This past weekend, September 20th and 21st, we did something a little special. Since we had so many really great students this year through our school that made so many tremendous projects, we decided to hold a finishing class that was open solely to our alumni. And what a gathering it was.
We opened the doors early on Saturday morning in anticipation of seeing some of the great folk we have come to know here at the Acanthus Workshop. The crowd began to gather. We cut off registration for this class at nine people. For us, that’s a huge class but we figured with so much of the participants time being spent watching finish dry, we could adequately get to everyone throughout the day. My wife Lorraine, who does most of the finishing in the cabinet shop, helped out greatly throughout the weekend.
Some of the participants knew others in the group from classes they had taken together while others didn’t know anyone. If your faith in humanity is ever shaken, attend a gathering of woodworkers (Acanthus Workshop alumni in particular) and your faith will be renewed. Each and every person attending the class this weekend jumped right in and made friends with every other attendee. Woodworkers are, without a doubt, the best people on the face of the planet.
I hesitated to start the class promptly at 9 am because I really wanted there to be a bit of fellowship first. Without any encouragement from me, the crowd gathered and looked over everyone’s projects. The projects themselves ranged from mere sample boards to some pretty ellaborate pieces made in our classes. The idea was, if you took a class here this year you were welcome to bring the project you made in class, or any other project you had going and we would give you enough instruction to finish it during the weekend. The crowd was getting along so well at the start, I wasn’t sure they even noticed my presence. I certainly wasn’t sure how they’d take to the morning lecture. Well, after a few pots of coffee and lots of proctering, they managed to stay awake until lunch.
After lunch the fun really began. The class became an open free for all of prepping sample blocks and staining actual pieces of furniture. The place was a buzz with people trying to put in to practice all the things they had learned while sleeping through my lecture. Everyone had different ideas of where they wanted to go with their pieces. Some were trying to make sample boards just to see how to color different woods and how different finishes would look on the different species of wood. Others were trying to figure out the perfect color for their exquisitely made heirlooms. I guess the best way to illustrate what was going on is to show you. So, here’s a bit of a gallery of photos from the day.
With so many projects taking place at once, some people required a bit more of our time. It was great to see the rest of the people working together or socializing while we were tied up. Most of the time, people who were not being helped directly observed those that were soaking up all the little tips and tricks we were passing on.
All in all, I think it was a tremendous gathering of woodworkers. There’s always a good time to be had when woodworkers gather. Beyond the good time we all had, there were the projects. And what a great collection of projects they were.