This is for the serious amongst you. Those of you who are ready to make a change in your life, to really surround themselves with woodworkers and furniture making for a whole year. Not only will you learn some invaluable traditional skills but you will also become versed in drawing, and the beginnings of design. This intense workshop training gives you a strong foundation to make your own way in the studio furniture world.
All of our woodworking courses at Rowden Atelier begin with the basics. These are your roots, and they must grow deep in order for your craft to grow. At first, you will work on the same projects as the students on a six month woodworking course, which involves hand tool techniques, creating a woodworking bench, and crafting a fine jewellery box.
You will very quickly find that you cannot become a furniture maker without having a strong and intuitive handle on the fundamentals of hand tool woodworking. These will be practiced often and to exacting standards under the expert guidance of our professional furniture designer tutors.
Students will learn everything from crosshalving to dovetailing, and will also create their very own set of professional hand tools, including winding sticks, a mallet and trestles. These techniques involve elements of planing a piece flat and straight, chiselling and cutting – all essentials in furniture making that you can use later on with your larger projects.
The next stage of building your repertoire as a furniture builder in training is to complete essential projects that any furniture designer should know how to perform. Here, we take it from the macro to the micro, from function to finesse.
First, build the foundations of your later work by making your own workbench. Here, you fulfil every stage, from ordering your own timber to safely machining your components to specification. Mark and cut mortices, tenons and clean angle shoulders. Dry assemble, hand plane, polish. Create a bench top and add a metal-end vice. The perfect workspace.
Next, we come to the detailed work. This is about fine-tuning your maker’s eye and perfecting your precise skills. Whether you choose to design your own jewellery box, or build one from our designs, this project is fantastic at honing your craft. Working with small tools, learn fine fitting, immaculate polishing and Rolls Royce fitting to the lid – all to unrivalled quality standards.
After the first six months of learning your craft, your furniture design creativity can really begin to flourish. Now, you have the opportunity to design and create your own piece of furniture, with the support of our expert tutors.
This is what you’ve all been waiting for. Whether it’s a mid-century cabinet that’s been in the back of your find for years, an elegant chair or even something a little more unconventional (we’ve seen it all at Rowden!), you call the shots. Create something that stirs your imagination – learn how to properly design it and create it to the most exacting of standards from your very own workbench. There is no satisfaction quite like it.
Of course, if you prefer, you can also create a piece of furniture from Rowden’s own designs, experiencing the art of building beautiful and functional furniture from scratch, by hand.
However, as all of us who have lived in the furniture design world for some time know, there is more to becoming a maker than simply – making. At Rowden, we know this, and have designed a 12 month furniture design course that gives you a strong holistic training in every aspect of furniture building – from the practical techniques to the business skills.
Every day in the Rowden workshop begins with a group tutorial with Jonathan on different aspects of developing your journey – from demonstrations to industry insider tips. This is a great opportunity to deepen your understanding of the craft and career.
Learning one-to-one from our expert makers, you will practice the essential skills of woodworking to the highest of calibres.
Every designer must be able to translate their ideas into images, and our drawing and design classes help you to develop this skill. Every Wednesday evening, Ed Wild runs design and drawing classes, from furniture drawing to life drawing and still life work.
Knowing how to make beautiful furniture is one thing, but to make this into an occupation, you need to understand the business. Jonathan Walter imparts his extensive wisdom on developing your business plan in our biz classes, learning how to connect with your customers.
A primary skill any furniture builder needs is an understanding of the different environments they will interact with as a maker. We visit local timber suppliers to see the processes they use, take our students to exhibition each year, and host visiting designer makers such as Christian O Reilly.
“PEOPLE FROM ROWDEN ARE TRAINED TO BEHAVE WELL IN A PROFESSIONAL WORKSHOP, THEY MAY BE SLOW TO START OFF BUT THEY GET FASTER PRETTY SOON.”
Making is fine, we and many others could teach you that, what is harder is the next bit, making something worth making. We have been 35 years at the forefront of developmental furniture design. So, we can help you to design unique pieces and realise them to the highest of industry standards.
Learn skills and professional methods of woodworking on an intuitive level, that will enable you become faster with experience. Our open-all-hours workshops gives your premium bench time, with all group teaching in tea breaks and lunch breaks or in the evening.
Hard work is essential, but you need the inspiration to carry you through. At Rowden, you can see world-class furniture being made around you in the same studio. See how we do it, up close and personal. Be inspired by our former students, who are now setting up small businesses such as Young & Norgate, Bark Furniture, and James Duncan.
At Rowden, we pride ourselves on supporting students throughout the next steps in becoming a furniture designer-maker. This is the part where you have to take a leap of faith, but we are here to help. We can introduce you to shared workshops where you can rent out bench space, and provide contacts for those wishing to become improvers. Alternatively, stay on a work with us for a second year, developing new products that can be test marketed under our guidance and supervision.
“LOTS OF PEOPLE CAN TEACH YOU TO MAKE, WHAT THEY CANNOT DO IS HELP WITH THE NEXT STEP.”
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