We would like to introduce you to our team! We continue our series with Nathan Peach who joined the workshop in September 2015, having previously been a self-taught furniture maker.
What did you do before you started as an apprentice at the Barnsley Workshop?
I worked for 16 years at a Christian charity called the Abernethy Trust, an outdoor centre in the Highlands of Scotland. It was an incredible place that gave me some fantastic opportunities. Whilst there I worked as an Outdoor Instructor, Tree Surgeon, Maintenance Manager and latterly as the Ministries Manager in a part-time role. It was alongside this that I set up a small workshop and began making furniture.
What attracted you to the Barnsley Workshop apprenticeship?
I have a real passion for people development. I would love to help others discover, develop and hone skills in traditional craftsmanship. But having only taught myself, I knew the first step was to gain some top class training. I read that the Barnsley Workshop was ‘The pinnacle of training in the UK’ and if that wasn’t enough to get my attention, they also have Bursary support.
How did you feel when you first started your training?
A little out of place and out of my depth! This was a completely new environment for me, and I had no real ideas of what to expect. I remember seeing the furniture being produced and feeling blown away at the exceptional quality of it all. But mixed in there were feelings of excitement and anticipation – this was the beginning of my journey of learning.
Looking back what was for you the most significant lesson?
Having worked for myself I know it can be all too easy to let small mistakes slide – but inevitably those mistakes can progressively interfere with an entire project. One very important lesson for me has been to know when to just stop and start again. All too often it is far quicker and better to remake a component correctly than let a mistake dictate a piece.
What have been the highlights of your time at the workshop?
To be able to make furniture for people who understand and appreciate quality craftsmanship is a continued highlight. Knowing that today’s piece will be a treasured heirloom tomorrow. I’ll not forget the first commissioned piece I made and the pride of being considered good enough to make it. But overarching it all has to be the team. They are such a decent bunch of people, all incredibly talented and inspiring to work alongside.
What has been your most challenging project?
I think this changes with each new project I’m given! This is a great testimony to the well thought out training delivered at the workshop. But I think the steepest learning curve for me to date was making the Grosvenor Drinks cabinet. There were so many parts to that project that were new and challenging for me. It was incredibly rewarding to see the finished piece in its new home recently.
If you could choose to make anything, what would be your dream project?
There is a piece in our showroom called the Jubilee Cabinet which was made in 1977. It has it all in my opinion. Beautifully fitted dovetailed drawers, cleverly designed curved doors, intricate detailing with inlay, handle details, through mortice and tennons, the list goes on. They’re all exceptionally crafted! A project like that would be the dream!