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International fine woodworking school for Nelson

Two leading New Zealand furniture makers have launched a fine woodworking school that aims to attract students from all over the world. The woodworkers are world-renowned furniture makers John Shaw and David Haig, who will also be the school's main tutors.

The Centre for Fine Woodworking is based in a scenic rural location at Wakapuaka, near the arts and crafts mecca of Nelson. Private funding for the school has come from one of John Shaw's ex-woodworking students, Andrew Bruce, a Scot who recently settled in the area.

"To be a world class designer and craftsman as well as a fine tutor is an extremely rare combination," says Andrew. "To have a school with two tutors of that calibre, in a location like Nelson, is an amazing opportunity."

The school, which will have small class sizes to ensure a high level of student/tutor contact, opens in November with a two week course for beginners, designed to develop the fundamental hand and machine skills for woodworking.

Other courses include a six week intermediate level course and an eight month advanced course. The latter, 'Comprehensive Furniture-Making', is designed to equip students with all the necessary skills to undertake the most complex of woodworking challenges.

"We're already getting enrolments despite minimal publicity," says Andrew Bruce. "I guess that shows what a draw John and David are ­ opportunities to learn from craftsmen of this quality are very few and far between."

Tutor John Shaw has been a studio furniture maker and fine woodworking tutor for 25 years. He studied at Rycotewood in the UK and with James Krenov at the College of the Redwoods in California.

"I love teaching in a workshop situation," says John. "The banter, the atmosphere, the sounds and smells ­ and people motivated and excited by the materials. When I was approached with the idea of setting up a world-class fine woodworking school in Nelson, I jumped at the chance. The fact that David Haig will be the other tutor, is the cherry on the icing."

Co-tutor David Haig is one of New Zealand's most successful furniture designer-makers. He designed and still builds the internationally-renowned 'Signature' rocking chair. Since 2001, has been invited to the USA to teach at the prestigious Centre For Furniture Craftsmanship, at Rockport in Maine.

"Putting ideas across, and seeing people's abilities blossom is an intensely rewarding process," says David. "And to work with John Shaw will be a great pleasure, John and I share a similar sense of what works in wood. We talked for years about setting up a school in Nelson and now it's about to become a reality!"

Andrew Bruce concluded, "To be able to make a piece of furniture that turns out exactly as you visualised it ­ the school will provide students with the basis to do just that. It's not necessarily a vocational course ­ but for many it will be the acquisition of a life-enhancing skill."

ENDS


Background information

John Shaw has been a studio furniture maker and fine woodworking tutor for 25 years. He studied at Rycotewood in the UK and with James Krenov at the College of the Redwoods in California as a Fulbright scholar. John was the winner of the Weyerhaeuser Studio Furniture Awards in 2000. John's recent work includes a lectern for Nelson Cathedral and outdoor seating for the new Nelson Visitor Centre.

David Haig was born in Malaysia in 1955. Educated in England, he moved to New Zealand in 1976. For the past 20 years he has been one of New Zealand's most successful furniture designer-makers. In 1990 he built the first of his now internationally renowned Signature rocking chairs. Since 2001, has been invited to the USA to teach at the prestigious Centre For Furniture Craftsmanship, at Rockport in Maine.

Centre for Fine Woodworking
http://www.centre-for-fine-woodworking.co.nz/

Course Dates:

Level 1 (Basic) ­ Beginning Cabinet-Making
6th - 17th November 2006
27th November - 8th December 2006

Level 2 (Intermediate) - Core Woodworking Techniques
15th January ­ 23rd February 2007

Level 3 (Advanced) - Comprehensive Furniture-Making
5th March ­ 26th October 2007

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