Timber Industry and Education – A Team

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How do we get more young people into traditional industries? We have heard media coverage in the UK of our young people ‘not wanting to get their hands dirty’, and I do think that there is an element of our education system putting unrealistic aspirations into the minds of some of our students. It is not only impractical, but also costly to put them all through a university education. More than that, it is unnecessary. Our local colleges have an amazing amount to offer students, and we should encourage more colleges to offer more in the subject area of Woodworking. We have untapped talent in our students, some of them do not yet know it, and that is where industry and education MUST join in a partnership.

In 2000 I visited a senior tutor at Chichester College’s furniture department. I noticed several large signs from a competitor of ours, this company sponsored the woodwork department. It gave me the idea needed to start a long lasting relationship with the furniture department of Chichester College. Since 2000 we have been sponsoring the furniture department with materials. We regularly host visits at our Sawmills from Chichester college students, together with visits from other colleges and training establishments in the South, where we explain what is involved in taking a tree and converting it into a useable piece of timber, and all of the problems along the process. We explain what they should be looking for and considering when they buy timber. We feel that this relationship is an important part of the future of the Timber Industry as a whole. How else can we encourage potential stars to join one of the oldest industries in the world. It is important that our nations education system takes a different view on young people’s potential, they can’t all become .com millionaires, indeed a minuscule number of people worldwide ever achieve this level of financial success.

Along the timeline of our partnership with Chichester College, we started an additional sponsorship of a prize in the colleges annual prize giving for the construction department. So about 7 or 8 years ago the first W L West & Sons Ltd Best Furniture Newcomers prize was awarded. Over the years some of the students that have won this award have gone on to represent their college and country in the World Skills competition at a very high level. Now that truly is an accolade both for the students and the furniture department. Along the years they have had some extremely talented and dedicated tutors.

Just recently I again visited their end of year furniture show, they didn’t disappoint. Again the standard being produced in all of the years is amazing , not only in the quality of finish, but in the ideas. Where do they get the ideas from? Simply amazing. Every year the furniture department ‘raises the bar’ to use an Olympic term.  Recently the college finished In the top 10 of colleges nationally. This can only be as a result of top class tutors and visionary management.  Congratulations to Chichester College, long may it continue.

Don’t forget, for all of your hardwood and joinery softwood requirements…………………

Call our Sales team on 01798 861611 or email:sales@wlwest.co.uk

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Hardwoods into Art – Part 2

www.wlwest.co.uk

Last month I wrote a blog about one of our customers, a woodturner who produced items which I could only describe as Art.

Another of our customers Nicola Henshaw, is a sculptor who produces work that again truely can only be described as Art, again Hardwoods into Art.

Nicola has been sculpting for more than 20 years having studied Three Dimensional design at Wolverhampton University. She produces functional and decorative art for indoors and your garden. Nicola has won various commissions many of which are local to her home in the New Forest.

She received a Crafts Council Grant to set up a studio at 401 Workshops in London, where she worked for 14 years, alongside 35 artists and makers. She moved to the New Forest, Hampshire in 2003 and  produces pieces for commissions and speculatively for galleries. Her work is highly regarded internationally and has been commissioned by a wide range of private, corporate and public clients, including Iwatya in Japan, Himatsingka Siede in India, Freehand in USA, The Forestry Commission, The National Trust, Hampshire, Essex, Yorkshire, Dorset and South Lanarkshire County Councils.

Again Nicola’s work is an example of the enourmous number of different uses that we can put timber to. Nicola uses Oak and Lime sourced from us to turn into Art!! Making a truely unique piece of furniture.

I think one of the amazing things about anyone who creates items in wood is where do the ideas come from? Looking at Nicola’s work there is a clear and unmistakable wildlife theme. Have a look at her website at: www.nicolahenshaw.co.uk or give her a call on 01590 623654. I am sure that she would be only too pleased to talk to you about her work and any ideas you may have for a commission.

Click here if you would like to read the first ‘Hardwoods into Art’.

Don’t forget, for all of your hardwood and joinery softwood requirements…………………

Call our Sales team on 01798 861611 or email:sales@wlwest.co.uk

Hardwoods into Art

www.wlwest.co.uk

Red Mallee Vase

Timber has to be the most versatile material known to man. The scope of uses is mind blowing, we use it in construction with a lower cost softwood, that is never seen after roofs and plaster are applied to Oak beams that we show off.

We use it for the garden and security as fences and barriers. We use it on our rivers and in sea defence work. We still use a small amount as dunnage

Red Mallee and Ash

(packing for shipping). We burn it for heat and power. We can drive on it in some bridges and temporary roads. We carve it into amazing statues and figureheads.

Red Mallee and Ash

And not finally, because I have only grazed the surface of uses for timber, but in addition we create art with it.

One of our customers creates the most beautiful turnery, this surely can be described as Art? He uses various timbers, the examples here are from Australian and European timbers. Kevin Hutson is a professional wood turner who started out as a hobbyist. After passing his C & G exams in Carpentry & Joinery at Brighton

Technical College, Kevin ended up as a freelance draughtsman specialising in architecturally designed joinery manufacture. This was the catalyst for Kevin’s artistic and creative side to shine. He is self taught in the design area, but as you can see from his work, successfully so. Have a look at his web site at www.khturner.com, he welcomes commisions, and as you will see, Kevin’s pieces are just a little bit different. In the pictures you will see that he has put together species from different continents is a stunning way.

If you have an interest in timbers that are just a little different, pop into our shop. Stocks are always moving, so its worth popping in and seeing waht we have.

Call our Shop team on 01798 861611 or email:shop@wlwest.co.uk