We have just completed our Spring term at the school. On the final day of the term, as is tradition, the students, teachers, alumni, friends and family gathered at our home for a lovely term end elephant. As I addressed the group I reflected back on what was a significant term in the history of our small school, one word came to mind Gratitude.
Jessie Lafleur completed his second residency term at the school. He is currently working on a lovely wall cabinet in teak, olive and Lebanese cedar. The cabinet shown was completed last fall during in Composing, and was recently photographed by alumni Tim Andries. The 'Cortes' cabinet is made of pear and arbutus on a stand of granadillo. The workmanship of the piece is impeccable and shows great attention to detail.
Refeal Greenblatt from Israel, just completed his second term of Composing and will be moving into a residency this summer. Refeal completed this cabinet in pear, arbutus, red cabruva and Honduran rosewood in the winter term, and has since moved onto parquetry cabinet with integrated stand in kwila, doussie and tan oak. The construction of his current piece is deceptively complex and workmanship is among the best we have seen at the school. When reflecting on his progress as a craftsman, having arrived at the school with vary limited experience in the craft, it has been remarkable.
Tim Andries talents as a photographer are only surpassed by his abilities as a craftsman and perhaps hoarder of wood. This cabinet in claro walnut, london plane and amazon rosewood was completed last fall during Upward Spiral. He has since completed a fine Vidar's Chair in his third term, and will be returning for a part time residency this summer. The composition and workmanship of this cabinet is exquisite, the fact it is his first cabinet makes it that much more impressive.
Spencer Barnard completed his residency in the fall. The cabinet shown above was made during Composing, ia made of Sipo, highly figured and spalted big leaf maple, Honduran rosewood and Spanish cedar. He also fabricated and patinated all the brass hardware for the cabinet. The Urn below, was thoughtfully made made with a careful hands and is filled with lovely compound curves and parquetry. It is made of arbutus, makore and an interior from a very special piece of wood.
Refeal completed this side table in bocote as a side project during his third term at the school. He used one of my earlier piecess as a starting point, adjusting the dimensions based on the wood.
Jessie Lafleur's wall cabinet was made during Upward Spiral and is made of locally harvested English walnut, pecan and imbuya. The starting point for the cabinet was Jim's maple cabinet which appears on page 21 of A Cabinetmakers Notebook. Jessie also drew a great deal of inspiration from Lael Gordon's pear cabinet made back in 2005 at the school. The back panel was playful work and shows the enjoyment of the maker.
This past spring we said goodbye to Britta Krenov who passed away peacefully at the age of 94. In Jim's farewell address that we listen to at the end of each term, Jim speaks of just how important Britta was to him, and how grateful he was for her love. Several years ago, I was visiting Jim in his workshop one afternoon, this was about the time his eyesight began to fail. While he reflected back on the craft, I recognized just how much he missed teaching. I asked Jim if he would consider speaking to my students by phone. He immediately dismissed the idea suggesting that it would be to difficult to articulate our work over the phone. When I mentioned this to Britta before heading home, she said to leave it with her. When I arrived home later that week, there was a message from Jim saying "When can we start?" She facilitated each of the nearly two hundred and fifty lectures that followed. Britta was a kind and gentle soul who supported Jim his entire life as a craftsman. She will be dearly missed by all those fortunate enough to know her.
“I made one object at a time because of the wood, because of the tools, with a certain idea and hope, and somehow these objects won friends and gradually, gradually, my confidence and experience increased. But for a very long time, it was touch and go. Even now, although people may think that I’ve got it made and things are going fine, even now I am only carrying my end of the plank. Someone else who is sharing life with me and has believed from the beginning in what I am trying to do is carrying the other end of that plank.” - James Krenov A Cabinetmakers Notebook
The above quote was taken from A Cabinetmakers Notebook. Jim wrote it in recognition of Britta, who supported Jim his entire life as a craftsman. I read this passage at the presentation of my first piece at the College of the Redwoods in honour of my soul mate, my partner in life and work, who has been with me my entire life as a craftsman. At the end of each term, I ask one of our students to read the passage, in honour of all those who support us in our life and work. This term, Yvonne had to step well outside her comfort zone and take on many new responsibilities at the school, including delivering JK's lectures. I felt it only fitting, that I read the passage myself in honour of Yvonne and Caroline's work in my absence.
As I sit at the front bench preparing myself for our summer term, and reflect back over the past few months, I am filled with a deep sense of gratitude. I suspect by now, some of you are wondering about my absence and why I am listed as Advisor this past term. At the end of February, on a beautiful spring day, my world came crashing down around me when I suffered a heart attack. The surgery went well, and In the months that followed I would walk an average of 100 kilometres a week, sit for two hours of meditation a day and attend regular yoga classes with our friends upstairs at Yoga by the Sea. This time away from the school has given me the opportunity to heal both physically and emotionally; to take the time to look within, to grieve and to let go of an old friend, and the regrets that have haunted me for nearly eight years.
While still in the hospital in Vancouver, Yvonne and Caroline met with the students, and the decision was made to continue on with the term in my absence. I was in daily contact with Caroline, who took the reins of the program and did an admirable job, with students in each of our four programs. I feel so fortunate for her friendship and feel so blessed to have such a compassionate soul as a co-teacher. In the summer term, Caroline will take a well deserved sabbatical to travel.
In the final weeks of the spring term, I began to take weekly visits from the students in my workshop and eventually made my way back to the school and was able to give Yvonne and Caroline a few mornings of rest. The time away has reminded me just how important teaching is to me, and has allowed me to rediscover my passion for the craft, teaching and our small school. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the entire school's family, and remind you that our school not only exists for you, but because of you.
With so much gratitude,