Clare Charleston, restoration expert at the Chippendale furniture school

Christmas and St Joseph

One of the great attractions of woodworking is that it’s something that dates back to the dawn of mankind.

Techniques and design may have changed, but the instinctive urge to fashion beauty from wood hasn’t changed.

Ever since humans first started to create places to live, they also began to make them into homes – furnishing them with comfortable beds and chairs, and fashioning tables, shelves and other adornments.

Woodworking is therefore enduring and universal because we still need comfortable beds and chairs.  Furniture is what helps make a house a home.

The Book of Genesis depicts one of the world’s early woodworkers.  God gave Noah the task of building an Ark out of cypress wood, 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high.

That would have made the Ark about 450 feet long, and the size of a four-storey building.  Not bad going for someone with no previous carpentry experience.

But for woodworkers everywhere, Christmas really belongs to Saint Joseph, Jesus’ father, the patron saint of cabinetmakers, and in remembering him, we are also remembering his son.

Back then, children learned the skills of their fathers – so Jesus too would have been a carpenter.

It’s a nice thought that, here at the Chippendale, we are keeping age-old skills alive and passing them on to students worldwide.

Picture: Clare Charleston, our restoration expert, gets in the Festive spirit.

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