Shane Brown — Sydney, Australia

I completed the artisan program in 2012. I have always been someone who was interested in woodworking but had never spent enough time practicing to get really good at cabinetmaking. I was also alone in my craft and wasn’t aware of what was required to get the kind of results I achieved at the course at Inside Passage. I have a busy job in Australia as the director of a charity helping children and young people in Sydney and after many years in the position decided to take an extended break to follow that passion. I searched online and found Inside Passage; I emailed Yvonne the schools administrator to find out more about the program. I was worried about whether I would qualify for the course. She assured me that I would be fine and that there were people at different skills level attending and I would be able to complete the work. She was right and I felt very confortable in the classroom.

Yvonne also sent me an accommodation list of people in Roberts Creek who are happy to rent a room, I contacted a local and stayed in a beautiful house at a very reasonable cost that was two minutes from the College. I am still in contact with some local people; two visited me in Australia recently.

Robert Van Norman the Resident Craftsman and Teacher made me feel valued and respected as a student and was always willing to help me fix mistakes Id made, “not that I made that many mistakes”.

The course changed my understanding of the craft and I learned so much about how to sharpen tools, appreciate timber and its qualities, use hand tools and machinery and produce a beautiful piece of furniture. It was intensive and very instructive with Robert demonstrating every step of the way. As I said other students were at different skills levels and we often worked in teams, this helped me to build confidence in the work.

Apart from the new skills I learned I also made new friends in the course and am in contact with some of my fellow students to this day. Robert and Yvonne made me welcome and I am deeply indebted to their kindness support and friendship. Roberts Creek is a beautiful place in the forest and on the sea. The experience did change my life and I know that I will return to the School one day for further study.

Now that I’m back in Sydney I have begun to build a number of pieces of furniture including a side table and two chairs. I am also designing a series of pencil cases in Jarrah a native Australian timber.