beautiful equipment to match. It’s really something special, as internationally renowned makers/tutors personally assist the students with their various projects.
Their teaching style is experiential, and the course content is all practical teaching and learning. The workshop is relaxed and informal, but don’t be fooled by that… they are passionate about offering a wide range of high-quality learning opportunities for students at every stage regardless of their skill level.
On top of that they are located in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Check out the pics and you will see what all the fuss is about. Located only 10 minutes North of Nelson CBD, the rural setting is perfect for getting into ‘the zone.’
Whether it’s a guitar making course, carving or fine woodworking class, it’s ideal for those who want to enjoy the benefits of ‘hands on’ style adventures, and reap the benefits of making something beautiful like a jewellery box or a chair out of natural timber.
Students come from all walks of life… some travel long distances to attend the course, some are medical professionals who often find it a relaxing process turning their focus towards working with wood, Design-technology teachers who desire to up-skill and get some inspirational ideas to bring to the classroom. Class sizes are a maximum of 8 with ages ranging from 16 – 80 years old.
Surrounded by Gum trees overlooking a calm rural setting with the mountains as a backdrop, it’s amazing to see the level of difficulty and quality of what the students have been creating.
There’s an exhibition at the Parker Gallery at 90 Achilles Avenue, Nelson that runs from Thursday the 11th May till the 13th of June. You need to go and see it with your own eyes and see what the students (who have just completed the 9-month Furniture Makers’ Programme) have been doing. It’s incredible to witness the attention to detail and the creativity of the various works. Working with timber is not easy!
“Starting something from its raw form and finishing it to perfection using traditional hand tools and machinery is all about the process of design, experimentation, problem solving, repetition and practice, and it builds student’s confidence as they go.” says Helen.
Lead Tutor Lou Fuller has completed a fine arts degree in the UK and moved to Nelson in 2006 and teaches full time at the Centre. She is clearly a passionate teacher and maker. Working with her hands is something that comes naturally and there’s plenty of laughter as she walks around helping the students one on one.
Building something unique out of timber is a soulful and character building process. Your chisel needs to be 100% sharp to make sure you get the cuts right.
There is a guitar making course that runs for 3 weeks. The tutor involved has built many guitars including a guitar for singer/songwriter Sinead O’Connor.
The Centre’s courses do not offer any formal qualifications, as students attend both for professional and personal reasons – the common goal is that they all want to be the very best they can be and they soon discover you can do a lot more than you imagine – even in only a few weeks the results are impressive because of the quality of the teaching.
Remember to visit the Parker Gallery in the Whakatu Carpark in Nelson to see with your own eyes what the students have been working on.
Does this inspire you? If so get in touch with them today!
Visit their website and join their email list for latest courses on offer.
Explore the virtual tour of Emerge Exhibition at Parker Gallery
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