Problem Solved – Updated finishing studio for the next generation of wood crafters

17-acre campus in Rockport, Maine
17-acre campus for the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, Maine

Earlier this year, the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship began an initiative to dramatically expand their facility in order to provide greater scope and capability to their students. This initiative, now complete, saw a large improvement to the Center’s finishing studio, and GFS is proud to have played a role in equipping the newly expanded studio!

Their finishing studio at the time was already equipped with one GFS open face paint booth that they had been using for about 10 years. With the expanded studio space, they installed a second GFS open face paint booth to effectively double the amount of time students were able to gain experience with spray finishing of their work.

Example of the fine projects created by students at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship
Example of the fine projects created by students at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship

We are fortunate to have talked with Peter Korn, founder of the Center, about this project and wanted to share our discussion on the new finishing studio and the growth of the Center with you here on our blog!

Global Finishing Solutions (GFS): Hi Peter, can you give us a brief overview of the history of the Center and how things have changed for the students recently?

Peter Korn (PK): I founded the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship back in 1993 in order to meet the needs of contemporary woodworkers. I’ve been Executive Director ever since!

It actually began in the barn behind my house as a summer workshop program, and we quickly moved to our current 17-acre campus in Rockport in 1996. The Center hit a new level in 2001, when we launched a capital campaign, and those generous contributions from alumni, partner corporations and friends enabled us to double our student enrollment. 2012 saw the completion of a $3 million endowment campaign to sustainably improve faculty compensation, establish needs-based scholarships, and create a visiting artists program.

Example of the fine projects created by students at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship
Example of the fine projects created by students at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship

GFS: Very impressive growth! What kind of programs do you offer to your students?

PK: We currently offer five different hands-on educational programs that address the needs of a very broad audience. Everyone from beginners to experienced professionals. We cover the topics of furniture making, woodturning, carving, marquetry, finishing and related skills such as drawing and design.

On any given day throughout the year there are two, three or four courses running simultaneously on campus, plus Studio Fellows at work in the Jackson Building and a Messler Gallery exhibition. With anywhere from 30-54 students and fellows on campus, and 6-10 instructors, the Center offers woodworkers a uniquely rich creative environment.

GFS: How do spray finishing processes fit in to the overall scope of training that your students receive while studying at the Center?

PK: Finishing is a critical component of furniture making and a critical consideration in furniture design. Yet, prior to the construction of our new finishing facility, which opens next month, the Center’s instruction in spray finishing was necessarily limited to a two-week summer workshop taught by Teri Masaschi and a one-week session for students in the Center’s flagship professional-training course, the Nine-month Comprehensive.

GFS: When you obtained your original paint booth from GFS, how did that change or impact the finishes being produced at the Center?

The Center's original GFS paint booth in their finishing studio - prior to expansion
The Center’s original GFS paint booth in their finishing studio – prior to expansion

PK: Prior to the arrival of our original GFS booth, all finishes at the Center were hand-applied – oil/varnish mixtures, shellac, or varnish. Having a booth meant that we could offer instruction in the full range of finishes that a skilled furniture maker wants at his or her disposal, including water-based and solvent-based lacquers, catalyzed and non-catalyzed finishes, spray stains, and pigmented coatings.

This has been particularly important for our professional-track furniture making students, because spray finishing offers a unique combination of speed, quality, control of appearance and durability.

GFS: What is spurring the growth that is the reason for the Center’s expansion?

PK: The new Finishing Studio is one facet of a 1,420-square-foot addition to what was previously an 832-square-foot woodturning studio. Of that addition, 1,288 square feet is a new, fifty-percent-larger Turning Studio. The former turning studio has been expanded into a 964-square-foot Finishing Studio. There were two compelling reasons for the new construction:

  1. Our current spray booth had been sited between a dust collection system and a lumber storage rack. (This had been the only space available at the time we acquired it.) Not only was dust an issue, but every time we wanted to spray we had to shut down the adjacent machine room. This greatly limited the extent to which we could incorporate spray finishing into our curriculum.
  2. The cramped conditions in our woodturning studio limited the scope and duration of the turning courses we could offer.
Brand new finishing studio, with their original and new GFS paint booths installed
Brand new finishing studio, with their original and new GFS paint booths installed

GFS: With the expansion now complete, and both paint booths operational, how have the courses in the finishing studio at the center been impacted? Have new courses been added?

PK: With the new finishing facility operating with two GFS spray booths, it has impacted our courses in two significant ways.

  1. Students in our current finishing courses will have a better educational experience. With two booths operating at once, the amount of hands-on spray finishing experience per student will double.
  2. Students in our furniture making and turning courses will have spray finishing as a dependable option when it comes to completing their projects.
Student at work in the Center's newly expanded finishing studio
Student at work in the Center’s newly expanded finishing studio

In 2015 we will be able to add an exciting new course to our curriculum: a Twelve-week Intensive in professional finishing. We believe this that this training will be much needed, as there is nothing similar available at present to aspiring finishers.

GFS: Thanks very much for taking the time to chat with us!

PK: Thank you very much for everything you’ve helped us with. Both of our GFS paint booths are crucial pieces of equipment for our students.

GFS: Thanks Peter, we are very proud to be a part of the Center!

More Information on the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship:

To learn more, please visit our website.

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