I've spent the last three weeks in residence with Geoffrey and Anna Keating (and their wonderful kids) at Keating Woodworks in Colorado Springs. I went with a few specific aims in mind: to learn from Geoffrey how to master hand-cut dovetails and chair spindles, among other things; to talk with Anna about writing and religion; and to get in some fly fishing and hiking on the side. One of my overarching goals was to spend enough time in Geoffrey's shop to get a good sense of his process, setup, rhythm, and experience of life as a full time craftsperson (I think 8-10 hours per day was enough). It's a beautiful, strenuous, creative, communal life that Geoffrey and Anna live with their family--and they have worked hard and taken risks to get where they are now.
Geoffrey is well known for his designs, which bring together traditional forms with contemporary and innovative styles, and for his craftsmanship, which is impeccable. (Check him out on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/keatingwoodworks/). He integrates deep attention to lines and grain with distinctive and sometimes surprising elements. He takes a traditional idea and asks, "how can I keep this idea but give it new expression?" The result is always stunning.
In addition to working on some chairs and a side table during my time there, most of our days in the shop were dedicated to a large church furniture project. Geoffrey has been commissioned to design and build the pews, confessionals, doorways, and altar furniture for a Spanish Mission style Catholic church in Colorado Springs. We were focused on the end-caps of the pews, which involved lots of milling, bandsaw work, joinery, and sanding. And sanding.
All in all, this was a great experience, and I came away inspired and energized to dive more fully into my own process, design, and making.