Clare at the Chippendale furniture school teaching

Bringing the past back to life

The Chippendale school is more than a place of learning.  On top of incubation space where graduates can set up in business, it also comprises kitchen design and making, and a restoration business.

In charge of restoration is Clare Charleston who has been at the school for over twenty years, and who is currently working on a Victorian mahogany writing desk that is much in need of bucketfuls of TLC.

Over the years, Clare has worked on everything from rocking horses to grandfather clocks, with her more usual pieces being tables, chairs and cabinets.

Given the school’s reputation, the furniture that Clare lovingly restores come from all over Scotland and the north of England.

Some have been pieces of furniture with only a sentimental value; others have been hugely-valuable pieces requiring the most delicate care.  Some were made relatively recently; a few have dated back hundreds of years.

Clare also passes on her skills to our students, as restoration is an important part of a modern woodworker’s armoury – bringing old furniture back to life.

Indeed, as part of their course, our students are required to work on restoration projects, because being a skilled woodworker is not just about designing and making new furniture.

It’s also about understanding how furniture design and making has changed over the centuries, and how their skills can also be applied to keeping history alive.

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