Support ‘A Workshop of Our Own’

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Note: I’ve been meaning to write this blog entry for many weeks. But travel, teaching, book editing and toolmaking have stymied me. Time is short on this campaign, so if you can support this endeavor, please do.

Every modern survey of woodworkers that I know of contends that the craft is 95 percent male and 5 percent female. Why is this? I’m not smart enough or informed enough to give you an answer that is better than a guess (I seriously doubt anyone is). But I do know something very important: It wasn’t always this way.

Before the rise of the guild system in the Middle Ages and the later separation of gender roles in the 18th and 19th centuries, women in the woodworking trades were a common sight. (Want to read more about this? Check out this excellent article Suzanne Ellison wrote for our blog last April.)

And that’s why I wholeheartedly support “A Workshop of Our Own,” a school and workshop aimed at creating woodworkers among women, children and other disadvantaged people. The effort is headed up by Sarah Marriage, a world-class furniture maker I met in Brooklyn a few years ago. Her work is spectacular. She has a brilliant mind. And she has the enthusiasm and drive to make this endeavor work.

While you might rankle at the idea of a school for women, I don’t. We men have failed during the last 150 years to bring women into the craft – the numbers don’t lie. So maybe this school and workshop will succeed where we have not.

Plus, I think the world will be a far more interesting place with “A Workshop of Our Own,” and I cannot wait to see what grows from the seeds the supporters are planting now.

Time is short to support Sarah and her school so they can attempt to buy their building and secure the location and future of the school. You can read full details here. I hope you will consider supporting their effort.

— Christopher Schwarz



About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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13 Responses to Support ‘A Workshop of Our Own’

  1. captainjack1024 says:

    I’m in. And I hope this just gets bigger.


  2. Thanks for posting this. When I was in school, girls weren’t allowed to take shop. They had to take home economics. I was not happy. I also know boys who would have liked to take home ec and they were not allowed. I certainly hope that has changed. Boys should be allowed to cook and sew if they want to and girls should be allowed to build things. I finally started woodworking by taking an adult ed course many years later. I always wonder what I could have accomplished had I been given the encouragement to start earlier. This is a great cause to support.


  3. nrhiller says:

    Thank you for your support of this project. High fives!


  4. kv41 says:

    Many thanks, Chris.


  5. joyofwood says:

    Gidday Chris. I have been teaching traditional woodworking hand skills to kids and adults here in Perth, Western Australia, for 9 years. Consistently over that time, in the public workshop programs I offer to adults, the participation rate by women has been 75-80%.
    I’m my experience, there are heaps of women who are hungry to learn Woodworking. Most of the women coming to my classes have little or no previous experience. They are keen.

    However as a Cabinetmaker/Joiner I also know there are very few women in the industry. This big movement of recreational woodworking women is growing. We also have in our city a women’s woodworking club, who are unable to deal with the number of women wanting to join them.

    So here in Perth, the tide is turning. About time too.


  6. I taught my daughter when she was small and she says it was the most memorable part of her childhood. I have continued with my granddaughter 13 year old twins who have a small collection of their own hand tools – their father is forbidden to touch them because he is useless with tools they say – cheeky monkeys.

    I belong to a carving and woodworking club and we always have at least 50% female members. They are very able and ask for advice from time to time and we ask them.

    Ordinarily our womenfolk tend to think they cant do it and they are delighted when they find they can and just as well. I shall never forget the looks of grim determination and concentration on the faces of the twins when first learning to drive in nails – using their own hammers.


  7. kendewitt608 says:

    I am in, think we need more of this being done. My 28 year old daughter agrees.


  8. pinusmuricata says:

    Here’s her student pieces at College of the Redwoods:


  9. Mark Baker says:

    Sawdust and sex , hmm… too scratchy .
    Everyone that can cut on the right side of the line with a hand saw or drill with that brace and bit a straight hole belongs in the shop .


  10. misterlinn says:

    Will men be allowed to enrole in this school?


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