We would like to introduce you to our team! We continue our series with Stephen Rock. Stephen started as an apprentice in the workshop in 1988 and now work with us as our Craftsman-Tutor and Fundraiser.
What did you do before you started as an apprentice at the Barnsley Workshop?
I trained at the London College of Furniture, while working part time in a furniture-making workshop in East London.
What attracted you to the Barnsley Workshop apprenticeship?
I first visited the workshop in 1987, while I was at college. I thought the level of skill that went into making Barnsley furniture was extraordinary. I wanted to be able to work to that standard myself. I was interested in the heritage of the workshop, its connection with Edward’s father Sidney, and with Alan Peters.
How did you feel when you first started your training?
I felt a bit out of my depth. It was a steep learning curve! There was so much that was new to me. But I was very excited to be in the workshop and felt privileged to be training there.
Looking back what was for you the most significant lesson?
Learning how to get my tools really sharp and learning to check the work carefully.
What have been the highlights of your time at the workshop?
I was very pleased when I completed my apprenticeship and was able to stay on in the workshop. I feel lucky to work in such a wonderful workshop. These days I really enjoy seeing the apprentices develop into skilled, confident furniture-makers. It can be a really impressive transformation.
What has been your most challenging project?
During my apprenticeship, I found making a pair of large wardrobes in sapele very tough. At the time, they were by far the largest piece I had worked on. Nothing seemed to go right and it took far too long. It was a great relief to finish them.
If you could choose to make anything, what would be your dream project?
That’s a hard one to answer. These days I don’t spend much time at the bench, but right now, if I could drop everything else, I’d like to make a large cabinet in English walnut with ‘feather’ panels.