1. Tell us about your background. Where are you from?
I’m from Cape Town, South Africa and I have been in BC, Canada now for 15 years. I have a background in Fine Arts and Design and have recently graduated from the Fine Furniture Program offered at Camosun College in Victoria BC.
2. Why woodworking? This is not a typical profession for women, what made you decide this is for you?
It’s funny I never really thought that I couldn’t do woodworking because I am a woman. I found my passion while exploring the fine arts and its’ different mediums ranging from oil painting to ceramics to sculpture. It was actually in a sculpture class that I got to use a table saw for the first time and I was absolutely hooked. I also chose woodworking, because, call me practical, but I wanted people to use my art on a daily basis. I wanted people to run their hand along a freshly finished hand-rubbed table top or sit in a curvy chair that fits your back just so. I think the face of woodworking is changing and all I have to do is look in the mirror. Many more women are getting out into the workshop and are not afraid to jump in and turn on the router or the table saw. A diamond necklace is not the only gift to give to a woman on anniversaries anymore 🙂
3. Why did you decide to go into book writing along with your woodworking?
I was given this amazing opportunity to put all my thoughts and processes onto about 200 pages and I jumped at the chance. Writing is another outlet for me to explore this wonderful medium and to share it with other people and at the same time learn a few things myself. I just feel overwhelmed with pride when I get a heartfelt message from someone who has bought my book and is enjoying it and actually putting it to work.
4. Tell us about the process you went through to write Simply Wood.
Since I had to cover so much over the pages of the book I had to come up with an organization tool just to keep my sanity and the deadline in my sights. Since this was also my first attempt at writing a how-to book, I really had no idea of where to start, so it did get a little overwhelming at some points. The first thing I did was bring out my 18″ x 24″ sketch pad and draw out columns and boxes on what I now call my legend, and I just started putting all the projects, ideas and patterns in these boxes. Since I am also such a visual person I actually printed miniature versions of each pattern and taped them to the corresponding box to see how everything would lay out. I also taped my legend to the wall, so that I could see it everyday and make changes as needed. As for the in-progress photography, I came up with a visual story board, to ensure that I have completed all the steps needed for each project. This was a tremendous aide to keep everything organized and on schedule.
5. What is your favorite project in this book and why?
I would have to say my favorite project in the book is the magnet board project in the office accessory section. I love it because I brought 2 very dissimilar materials together and I think it turned out quite well. I’m always on the look-out for new materials that I can combine with wood or just to cut on the scroll saw.
6. What do you think is the most challenging project in the book and why?
I think the most challenging and most time consuming project in the book would have to be the accent lamp project. Although the joinery I use is quite simple, it must be precise for all the pieces to fit and there are many pieces to deal with. I also think most people would be a little intimidated when it comes to wiring a lamp, but it is easier than you think. With a little patience and organization I am sure anyone can have a successful outcome…and a gorgeous lamp to be proud of at the end.
7. What would you tell someone who wanted to get started in woodworking?
If you do want to get into woodworking, start with using a few basic hand tools to really get the feel for it. I started out with just some chisels, a mitre box and handsaw and a hand drill. I made a much needed coffee table with just these tools about 9 years ago and it is still standing and getting used everyday.
8. What challenges have you had working in a career dominated by men?
I have been very fortunate that I have not had any major issues or challenges so far. Although, I think as a woman in woodworking you have to work twice as hard to prove that you are just as good or even better in some cases than the guy next to you. At woodworking school I proved to be a worthy peer among the men in the class and at the end of it we had and still have a great respect for each other.
9. What advice do you have for those of us who are going to try to do some of your project?
Please, if it doesn’t work out the first time, try again. Patience is key. And also prepare for each and every project. Gather your tools and materials and always have your cutting list on hand…and this is very important… also know where your pencil is at all times! 🙂
10. What is your favorite part of woodworking?
I would have to say cutting the joinery and as you bring the two mating pieces together and it fits like a glove…wow that is a great feeling! But overall I would have to say the process of designing…from a scroll saw pattern to a piece of furniture.
11. What is the most challenging project you have take on?
The most challenging project would have to be the chair I made for my graduation from the Fine Furniture Program. It had very strict design guidelines. For example, it had to be shippable and fit a certain box size. If it went over and beyond those dimensions you had to make it so that it could be taken apart and be shipped that way. It also had weight constraints and material usage limitations. And of course I had designed my chair with tapered curves and very difficult dovetail joinery that landed on those curves. I call it my “Chou” chair. The word Chou is the Kanji or Japanese translation for butterfly. This name is fitting because of all the double dovetail or better known as butterfly joinery I use in the chair. I am still so amazed at the outcome and also of the sheer fact that I have completed such a challenging project in a very short amount of time. That’s the beauty of working with wood… you always find new ways to amaze yourself.
Now just some fun questions
Night owl or Early Bird?
Cake or Cookies?
Coke or Pepsi?
Coke all the way!
Summer or Winter?
Black or White?
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and shed some new light on woodworking for my readers! I wish you the best of luck on all of the project you undertake.