Anna Cooke-Yarborough, professionally known as Anna C-Y joined us in July for a six-month residency at the workshop. She is our second candidate following Misbah Siddique. As she comes to the end of her residency, we asked her about the past few months and where she sees herself going.
Anna studied Fine Woodwork – Furniture Making at the Building Crafts College after working in the charity sector and as a freelance illustrator. ‘I reached a point where I wanted to be working more creatively and to be working with my hands. I had been interested in timber in construction and how engineered timber allows for greater use of wood in construction. I wanted to work with wood but on a smaller scale, as I think that it is a very positive and versatile material.’
The course enabled her to learn bench joinery, starting with windows and stairs before progressing to constructing furniture, a process that she describes as a great experience.
‘Working with wood often feels like a big responsibility because you know that the tree had been growing for so long, and it feels really important to make best use of that lifetime and all the energy involved. ‘
During her time at the workshop, Anna has been working on some folding shave horses, or Origami Horses based on a design by Masashi Kutsuwa. ‘Shave horses are generally used with draw knives and spokeshaves and these shave horses can be easily transported and stowed away.’ The shave horses are ideal for working with green wood, something that Anna is passionate about, hence the need for them to be transportable. Anna plans to use these and some benches she has made to teach short courses, including woodland based workshops. ‘I am interested in developing short green woodwork courses using shave horses and carving blocks, so that people can have an introduction to woodwork this way’
So what is green woodworking?
Anna explains, ‘The word green in relation to wood means that the wood is unseasoned and so it still contains a significant proportion of its natural moisture. Seasoned wood has had its moisture content reduced, this can be achieved by drying the wood in a kiln or out in the air.
‘Making use of green wood enables use of wood that is removed by tree surgeons. This wood is often then used as firewood or converted into wood chippings, so you can find tree surgeons that are happy to provide the wood for free or for a small price. Splitting logs and then carving or shaping small objects provides a good introduction to the structure of trees and to things like grain direction and tool sharpness. Green wood can also be used to make furniture, in this case it’s important to be mindful of establishing the right moisture content in sections that will be jointed in order to create strong joints.’
Ideally Anna plans to continue working with wood, potentially in a furniture making or fabrication workshop whilst making time to continue with her own projects.
How has your experience been at the workshop?
‘I’ve really enjoyed being at the workshop. It’s nice to be in a space where so many different things are being made, with people working both professionally and others coming in to work on personal projects when they can. It’s been useful to have access to metalwork as well as woodwork facilities, I’ve used this to shorten metal rods and have also been able to learn some basic things in an induction.
‘Blackhorse Workshop offers an enabling environment for people to work within and learn, there’s always someone around who you can ask advice from – be it the technician or someone else using the workshop. I have enjoyed sharing bits of knowledge about woodworking when I can. It’s really nice to see what people are able to learn and make at the workshop.’