WOOD WORKS FOR WOMEN Why working with wood and other women can heal
As a young girl, I was living with this great craving for working and living off the land somewhere in the countryside, yet my world was far from it, being brought up in post communistic Warsaw in Poland on the concrete housing estate. I had a family friend who was brought up on the farm and was very envious of her then. We did go to visit her family sometimes and happy days where filled with feeding farm animals, climbing trees, hiding in the fields, chasing butterflies, chopping wood for campfires, playing outside till dark, counting droplets on my skin.
My childhood friend had a small wooden Shed outside her house in the garden and we spent many hours playing there. Boys were not allowed! This is when I first thought of building my own furniture, my “She-shed” (like man’s cave) or tiny house. Small girls dream. I was only 7.
My dad was skilled architect, engineer and entrepreneur and built all our first furniture from recycledmy favourite was a pair of little stools that we used to play on with my younger sister. I was brought up with the idea that anything you need you can make yourself as long you are willing to be resourceful and have courage to be creative, take risks. Unexpectedly dad died of cancer when I was 14 and didn’t manage to pass on all his woodworking skills to me but I kept the basic skills going, although swapped power tools for drawing pen and become a landscape architect instead, built community gardens and growing spaces in cities.
Many years went by and opportunity presented itself to live more sustainably, off grid and in 2015 with a great help from my husband’s parents and a family friend we converted an old diesel van to a living home on wheels.I did realise then how rusty my woodworking, carpentry skills have become and how little confidence had, particularly when it came to working with power tools.
I was also going through career change and recovering from serious career burn out and I found great comfort in working with wood in nature, especially with the reclaimed, salvaged or no longer needed wood that someone thrown away.
When I started to work with all the power tools I discovered that it gradually made me feel more and more confident. But it wouldn’t happen if I didn’t get help from very modest, skilled gentleman who came to my rescue when I was drilling and broke few screws in the process.
A family friend, who had all the patience in the world and thought me bit by bit again, he wasn’t rushing me, he wasn’t nagging me, assuming I know it all but also didn’t treat me like a complete idiot either. He just let me experiment and make few mistakes and master simple skills…I will never forget his words of encouragement and non –judgemental attitude. This is what I needed, the gentleness and straightforwardness and modesty of a kind teacher.
I also realised that as a women I need a different approach to learning and experimenting. We need to be given opportunity to problem solve and using power tools just makes you feel powerful. One day I will build my own home when the time is right.
In the meantime, I found that many women are interested in woodworking, carpentry, landscape design and natural building and permaculture are joining the movement but the access to the opportunities for women friendly classes are still limited but the need for them is growing.
When women can come together and learn in a fun, non-threating, more relaxed way, we can benefit greater from skill sharing and group empowerment. I’ve learnt that it’s empowering to be helped and help others!
The natural building community is warm, friendly, and expanding.
At Heal Earth I am growing community of women who are aspiring to be newborn urban farmers, carpenters who will build their own healthy natural houses, she sheds, and grow community gardens, market gardens, allotments and heal communities.
This is how the Women Makers Programme was born. Women who want learn skills with other women so we created these women only workshops.
Heal earth aims to offer short and long term courses, summer programs that provide hands-on experiences in woodwork, carpentry, diy, natural building, building small garden, structures, she –sheds, environmental design, gardening &food growing, eco-art therapy.
We are launching our first Woodworking Classes courses in the end of October and November in Chester thanks to generosity and expertise of very skilled and friendly tutor Graham Stephens who founded Woodwork to Wellness Project , home to over 2,000 sq ft of workshop space in Saltney Business Centre, Chester.
We also teamed up with Make Liverpool and offering Woodworking Women Classes there too thanks to, very experienced tutor Mark Evans from Make Liverpool – who has ten years’ joinery experience under his tool belt, and a bachelor’s degree in fine art to go with it – will walk you through the steps to crafting your beautiful wooden creations to take home.
Check out the Courses Programme
Book your courses here:
Ola Rug , Founder of Heal Earth Enterprise