Sweepstakes Winner Attends Jory Brigham Workshop

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Photo L-R: Jory Brigham with class participants Shayna, Brian, Jay, Gigi, Andrew, Chris, Taylor and Dennis

You would be surprised how hard it is to give something away, even when there’s no catch. It took several phone calls back in December to finally convince a skeptical Gigi Branch that she had won ‘The Jory Brigham Experience’ sweepstakes. “Some guy named Andrew kept calling me,” she laughed. She even called her local San Antonio Woodcraft, where she had entered the sweepstakes, to see if it was legit. Store manager Rick Martinez recalled telling her, “I think you should call him back.”

Andrew Bondi, Woodcraft’s power tool sales manager, understood Gigi’s initial apprehension. “After all, some stranger on the phone is telling her she had won a SawStop cabinet saw, over $1,000 in tools and an all-expenses paid trip for her and a companion to California to take part in a workshop experience with one of the coolest woodworkers out there,” he said. After Gigi’s questions of “What will I have to pay?” (nothing) and “What’s the catch?” (there isn’t one), Andrew suggested she to take a day or two, research Woodcraft, SawStop and Jory Brigham. “I gave her my name and phone number and kindly asked her to call me back in a few days. Needless to say, when she called me back she was elated and couldn’t thank me enough. She was so pumped up for the saw, the tools, the trip and the training!” 

Photo: DAY 1 - Gigi and Jay sanding their table legs. 

Photo: DAY 1 - Gigi discussing table legs with Jory, as shop assistant Garett looks on. 

It turns out that Gigi was a onetime customer who came in to the Woodcraft store at the suggestion of one of her four sons when she was working on staining a bedroom suite. She bought a can of finish and entered the contest while she was checking out at the register. “She didn’t even remembering entering,” Andrew said.

Fast forward to June 23-24-25, and Andrew joined Gigi for the three-day furniture building class at Jory Brigham Design in Paso Robles, California, which she scheduled around her job as a high school nurse in San Antonio. Six other people took the class with them, including Gigi’s boyfriend Jay who was her guest as the contest winner. Woodcraft blogger Lori Harper also attended to document the class. 

Photo: DAY 1 - Gigi, shop assistant Mackenzie, Jory’s nephew and assistant Jethro, Jory, Jay, Taylor.

I'll admit that I may have been a little worried about this Gigi character,” Jory confided. But his fears were soon laid to rest upon meeting her and seeing her excitement to be there. “I feel like we really won the jackpot with her and Jay. They were a pleasure. We couldn’t have asked for a better set of people to spend the weekend with.” Andrew wholeheartedly agreed. “She was a true delight, and her enthusiasm was contagious. Gigi is one of those people who will put a smile on your face whenever you talk to her.”

“I had so much fun, I learned a lot,” Gigi said. Though she had some woodworking experience, she has been unable to pursue the hobby since moving from a house to an apartment. As he always does, Jory wanted to ensure that all the class attendees had a great experience and left with some new skills and confidence. His philosophy is that anyone given the right tools and the opportunity can create beautiful furniture. 

Photo: DAY 2 - Jay and Gigi check out a table leg.

The project being built in the weekend class was a three-legged table with a drawer, which Jory designed to incorporate some of his favorite techniques such as template and router work, Festool domino use and joinery. He allows each student the flexibility to customize theirs, and Gigi certainly had her own ideas about how she wanted her table to look. She originally wanted to stain it black to match a bedroom suite. Ironically, the same bedroom suite that prompted her to head into the Woodcraft Store in the first place. But Jory would have none of that. “Not in my class, you’re not,” he told her. She acquiesced and saw the wisdom in Jory’s thinking as her project progressed and she began to see the beautiful wood grain coming through. 

Photo: DAY 2 - Jory discusses the drawer construction with Jay and Gigi, as Taylor looks on. 

But that didn’t stop her from giving her project the “Gigi touch.” Andrew saw the determination in her eyes! “I think the thing that impressed me most about Gigi was her design choice on how to finish the front drawer of her end table. She chose a very difficult and time-consuming texturing pattern,” he said. Gigi’s inspiration for her drawer front was the wavy pattern on the background of the Jory Brigham Design sign in the workshop. “Even after Jory told her it would be difficult, she stuck to her guns and never wavered. She pushed on until it was done! The end result was nothing short of stunning!”     

Despite the brutal California heat, the couple forged on with pleasant determination. Andrew shared, “That first day of the workshop was one of the hottest days in memory. I don’t think it is a stretch to say it topped 100 degrees that day. Through the heat, all three days, Gigi and Jay maintained their level of excitement and were eager to learn the design process, various tips and techniques and couldn’t wait to operate a new tool or piece of equipment.”

Photo: DAY 2 - Gigi tries her hand at working with concrete during Jory’s demonstration, along with Taylor and Brian. 

Photo: DAY 3 - Gigi, Chris and Jay watch as Jory fits the drawer into the table. 

In the end, Jory said, “For having somewhat little experience with woodworking, Gigi finished her piece (with a little help from Jay) like a pro. I have to confess, I was a little worried about the possibility of a total weirdo showing up. Gigi was just the right amount of weird in all the right ways.”

Clearly, a bond had been formed in those few days. The experience was indescribable for Gigi. “I can’t explain it. You can’t explain how awesome it was. It was one of the most awesome experiences I’ve ever had.” Jory’s wife Alison and children, Parker and Bozley, were all part of the life-changing weekend too. Ali prepared delicious meals for the crew and was the perfect hostess, showing up with popsicles at just the right time! “I loved everyone. I wasn’t ready to come home. I wanted to go back and make something else the next day. As we were leaving, it felt like we were telling our long-lost relatives goodbye. Bozley even brought their pet snake Rocky up to say goodbye.” 

Photo: DAY 3 - "I can't believe I made this!"

Would she do it again? Absolutely! “Never in a million years would I have chosen to take a class like this as my vacation,” she said. “But I would do it again in a heartbeat. In fact, if I had the money, I would do it every single summer.”

For now, she hopes to find some classes nearby her home to encourage her boys as well as to further advance her skills. Psst, Gigi, try your local Woodcraft Store. 

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