November 25, 2015

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The first copy of The Full Circle has opened my eyes to the knowledge, energy and commitment of the hardwood industry in Scotland to what it does. I hear first hand that makers of top end furniture want quality timber at a reasonable price, reliable in its supply and I read we have the skills materials and ideas to make this happen. One example is on the 16th October when a kilning course is being run by ASHS, at the modest cost of £10 for SFMA members at Scottish Wood, in Fife. This is also an opportunity for makers to have input and influence into the supply side of their business.

In my workshop and design studio, quality means no drying related shakes, minimum wastage in milling, uniformly dry wood and consistent colouring between boards. It also means understanding the provenance of the material, even to the exact tree, and having the confidence to specify local material for medium volume production. I think I live in the right place.

One of SFMA’s main roles is in promoting its members through the website, exhibitions and advertising. The creative process and furniture making in particular demands long periods of meditative, repetitive operations, exacting cutting and being sure you can accomplish what you had in mind without a costly slip. The marketing side of the business is something that requires a different set of skills and is where the association can help members.

A visit to the Clerkenwell Design week in May showed a lively marketplace of furniture by crafts people and designers, using materials we are familiar with. The Invisible Store of Happiness had a stunning centrepiece made as a collaboration between a sculptor and furniture maker using imported hardwood. It was a purely promotional piece and it got tremendous coverage in some of the national craft and design magazines, weekend papers and festival literature. I was left wondering why materials from our own country were not being used, given their availability.

The Glasgow Contemporary Art Fair was a fun and busy event at the Old Fruitmarket in the Merchant city. Eight members received around 4000 visitors and commissions were secured for several pieces. By the time of publication six members will have exhibited at the Aberdeen Arts fair where a similar number of visitors are expected.

Our website refresh has started and we’re working with Designers on the Run from Leith, who have experience in working with creative organisations. The aim is to provide a focal point for the association; market the best of members work and enhance their visibility; have a place to generate opportunities and for external enquiries, and to tell the world how to belong to us. Hopefully all before Christmas.

Google members group is providing a way for instant networking where members can communicate and share issues. Requests for workshop space, sales and technical advice and information are some of the posts to date. It is a way of breaking open the walls of the workshop and sharing things. Technology was also used for the first time for our July committee meeting. This was done on Skype and meant we didn’t have to give up a whole day from our businesses.

The After the Storm project is progressing and we hope to have more detailed news in October. Suffice it to say the budget is being put together.

The run up to christmas is usually demanding on our time with a clear and present deadline for all makers of beautiful things. Events where you can see SFMA members exhibiting some of these items are Oakwood Studios, Fintry G63 0LP 28th September to 11th October, the Tweed Valley Forest Festival in Peebles 24th and 25th October and Springwood Park in Kelso 21st and 22nd November.

If you are interested in the drying course call Jim Birley 01383 851328. The google members group is open to all SFMA members for free.

Finally, thank you to our supporters over the last 6 months, particularly FCS, as without this help we could not do as much as we do.

Jonathan Rose

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