Words and photos: Andrew Potocnik
Wood Dust Australia emerged a mere 12 months ago aiming to fill the void between a commercial show and an environment where the joy of working with wood could be transferred from seasoned makers to those looking to build on their skills, or those just getting started.
Located last year near the ACT and in Queanbeyan, the event moved to Melbourne to attract a new audience and took place in the newly established premises of FAB9 on the banks of the Maribyrnong River from August 8 – 11, 2019.
Faced with a cold wintry blast, attendees were treated to a range of demonstrations, talks and masterclasses presented by internationals, some from interstate and those of us from intersuburb.
Masterclass attendees were able to work in small groups with some of the finest of makers, learning in an intimate environment where each participant could pick the brains of the presenter. On the weekend, with a rotating programme based on 90 minute sessions it was possible to move from one presentation to another at will and tune into a range of practical demonstrations, design discussions and hands-on programs.
Topics covered included steambending for chairmaking (Bern Chandley), laminated bending (Ross Annels), spooncarving (Carol Russell), specialised routing techniques (Patrick Holcombe), kumiko and boxmaking (Matt Kenney), traditional Japanese joinery (Shinobu Kobayashi), guitar making (Gary Rizzolo) finishing, photography and marketing. Several presentations involved younger up and coming designers and makers who injected a modern aspect into their presentations. Some may still be developing their making skills, but they have well and truly honed their marketing knowledge in a tech-savvy world, an area where networking isn’t just local but global.
An extra area was set aside for sales of machinery, tools and materials so there really was something for everyone interested in fine woodworking at any level of experience. Beginners were able to enrol in courses run by various institutions, while experienced makers could rub shoulders with high profile craftspeople.
Facilities at Fab9 extend beyond those needed for Wood Dust, including prototyping and manufacturing equipment – from 3D printers and laser cutters to electronics and industrial sewing machines. It has been set up to provide an environment where emerging and professional inventors and makers can operate during flexible hours so people with full-time jobs can come to learn and make.
Judging by the smiles and enthusiasm, this type of event certainly has set a new standard for a rather worn format that hasn’t changed in the last 20 years, and the organisers have ideas for further evolution in coming years. Suggestions and requests are plentiful so let’s see where this project will go, but for now its time to digest all the information gleaned and let all the new knowledge flourish.
Learn more at www.wooddustaustralia.com