ALASTAIR BOELL (Australia)
Alastair Boell was awarded a Bachelor of Education (Arts and Crafts) at Melbourne University, majoring in ‘Furniture Making’ in 1990. A month after graduating, he moved to Japan, where he taught English and made furniture for his own pleasure for eight years. While living there, he became heavily influenced by the Japanese design aesthetic.
In 2003, Alastair travelled to Boston, in the USA , where he studied furniture making at the world-renowned North Bennet Street School . This school specializes in 18th and 19th Century hand skills. He is the first Australian to have graduated from this school. During his two years in the USA he also helped to restore an old diner and took part in a traditional barn raising.
Alastair returned to Australia in 2005. This same year, Alastair won ‘The Carba-Tec Award for Craftsmanship’ at the ‘Touchwood Exhibition in 2005’. He has also appeared on the front cover of the 49th issue of ‘The Australian Wood Review’ magazine. In 2006, Alastair was chosen to exhibit his work in the ‘Masters Exhibition at the Timber Working with Wood Show’. Alastair also won ‘The Box Making Award’ for his toolbox at the ‘Timber Working with Wood Show in 2007.’
In 2008, Alastair completed his dream of establishing a workshop and school – ‘The Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking’.
At the age of sixteen years old, Lionel began his Cabinet Making apprenticeship in Nancy, France. The first few years of this 10 year course was dedicated to unique handwork skills.
After three years as an apprentice and as a part of the course structure, Lionel then travelled to various towns and workshops, and over a period of eight years, he learned the diverse techniques and specialities in cabinetry. During this time Lionel had the opportunity to work in England for one year in a fine bespoke furniture workshop near Oxford.
In 2008 Lionel was awarded his ‘Masters in Cabinet Making’ in Reims, France. He then undertook a teaching role at his school for 2 years where he taught 16 apprentices in order to achieve their first Cabinet Making Diploma.
Mainly passionate by transferring his knowledge of traditional French woodworking and marquetry techniques, Lionel also believes that in this fast world of production it is sometimes important to stop and take the time to use, share and enjoy these old-style techniques when working with such a pure and fine material such as timber.
JOHN WATERS (Australia)
John commenced training as a cabinet-maker and soon after moved into timber furniture making. By completing a full-time course in fine furniture making at Coles School of Woodcraft, John continued to build upon his design and construction skills by gaining experience across the industry. Over a 15-year period, he has worked with traditional and contemporary furniture-makers, including Ramons Fine Furniture, Thomas Gannon, Mark Tuckey and Charles Sandford. Through his participation with the Victorian Woodworkers Association, John developed in-depth knowledge and wide network of colleagues and resources.
In 2000, John ventured into his own business, Roseadora. Specialising in custom design/making of contemporary furniture, the repertoire included: boardroom tables for law offices (Robinson Gill Lawyers, Klaus Mueller); architectural collaborations for residential/commercial fit-outs (Co-Lab Architects); stand-alone commissions for institutions (City of Melbourne, Royal Children’s Hospital, University of Melbourne); and numerous private residential projects of varying scales (exterior and interior building features). John’s commitment to detail in design conception and follow through with handcrafted skills was acknowledged in awarding the 2008 Victorian Premier’s Design Award for the ‘Trinity Buffet’, and ABAF Springboard Program.
In 2009, John travelled with Alastair to the USA, attending the American Furniture Makers Conference, and visiting the workshops of George Nakashima and Wharton Esherick. Whilst there, he undertook a one-on-one course for a week with Peter Galbert to make the Windsor chair. Continuously expanding his interests, skills and knowledge, John has competed a workshop with Silas Kopf (USA) in marquetry/parquetry veneer(2012); Certificate IV Building (2013); and employment in a joinery company (2015). Currently, John is building a traditional Scottish yacht, ‘Arctic Turn‘ designed by Iian Oughtred.
Once Shinobu completed high school in Japan, he came to Australia to study design in a native English environment. He studied graphic & industrial design for five years at a technical college in Western Australia. After he completed his course is WA, he moved to Melbourne where he worked in the furniture and timber industry for 6 years.
After this period, he joined the MGFW as a student with Alastair Boell as his instructor. During this time, he became increasingly interested in traditional woodworking & hand skills.
After couple of years, he applied for the Capellagården, Sweden. It is a well known traditional craft school in Sweden, Denmark & Japan. The founder of the school, Carl Malmsten (who is known as a ‘Godfather’ of Swedish furniture) is also known as James Krenov’s woodworking teacher.
In 2013, Shinobu was accepted by the master craftsman of the school and started learning Swedish & Nordic style woodworking. Shinobu was one of the four new students who was accepted into the school that year, from hundreds of applicants from all over the world. At the end of that year, he won the ‘Design & Craftsmanship’ award in Sweden.
In 2014, he also attended the College of the Redwoods as an exchange student from Capellagården and learnt the ‘Krenov’ style of woodworking. Shinobu officially became the only Japanese craftsman who learnt their passion & philosophy of woodworking of Carl Malmsten & James Krenov,.
After his US woodworking journey, he came back to his mother country Japan, and got opportunity to become an apprentice of designated traditional master craftsperson. During this time, he had experienced the art of traditional handcraft & Japanese joinery “Sashimono” skills and techniques.
He then returned to Sweden in 2015, and took the national craftsman’s exam called “Gesäll’, which is known to be one of the most difficult examinations for skilled craftsman in Nordic countries. There were two different sections for the exam, drawing and making actual furniture. It normally it takes about a year to finish this exam. He designed and crafted a ‘coffee wagon cabinet’ for his exam where his final results were 4.98 points out of 5.00!! He officially received the Silver Medal from the Kingdom of Sweden in 2016.
During the same year, he was involved in the Danish Woodworking Association in Copenhagen, where he prepared his piece for the group exhibition for the National Gallery of Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Japan with world-top skilled woodworkers, including royal craftsman in Denmark.
He is now finally back in Australia again and ready to share his newly acquired woodworking skills. His dream is to interact with as many people as possible and to pass on the beautiful traditional techniques that he has accumulated throughout his incredible journey from around the world!
Jon has a strong commitment to creativity, craftsmanship and the fulfilment that these processes bring to those who engage in them. Having been a teacher in trade training for over 20 years he has a strong background in teaching and learning, and has experienced firsthand what a great platform for learning craftsmanship can be.
Jon’s work reflects the simple principles of Shaker philosophy, design and integrity and he works as much as possible using only hand tools. He is an experienced woodturner and 40 years on he still turns on the lathe he built as a young man in high school.
His love of Windsor Chair Making has recently led him to spend time in the United States working with some of the masters of the craft and developing his skills in order to share this with woodworkers here in Australia.
Making Windsor Chairs aligns with all of Jon’s philosophies around craftsmanship in that each piece is unique and handcrafted, the tools you use are particular to the craft and often handmade themselves, and you gain a deep connection with the unique characteristics of the timbers you work with.
Jon values the privilege of living in Tasmania and having beautiful and unique timbers to work with and is currently working on exploring which Tasmanian timbers lend themselves to making Windsor Chairs.
Christopher Schwarz is a long-time woodworker and writer who has spent the last 15 years encouraging woodworkers to embrace more handwork in their shops. He built his first workbench when he was 11 and was introduced to handwork when his family built its first house on an Arkansas farm without electricity.
After formal training as a journalist at Northwestern University, Chris worked as a newspaperman by day and studied woodworking at night at the University of Kentucky. In 1996, he was hired as managing editor of Popular Woodworking, where he helped resuscitate the magazine and introduced more handwork into its pages. He eventually became editor and began writing books and teaching woodworking classes.
In 2007 he founded Lost Art Press LLC, a publishing company devoted to one thing: reviving handwork. By 2011, Lost Art Press had grown so much that Chris stepped down as editor of Popular Woodworking (he’s now a contributing editor) to focus on his company full time.
He’s the author of several woodworking books, including “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” “Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use,” “The Workbench Design Book,” “Handplane Essentials,” and “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker.” He also has produced six DVDs on handwork with Lie-Nielsen Toolworks. He lives in Fort Mitchell, Ky., with his wife and two daughters.
RAFAEL BEIBER (Australia)
Rafael Bieber has had an interest in visual arts from a young age encouraged by his family. This soon opened a broader vision and curiousity of the world, enabling him to appreciate different cultures, periods, mediums and styles of art.
Since the mid 1980’s Rafael has been an avid amateur photographer, which soon led to the learning of picture framing in Warnambool. He has continued to work in this field in Melbourne ever since, where he taught his craft to adults. He has also helped numerous customers with design and styles best suited to their needs.
TERRY GORDON (Australia)
As a child Terry Gordon always enjoyed woodwork. He found it easy to learn and felt very pleased when he made things out of wood, always believing that he was destined to be involved with working with wood. When he was married he needed furniture, so he decided to make his own. This is where he learned the basics of making furniture, using books and what he had learnt at school.
During his fifteen years in the RAAF, he managed to make all the furniture for his home and as a result, the quality slowly improved. During a 3 year posting in Malaysia, he learned how to wood carve and how to use wooden planes with a local cabinet maker. These skills took his woodwork to another level and started his career in tool making. In essence, he discovered that the planes that this particular Chinese cabinet maker was using were superior to the Western planes. Therefore, he had decided to make his own. Other people appreciated them and the rest is history.
Over the 20 years of making planes, he has also incorporated their use in the furniture he makes for his family. In particular the use of Joinery planes and Hollows and Rounds. These planes that he now makes, has added another aspect and level of quality to his furniture. During his last three years in the RAAF, he was teaching navigation and these skills have come in handy in recent years, as teaching opportunities have come his way. He feels fortunate to have acquired some unique woodworking skills and is very pleased to be able to share them through teaching at the Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking.
TOM FIDGEN (Canada)
Tom Fidgen is a designer/maker author, musician, living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Tom has written for Fine Woodworking Magazine, Popular Woodworking Magazine, Canadian Woodworking Magazine, Furniture & Cabinet Making Magazine, British Woodworking Magazine, as well as the Lee Valley Tools Newsletter.
His first book, Made by Hand – Furniture Projects from the Unplugged Woodshop (2009-F&W Media) was the top selling wood working book of 2010 and is regarded as; “The definitive book of how to build woodworking projects using hand tools” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6nON0oejgg
His much anticipated follow-up, The Unplugged Woodshop – Hand Crafted Projects for the Home and Workshop, was released with The Taunton Press in September 2013, and has received critical acclaim.
Tom is the owner and head Instructor at The Unplugged Woodshop - Toronto, a School, Store, Maker Space and Studio located in downtown Toronto.
Tom teaches woodworking with hand tools both Nationally and Internationally.
HANK TYLER (USA)
Mr. Tyler is an internationally known sculptor of birds in wood. He began realistic sculpture of birds in 1960 under the guidance of Charles G. Chase. Early exhibits included: MacKenzie Gallery in Brunswick, Maine in 1961 – Best of the Show, Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, Maine in 1971 – One Man Show. Ogunquit Art Center, Ogunquit, Maine in 1977 – Special Merit Award.
Mr. Tyler is a founding member of The Society for Wildlife Art for the Nation (UK), and has been invited to exhibit in “Birds in Art” at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin in 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1991, 1995, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2012, and 2016. In 1995, Mr. Tyler was awarded the Society of Animal Artists’ Award of Excellence for “Resting for the Day.”
Having grown up on Maine’s coast, shorebirds and oceanic birds are Tyler’s most consistently chosen subjects. The designs and proportions of Tyler’s bird sculptures are generally reflective of the actual birds and their behaviours.
Articles and photographs of Mr. Tyler’s sculpture have appeared in Fine Woodworking Biennial Design Book (1977), Natural World , UK (1986), Wildlife Art News (1995) featuring Mr. Tyler’s work, and Wildfowl Carving Competition (2000); Wildlife Art (2004) Spotlight.
Since 2000, Tyler has created artistically designed spoons, spatulas and knives out of a variety of hardwoods.
Mr. Tyler was educated as a zoologist and oceanographer, and devoted his professional life to conservation issues in the State of Maine. He is well known for protection efforts for rare plants, old-growth forests and ecologically significant habitats. He has been active in many non-profit conservation organizations including national president of the Natural Areas Association.
Tyler is co-founder of Art for Nature – Nepal that held its first wildlife art symposium in December 2015.
DES KING (Brisbane, Australia)
A former Australian Army officer, Des first came into contact with the Japanese culture when he was selected to
attend a 12-month intensive Japanese language course at the then RAAF School of Languages at Point Cook in
1974. In 1978 he was sent to Japan by the Army for advanced Japanese language studies, consisting of one year
at the United States Department of State Foreign Service Institute in Yokohama, and one year in the Office of the
Military Attaché at the Australian Embassy.
Des left the Army at the end of 1986, eventually moving to Tokyo to live, and work as a free-lance Japanese-
English translator. He continued translating business after his return to Australia.
Woodworking had been growing into an increasingly serious hobby for quite some time, and in April 2008, Des
began a 12-month post-graduate course in tategu (production and fitting of doors and windows, and especially
shoji) at the International College of Craft and Art (Shokugei Gakuin) in Toyama, Japan. The course was entirely
in Japanese, and comprised mostly practical work, with only a limited amount of theoretical studies. After
building the foundation in making shoji, Des turned his focus to the intricate patterns that can be made by
kumiko within shoji. This became the central theme of his work.
After completing the course in March 2009, Des returned to Australia and set up a workshop in the Gold Coast.
Des has published three books on making shoji and kumiko patterns, and is currently writing and making
patterns for his fourth book.
STEVE LATTA (USA)
Steve Latta makes both contemporary and traditional furniture while teaching woodworking at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology and Millersville University in Lancaster County, PA.
For the past several years, Steve has been a contributing editor to Fine Woodworking magazine and has released several videos on inlay and furniture construction. He has lectured at Colonial Williamsburg, The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, and Winterthur Museum as well as numerous other schools and guilds.
Working in conjunction with Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, he helped develop and market a set of contemporary inlay tools. When not in the shop, Steve can be found on his motorcycle, hiking in the woods with his lab, Neesa, or cuddled up with a good book. He lives with his wife, Elizabeth, in rural Pennsylvania with their children, Fletcher, Sarah and Grace nearby.
VERONICA SEXTON (Ireland)
Veronica Sexton was born in County Cork, Ireland, in 1970. She moved to England in 1988, and there, assisted by a grant from the Leche Trust, obtained her Higher Diploma and Graduateship in Woodcarving and Gilding at the City and Guilds of London Art School in 1994. She won the coveted William Wheeler Prize for Outstanding Work and was part of a selected group of artisans chosen to work on the five year restoration of Windsor Castle which had been severely damaged by fire. Since then she has worked on a number of commissions in Malaysia, Ireland, England, USA and Australia.
Since arriving in Australia six years ago Ronnie has allowed her strict classical training in Gothic, Baroque and Rococo woodcarving to evolve into a more relaxed, freer-flowing style. Ronnie predominantly works from salvaged timber from trees in the Dandenong Ranges that have blown down or have died a natural death.
With a family background in upholstery and restoration, Eddy’s lifelong association with antiques has strongly influenced his belief that quality furniture can and should be given a second chance, brought back to life, and put to practical and aesthetic use. In contrast to today’s throwaway society, Eddy takes a conservation approach to restoring furniture in a way that maintains the integrity, history and character of each piece that he works with.
Eddy is a qualified furniture restorer with 16 years’ experience. While he specialises in French polishing furniture of all styles and periods, he has a particular interest in English, French, Italian and Australian furniture of the early and late Victorian period. At 32 years old, Eddy is one of the younger generation of French polishers who is reviving this traditional method by applying it to contemporary and bespoke furniture.
In addition to his professional interest in furniture restoration, Eddy is honing his woodworking skills by handcrafting chairs in the modern style, as well as restoring jukeboxes and motorbikes in his spare time.