When other girls could be found playing with Bratz and Barbies, eight-year-old Kara Jobb was more likely hanging out with her dad in the wood shop tinkering with a band saw.
“That was probably the first tool I played with,” said Jobb, thinking back to her days in Terrace when she and her dad would hike over to his buddy’s shop to spend the afternoon turning piles of square boards into useful, and sometimes even artful, objects.
Jobb is now among a class of students completing Okanagan College’s inaugural Studio Woodworking program—an eight-month program that delves into the artistic side of woodworking, teaching students the skills necessary to create fine cabinetry, even musical instruments and furniture.
On Saturday, May 7, Jobb will be among 18 students displaying their work at the exhibit Engrained held at the Tutt Street Gallery in Kelowna, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Jobb’s piece is a tall shelf crafted from two types of wood—cherry and sapele, a hard wood very similar to mahogany that gained popularity when it was used for interior wood trim in Cadillacs.
The shelf itself incorporates another piece she worked on during the course—a treasure chest.
“The colours are really nice because the cherry is pink and the sapele is a reddish brown, so the legs and outside pieces are all sapele and the inside shows the cherry.”
Jobb will also be exhibiting her graphically illustrated handcrafted longboards.
“I’ve learned a few more techniques about how to do things in different ways and do some things better than before,” Jobb explained.
“My favourite is marquetry where you use paper-thin pieces of veneer to create pictures and then apply them.
“My theme was shoes, so I had all these shoes pieced together on a panel.”
The program’s blend of practical woodworking and art draws students from all kinds of backgrounds, said instructor Tim Diebert, himself a well-regarded luthier, who turned his love of wood into creating handcrafted guitars.
“We’ve got students here who have retired and want to be hobbyists, an artist who wants to get better at working with wood, and a carpenter who wants to do finer work.
“This course really does appeal to a wide range of people.”
During the year, students have worked hard on a variety of projects that taught them techniques in inlay and finishing, and also exposed them to a variety of exotic woods—many of which have to be privately sourced.
“These are often kept secret,” said Diebert, who’s clearly willing to share.
Students also learn how to market their work, right down to taking high quality photographs using inexpensive lights and simple backdrops.
The images can then be used for their portfolio and for their websites.
For Jobb, it’s like a dream come true. Eventually she’d like to open her own business, with hopes that her birch plywood longboards will take off.
It’s a labour of love, and for Diebert and all the other students, it’s working with the wood that makes all the difference.