woodworking workshop


Self Provisioning with Wood

Led by Melissa Sclafani and assisted by Samuel Busko, this Woodworking Workshop explores the building of our own worlds and environments in a limited-resource context. It is an exploration of creating space and developing personally effective tool and material methodologies so that we can learn to meet our own needs and the needs of our community through playful and effective design.

Participants are asked to come with an idea in mind - a permanent, possibly functional piece they would like to take home or an experimental or experiential structure or installation to build on site. Those seeking inspiration or guidance with technical approaches will begin learning sustainable building methods to create small structures for Visitor Center Artist Camp. Possibilities for group building projects this year are benches for sitting in the woods, outfitting the Fire & Drying Shed that will be built collaboratively during the Sustainable Building Workshop during Session One, and most exciting, a SAUNA for the camp! 

Sawmill Ballet, a collaborative performance orchestrated by Kristen Tordella-Williams, on the stage built buy  Lindsey French, and featuring "Minnesota" Mel Seeger, Hannah Givler, Kristen Tordella-Williams, and the VCAC community, August 2015.

Sawmill Ballet, a collaborative performance orchestrated by Kristen Tordella-Williams, on the stage built buy  Lindsey French, and featuring "Minnesota" Mel Seeger, Hannah Givler, Kristen Tordella-Williams, and the VCAC community, August 2015.

Previous participating artists have built a stage in the woods for performance and collaboration, out of cut-off waste from cedar logs milled locally at Mel Seeger's Matchwood Sawmill, sparked a group-build for a needed rain shelter, and built custom shelving and tables for our workshops out of reclaimed Forestry Service picnic tables. Artists are welcome to propose ideas for structural projects in the woods, either as installation art or functional architecture. Create a new space at camp for mediation, play, work, reflection, or inspiration.

The workshop will begin with a rapid design/build of a pop up woodworking space including benches and sawhorses under a portable carport. In the process of designing and building their space participants will gain an understanding of woodworking fundamentals as well as familiarize themselves with their surroundings and the resources available to them. Key tools and available equipment will be introduced in the context of building out the workshop space.

The remainder of the workshop will be spent in the process of realizing our ideas including individual, project-specific exploration and instruction, experimentation, playing, building, finishing, and evaluating. Participants are encouraged to think in terms of both finished, completed pieces to take home and to use time and space to explore ideas they wouldn’t otherwise be able to start.

Caroline Robe turning wood with Dick Graham

Caroline Robe turning wood with Dick Graham

We will tour the workspaces of local sawmill operator and timber-framing expert Mel Seeger and local wood-turner Dick Graham, and see them demonstrate their processes. They will investigate the material resources available including rough cut green and dry lumber, reclaimed lumber, and found branch/log wood. Affordable rough cut lumber is available for purchase at Seeger's Sawmill, just up the road.

Those who are new to wood construction will leave the workshop having gained material and tool competency, and confidence in creating work spaces and asking questions. Participants of all experience levels will strengthen their abilities to engage in needs-meeting in their own spaces and communities, exploring new techniques, and realizing concepts in wood.

Mel Seeger milling logs at his Matchwood Sawmill. Mel built his own sawmill from an old Mac truck! He is an expert timber-framer and built our beautiful studio barn at VCAC.

Mel Seeger milling logs at his Matchwood Sawmill. Mel built his own sawmill from an old Mac truck! He is an expert timber-framer and built our beautiful studio barn at VCAC.

Participants are responsible for their own basic safety gear (safety glasses, dust masks, work gloves, work boots, etc.)

See Costs here, and go to Symposium and Logistics for more details