Every time I approach a task or a problem, it is second nature for me to take a fresh piece of A4 and sketch out the situation and explore potential resolutions. I am not sure where or when I acquired this technique, it was certainly long before I got into woodworking, probably when my world revolved around Footrot Flats and Jolliffe, and I fancied myself as a future cartoonist. Working away in my bedroom, I constructed my own characters, quasi versions of Wal, Cooch and Salt Bush Bill, and as we lived on a working cattle and pig farm, I found endless inspiration for my day to day tales of farm life from the world around me.

“Woodworking has become abundantly more accessible to the average enthusiast with woodworking schools and maker spaces”

Vic Tesolin hand sketch
Cherry side table by Vic Tesolin

Initial hand sketch and Cherry side table detail by Vic Tesolin

I learned a couple of very important design skills during that time. Besides the fundamental skill of how to draw both creatively and technically, I learned to use drawings to construct a visual picture of an idea as a whole, and as a sum of its parts. With my farm-yard characters I would first draw them as an individual, front on, side on and what they were wearing or would need that day. I would then place my character in a scenario with another character that I had built up using the same process – from here they could interact and tell a story. This process could also be done in reverse, create a scenario first, and then deconstruct that scenario and create the individual characters required to tell the story. I had taught myself to realise and resolve an idea through a design process, and I learned this process through appropriation. My farm yard stories were original and relevant to me, however my characters and the scenarios I created were really just appropriations of other people’s work, and I used their “templates” as the foundations of my story telling. Over time and through repetition, I developed my own design process and techniques, and was able to move away from others influence on a pathway to originality. In retrospect, my comics were pretty average, but my Mum thought they were great.

When it came to woodworking, right from the start I had little interest in building other people’s designs. I had acquired a few hand skills from my Father working on the farm, my Grandfather had taught me how to turn. I thought as soon as I could make a joint well enough so it would hold together, I would start to design and build my own furniture. But without any formal design training – where to start? I bought a copy of Sam Maloof’s Woodworker biography and studied every page, in particular the way Sam designed and built a rocking chair which is detailed throughout the book. I appropriated this process and started building my own chairs – simple. Well in reality it wasn’t simple, and I am no Sam Maloof, and in hindsight I should have probably spend a few more years building my foundation skills before heading off into the world as a self-employed chairmaker – but these are things you do. The additional challenge back in the early nineties was finding convenient opportunities to learn design and solid timber woodworking techniques. I didn’t know any woodworkers, the Internet didn’t really exist, and it was hard enough just trying to buy decent tools.

Reed Hansuld Chair design development
Reed Hansuld Chair design development

Chair design development and prototypes by Reed Hansuld

Today things are very different. Woodworking has become abundantly more accessible to the average enthusiast with woodworking schools and maker spaces popping up everywhere supported by all types of media both digital and print. With most providers focused on a “how to make a thing” based curriculum however, the opportunity to learn solid design skills from practicing designer makers remains a relatively rare commodity. As I experienced, emerging makers and enthusiasts are often left to their own devices, and face frustration on the pathway to reach their design and woodworking goals.

Wood Dust Designer Maker offers a range of three, two and one-day design and woodworking Masterclasses to guide makers and enthusiast woodworkers to develop and master sound design for woodworking skills. Featured teaching designer makers are Brooklyn NY based designer and chair maker Reed Hansuld, and Vic Tesolin, craftsman, educator and author from Canada.

Reed will host a three-day Masterclass where participants will be led through a series of workshops and critiques to develop a resolved chair design. The focus will be developing strategies for working through the ergonomic, structural and aesthetic considerations of designing a seating object. Vic will also host a three-day Masterclass that will equip participants with techniques for developing their own fundamental design skills and processes flexible enough to approach a number of woodworking and furniture design challenges. Vic will encourage you to use your “creative license”, a license that we all have but don’t always know how to tap into.

Wood Dust Masterclasses are an intensive experience where participants may absorb and practice a range of design and woodworking skills in a convenient and professional environment. The extra advantage of a Wood Dust Masterclass is that you spend time with a teacher who offers all the dimensions of a great woodworking experience: expertise, experience, passion and a fundamental love for the craft. Along with your Masterclass colleagues, you have the opportunity of a physical, intellectual and emotional woodworking learning experience.

Masterclasses at Wood Dust Designer Maker are now on sale

Held over four days in August, at Melbourne’s newest makerspace FAB9 in Footscray, Wood Dust Designer Maker explores the art of design for woodworking and the processes of fine craftsmanship to realise the designs intent. Wood Dust Designer Maker offers a full suite of Masterclasses with leading designer makers including David Haig from New Zealand, Reed Hansuld from Brooklyn New York, Vic Tesolin from Canada, Carol Russell and Ross Annels from Queensland and Melbourne’s own Bern Chandley and Adam Markowitz. Demand will be high so check out the range of Wood Dust Masterclasses today.

Start planning your Wood Dust Designer Maker experience now by checking out our Masterclasses
For enquires on Masterclasses or the Weekend at Wood Dust please contact us at hello@wooddustaustralia.com
Wood Dust Designer Maker
Held at FAB9
August 8th – 11th 2019
90 Maribyrnong St
Footscray, Melbourne VIC

Fine Woodworking is a proud sponsor and media partner of Wood Dust Designer Maker 2019. For more than 40 years Fine Woodworking has been teaching, inspiring, and connecting with a passionate audience of woodworkers.