|PARKERSBURG, W. VA. (January 2014) — Woodcraft and its customers donated more than $6,000 in 2013 to support Fresh Wood, a student competition founded to encourage and support young woodworking designers and builders like Mollie Ferguson, a beginning furnituremaker who won two top Fresh Wood awards in July 2013.
In April 2012 Woodcraft invited customers to join the company in supporting Fresh Wood by making donations that Woodcraft would match up to $10,000, and in January 2013, Woodcraft gave Fresh Wood a check for $4,260.
“Woodcraft is pleased to be able to give Fresh Wood a larger check this year – $6,186 from 2013 donations,” Woodcraft President Jody Garrett said. “Woodcraft will continue the Fresh Wood project in 2014 in an effort to keep woodworking as a viable career choice for future generations.”
Founded by The Association of Woodworking & Furnishings Suppliers (AWFS) in 1999 when the industry faced shortages of skilled workers, Fresh Wood promotes woodworking and design education programs, as well as students pursuing careers in these fields. Held in conjunction with the AWFS Fair every two years, the Fresh Wood competition offers a place for students to showcase their work, be introduced to the industry as artists, designers and woodworkers, and be exposed to industry career opportunities. In addition, winners take home monetary and tool awards.
“We awarded over $19,000 in prize money for Fresh Wood 2013, and thanks to Woodcraft contributions, we were able to increase all prize check amounts by over 25% per prize level. A portion of the funds was also used to offset the costs of travel and hotel allowances for the Fresh Wood finalists and their instructors attending the AWFS Fair,” Adria Torrez, AWFS assistant director of education, said.
Ferguson, who lives in Oakland, California, won the Best of Show and first place in the post-secondary chair category for her 2013 chair entry, “dulcius ex asperis.” Her awards included a wood sculpture, $2,224, a 14" Rikon bandsaw, and a certificate of merit. She entered the competition as a College of the Redwoods graduate, having completed two years of study in 2012.
“Right now I'm living in the Bay Area, and I have a shared shop,” Ferguson said. “I am trying to find my way into the furniture market here. So far things have been a bit quiet. But I do have to say that I have gotten a fair amount of press and I did meet several people in the industry at the show. I hope that the attention that I have gotten from participating will eventually equal possible furniture work.”
Ferguson said she became interested in furnituremaking while earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. When her career path veered away from furniture design, Ferguson decided to more seriously pursue furnituremaking. Realizing that she would need more woodworking instruction, she enrolled at the College of the Redwoods.
For students contemplating a career in woodworking – a field where making a living can be difficult – Ferguson said Fresh Wood is a plus. “When Fresh Wood presents an opportunity to help get your name out there, possibly win a tool for your shop, and some prize money to help get you started – then it makes you feel like it’s a little more possible.”
“It is so exciting to see students participate in Fresh Wood and how it impacts their careers in woodworking. We have seen students make connections through Fresh Wood and at the AWFS Fair that have led to job and networking opportunities,” Torrez said. “Students have gone on to start their own woodworking businesses and work for cabinetmaking, architectural millwork and furniture companies, engineering companies and architectural firms.”
To contribute to the Woodcraft Fresh Wood project, visit woodcraft.com and click on Fresh Wood in the Partner Sites list on the home page, or if you place an order, you will be given an opportunity to donate as the order is processed. There is also a link to the donation page on the Fresh Wood section of the AWFS website.
To learn more about the Fresh Wood competition and 2013 winners, visit http://awfsfair.org/attendee-information/student-contests. For more information about AWFS, visit www.awfsfair.org.
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