Two days down, and already the Summer School has been a really engaging and enlightening experience. This is not only because of the practical tutorials in marquetry design that we have been kept busy with since Sunday, but mainly and quite simply, because it has given us all an opportunity to mix with other craft and design enthusiasts; each with their own approach and background of experiences.
This was clearly demonstrated on Sunday, as William Warren- one the master craftsmen helping to conduct the week- encouraged us to experiment with the selection of veneers they had to offer: Cocobola, Macassar Ebony, Brown Oak, Rippled Sycamore, Eucalyptus. We walked between the eight workbenches to see what each of us had sampled. Will explained that there are a variety of functions that a surface design can be utilised for. Some examples from this year’s summer school are a chessboard for a games table, a design that is a tool for educating people about different timber grains, or an image that is a means of story telling. It was really interesting to observe how each of us assumed a different approach to formulating a design; some of us took to drawing, whereas others preferred to play and create samples.
After hearing Johnathon Rose suggest a coat of arms as a traditional choice for a marquetry design, I instantly thought of the THIS GIRL MAKES logo. My tabletop design therefore features the strong image of the land girl gripping her bicep confidently whilst holding a number five plane. I thought this was appropriate as it communicates the story of how I come to be a part of the LINLEY Summer School 2017 and also represents all of the inspirational female makers that I have come to know throughout my furniture education; including my two female colleagues, Poppy Booth and Lily Dean, who join me on the summer school this year. The exercise was successful in teaching me more about the intricate nature of marquetry, as it requires the creativity of graphic design, but the technical knowledge of wood as a material and the patience and precision required for using a scalpel.
I admit- I sometimes find it hard to take on board feedback, particularly if I have already thrown myself deep into a project and am perhaps half-way through a task. So when Will suggested a new way of working to me- to draw directly onto the table top, away from the safety of sketchbook pages- I was a bit apprehensive. However, this week is completely for trying new things and learning from each other. I had to accept Will’s constructive feedback again, when he suggested making amendments to my design, and despite the fact I was close to completing it, I decided I would follow his advice. This demonstrated to me that I am definitely still very immature with regards to some of my design practises, and the lesson that was learnt is that it is never too late to improve on the work we are doing. We should take ourselves up on any opportunity to improve our efforts.
My roommate for the week is Poppy Booth, who funnily enough featured on the THIS GIRL MAKES blog earlier this year. Spending time with her has really made me reflect on the way design influences our lives. We spent the first evening chatting about our families and summer holidays, and as I watched her empty her wicker weekend-bag and start to hang up her clothes, she explained that the majority of her clothes are handmade. She has with her a small selection of blue and red corduroy and linen fabrics, most of them homemade or vintage. This is just one example of the way Poppy’s lifestyle is sustainable and creative. It seems very conscious and personalized and has made me reflect on my own routines and rituals. The energy she gives off not only through craft, but to the people around her has given me new outlook for going into my third year and continuing a career in craft; where my priorities should lie and what lessons there are still to be learnt.