03 July 2012
Naked Table Project Builds Furniture and Community
Sustainable Woodstock, in collaboration with the ShackletonThomas company, invites area residents and visitors to this year's Naked Table workshop and celebration on August 25 and 26. Over the past four years, fifteen Naked Table events have been held in Woodstock and other towns in the area, and the concept is so distinctive popular that it is featured in the latest issue of Yankee magazine.
Charlie Shackleton conceived the idea in 2009 after one of the early community meetings here on local sustainability. An internationally admired furniture craftsman, he felt that “we should be making beautiful, simple furniture out of local wood, that local people could afford.” He devised the project to involve local landowners, forestry workers, and woodworkers in obtaining and fashioning the components, and then opening his workshop so that individuals could create their own furniture.
Shackleton explains that the furniture is “naked” in two ways: First, its simple design allows novices to experience the creative pleasure of crafting useful things for their homes, putting their own personal stamp on these pieces. Second, the entire process of obtaining and using the wood is apparent. During the workshop, table-makers make a field trip to the forest where their wood was grown (this year, that is the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Park), and a forester explains sustainable harvesting methods.
After the tables (and this year, chairs and benches as well) are done, the group celebrates at a community meal, held on Woodstock's covered bridge, using the tables they made. Tables, says Shackleton, bring people together in practical as well as symbolic ways; we eat, play and discuss around them. Naked Table is a powerful community-building event as well as a lesson in using local resources in creative ways.
The Naked Table project shows how we can go beyond being “consumers” by getting more involved in producing what we need. This is an important component of community sustainability and resilience. Ian Aldrich, the author of the Yankee article, concluded after participating that the experience was an “act of renewal. . . . What it did for me, and I believe others, was to spark the idea that we can all be makers, not to mention appreciate more fully the origins of the materials that go into making the things that make up our lives.”
This year the workshop will take place on Saturday, August 25, in the ShackletonThomas workshops in the Bridgewater Mill, and the community meal, open to all, will be held the next day. Locally sourced food will be provided by the Woodstock Farmer's Market.
Proceeds from the Naked Table benefit Sustainable Woodstock's projects. The cost to make a table is $950, for a chair $480, and $450 for a bench. Tickets for the community meal are $40. Spaces will fill quickly, so make your reservation soon. Call 802-672-5175 or email the Naked Table; more information here.
by Ron Miller