Chris Schwarz: Summer School at Rowden

The Chris Schwarz Summer School at Rowden.  This has been a blast. Chris Schwarz has been amazing, patient, calm and kind, when I might have been throwing clamps about.

I had hope it would be an event with lots of hard work and a few beers but I could not have hoped for the past two weeks. Great students from Rowden who took the challenge of working to our precise standards of workmanship, but quickly. For that is the nature of true skill and “Workwomanship”.  Accuracy with speed .  ( Boy do I hate the sexist nature of the language I am obliged to engage with. Two of our best and quickest students are women.)

Rose sticking together her sunburst

We also had a great group of guys who joined us from this e-mail list. When I advertised the summer school in November last year it was over subscribed in two days. You guys were great, all different, some with experience some with very little . My goal was that EVERYONE should go home with a finished chest and  smile on their face even if that meant one to one help for two weeks for a couple of you.

I don’t believe in classes that ignore the high achievers and let the less skilled fail. So we cut the topshop loose, this is where my senior students are, this was so they could work late and gallop ahead. At the other extreme we posted Ed, Jon and Daren to help those that were finding the pace a bit stressful.   Thanks to their huge effort I think we managed this.

Jon helping out Lewis

I had feared that we would all be too slow and anally retentive, and I would be the slowest. I have been a maker for nearly 40 years but i don’t do it every day. So I was worried. Chris sets a brisk pace and a high standard of making. I suggested that Rowden students who could not keep up could be chucked in the lake,just to encourage them. In the end it was me that feared a ducking to the extent that my assistant Rachel, who would miss Friday was asking to have a photo should that be the judgement of the mob. But I got away with it. I will post a shot of my lovely purple cabinet when I come back from holiday and finish it off.

Tool chest handles

But what did we have: A challenge that was just do able.  Veneering in two techniques. Hot glue to die for.  A Dovetailing Death March that was really a brisk walk with the dog. One of the worst curry nights in memory. “I would rather eat the glue in the workshop, especially if it had peas in it.” One of the best curries in North Devon the following night.  A sight of the seven litre V8 Mercedes formerly owned by James Hunt. Oh, and bit of really good work.

Cant do much thats worthwhile, without work .

Toodle oo..



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