Skills development through wood

August 19, 2016


This year the Working with Wood Show, held in partnership with the Association of Woodturners South Africa (AWSA), is to be held at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) George Campus from August 26 to 28.

The focus of this event lies in the upliftment of surrounding communities through woodworking.

Besides the myriad of wood and timber related products, skills and machinery on display, the event’s main aim is to reawaken the interest in carpentry and place wood firmly back on the centre stage where it once lived.

With this in mind, the American Association of Woodturners’ (AAW) board, on invitation of AWSA, will launch two of their outreach initiative, Turners without Borders (TWB) and Women in Turning (WIT), during this festival of wood.

The key to the success of a TWB initiative is to locate the project in a community where there is an existing support base. Based on the global experience, it has been decided to establish the first South African pilot project for TWB in the Garden Route.

The pilot sites identified are in the Karatara district, in partnership with Tsiba (Tertiary School in Business Administration), and in George, together with the NMMU campus, in partnership with the School of Natural Resource Management (wood technology).

In full support of this initiative, Garden Route-based experienced woodturners have agreed to provide mentoring to members of the community throughout their journey to acquiring woodturning skills.

AAW, the largest woodturning organisation in the world, launched their TWB three years ago. Through this they have already accomplished many fascinating initiatives. They have successfully transferred woodturning skills to deprived communities in several countries such as Mexico, Puerta Rico, China and India.

Through their newly acquired skills in woodturning and making use of the local supply of wood, members of these deprived communities have been able to develop local economies and in so doing have been able uplift themselves.

Last year, the AAW agreed to bring the TWB programme to South Africa and have committed to sponsor Carmen de la Paz, an international DIY icon, to South Africa to launch the TWB initiative.

In agreeing to support this initiative, the AAW further agreed to look at a partnering model with the AWSA.

In parallel with the TWB project, AWSA will be launching the Women in Turning (WIT) project in recognition that globally, women are in the top rankings of woodturners. A move away from the traditional male-domination has been noticed, with women making their mark in the industry and many of them finding a new meaning for themselves. Among other drivers, the WIT project will be designed to generate income to expand the TWB project to other regions in South Africa.

Because of De la Paz’ passion and commitment to the development of those less fortunate, she has committed both her time and personal funds to the launch of this project in South Africa during the Working with Wood Show.

The AWSA symposium will run throughout the Working with Wood Show. There are still a few seats available for this symposium, where woodturners will be taught numerous and various woodturning techniques.

Besides the many woodturning lectures, the Working with Wood team are offering three days of woodworking demonstrations and workshops at no charge.
Entry to the Working with Wood Show is R20 per adult and no charge for children under 12.


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