With my return to teaching full time for the term, we felt it best to limit the intake. The small class size felt a bit like coming full circle for Yvonne and I. We both spent a lot of time reminiscing about the early years at the school, with just her and I and a few students.
With Caroline away on sabbatical, Yvonne took on a much more active role in the workshop. In addition to her office duties, she has taken on an teaching assistant role and machine maintenance at the school. Over the years, I have trained several people on the machines, however I don’t recall anyone taking it on with such enthusiasm and doing it so well. I can’t take much credit here, all the years working along side her father, a farmer and heavy duty mechanic, I think had something to do with it.
As a graduate of our Impractical Studies Program and having been with Robert his entire life as a craftsman, Yvonne has been involved countless assemblies. Yvonne is shown here with Marion during the first assembly of her chair.
Ron from Mission British Columbia completed his first term. He is shown with Marion during the assembly of his wabi sabi cabinet early on in the program. Ron, already a seasoned woodworker has taken his craft to a whole new level. Ron has an impressive collection of fine Japanese tools, many handed down to him by his wife Yuko’s family. His work is only out shined by his generosity, sending each of his classmates and teacher away with several pieces of special wood.
Andi and Marion served fine mentors to our first term students.
David from Scotland just completed his first term. I will always remember David as you see him here, at his bench. In all his time at the school, I only recall seeing him outside the school on two occasions. When I would arrive in the morning, leave in the evening or come in after yoga on Saturday and Sunday mornings this is where I would find him, at his bench. David took full advantage of twenty four hour a day, seven days a week access to the school. His incredible progress was influenced by his aesthetic sensibilities and architectural background however it was his focus and dedication to the craft that was most inspiring for me.
Marion from France just completed her third term of study. As I watched her gracefully (ok gracefully might be a strong word) remove the last of the protective wrapping of her chair, I reflected back on her inspiring progress as a craftsman. To think that when she visited the workshop a year ago, she joined us with no experience and just completed what Gary Kent, our relief teacher describes as one of the most challenging pieces he has made over all his years as a craftsman. We are very grateful to have the opportunity of working with this fine young craftsman at the beginning of her journey, and are very much looking forward to her return in November for two terms of our Composing program.
Andi from Germany just completed his third term, will be joining us for our Composing program for the fall and winter terms. Andi finished up his chair, in time to mockup his composing cabinet and has already cut veneers and rough milled for most of the large showcase cabinet in English brown oak. It will be a challenging piece filled with subtleties and complexities. As many of my students have found, having just built the chair instills their confidence as a craftsman. I suspect Andi is pressing the last of his lumber core as I write. Andi is a gentle soul, has a good eye and has developed wonderful hand skills since arriving at the school.
Refeal from Israel just completed his Residency, his seventh term at the school. There is no greater feeling of accomplishment for a teacher than watching one of their students abilities surpass their own. It has been a pleasure watchings Refeal grow as a craftsman and as an individual throughout his nearly two full years at the school. Throughout his time here, and even more so in his final two terms, he has served as a fine example to his peers.
In addition to teaching full time this term, I found myself at the school more after hours, and realized how much more I enjoy being at the school, when the machines are not in use. In the early years, I taught with the machines running six days a week. Several years ago we made the decision to drop Saturdays with the expectation that students would use the time to nurture their hand skills. At a year end exhibition, one of our alumni suggested, that the significantly reduced machine hours lead to greater productivity and an increase in quality. This fall term will mark my return to teaching Saturdays, but without the machines. While we have never neglected the use of machines at our school, there has always been a sensitive and sensible emphasis on the use of hand tools. The JK lecture and slideshow will also be moving to Saturday mornings at 9am making it easier for our alumni to join us, a trend that continues to grow.
In the Vipassana tradition of meditation, which I practice for an hour twice a day, metta is given at the end of each sitting. Metta is described as the transmittance of unconditional love and compassion. This fall my return to teach on Saturdays is the metta that I give to myself and to my students.
Be well and enjoy your work,