Woodworking Essays

Woodworking Essays-6
We spoke with her about her craft, her diverse career path, and about the impact of her studies at IU.Can you say a little about yourself, your background, your training as a furniture maker, and your studies at IU? I was living in England, where my mother took my sister and me to live in 1971.My mind was bursting at how relevant everything I learned was to my everyday life.

We spoke with her about her craft, her diverse career path, and about the impact of her studies at IU.Can you say a little about yourself, your background, your training as a furniture maker, and your studies at IU? I was living in England, where my mother took my sister and me to live in 1971.My mind was bursting at how relevant everything I learned was to my everyday life.

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It was a harsh education, revealing just how much of daily work in the field is repetitious. I realized that I would not be able to put so many of the fine skills I had learned in my training into practice.

On top of this, I was introduced to the phenomenon of clients who change their mind after the job has started.

After graduating, I took a job with a cabinetmaker.

I learned invaluable lessons about the realities of making furniture and cabinetry for a living, as distinct from a hobby.

I learned to think more systematically and constructively, in addition to learning how to articulate my thoughts more effectively.

Many people think of furniture making as a manual trade. But in designing, I am interpreting my clients’ desires, as well as how they inhabit their homes.What I loved about the Department of Religious Studies at IUB was the excellent instruction and the humanities-based perspective on religion, both as a fundamental human expression and in terms of particular modes of religious thought and expression.The very first course I took, “Religion, Medicine and Suffering in the West,” which was taught by Robert Orsi, completely blew my mind. The English system—at least, in the 1970s—focused in depth on a limited range of subjects.I was fortunate to get a Metz Scholarship to study at IU through [what was then known as] the Honors Division, thanks to an astute advisor, Kathy Ruesink.I did a bachelor’s degree in religious studies with a second major through the Individualized Major Program while working in the custom furniture business I ran with my then-husband.It’s soul-destroying to be rejected repeatedly, so I just went back to doing what I knew how to do: building things. I set up a crude shop in my basement and just started trying to get local people to hire me.It was a crazy way to start a business, but I desperately needed some income.Hiller trained as a furniture maker in England, where she lived for 16 years from age 12.After earning a City and Guilds of London certificate, she worked for Roy Griffiths, a Slade School of Art-trained designer, building old pine kitchens at his Crosskeys Joinery in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.I threw myself wholeheartedly into my studies and did very well but wondered what I would ever do with that degree.Contributing to my sense of being out of place was my awareness that so many of my fellow undergraduates came from very privileged families and seemed to regard their university experience as an opportunity to party. Shortly after that I signed up for the City & Guilds furniture training at the nearest vocational college because I wanted to build things and really had no idea how to do so properly.

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