After graduating last year with a degree in furniture design from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Teresa Audet is now launching her own career as a woodworker. She recently completed her first commissioned project, a walnut and maple crib with mahogany inlay.
Designed by the client, the crib “just got delivered this weekend,” Teresa said. She also noted that she learned a lot, including inlay, which she had never done before, with the highly technical project. “I’ve been working on it for about six months. They just had the baby, so it [delivery] is perfect timing.” The crib also helped Teresa learn about aspects of a woodworking business: “I definitely learned a lot,” she said: “how hard it is to price yourself out, how long it took.”
Teresa has also had other learning experiences as a woodworker, including participation in an Anderson Ranch Arts Center workshop on relics, cabinets and boxes as a Furniture Society-Powermatic® Scholarship winner. Already a member of the Furniture Society after hearing about it at school — she did an assistantship at their 2010 conference held at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) — Teresa learned about the scholarship opportunity from her teacher. “You had to submit between five and 10 photos of your work and write an essay about why you wanted to do this, why it would help your career, and why it would help you give back to the Furniture Society.”
Winning the scholarship and attending the workshop, she said, was “really great! It was right after I graduated from school, and it helped me keep making things after I graduated.”
Teresa’s original choice of an art school was for a career goal other than woodworker: “I went to MCAD thinking I was going to be a painter.” It didn’t take long, however, for her to find her calling. Despite having taken all the art classes she could in high school, including pottery, when she got to college, “I took a couple of painting classes, but didn’t like it as much as I thought. Then I took furniture classes, and loved it. It’s kind of a different way of making things: that functionality could be artistic, too.”
Currently, in addition to doing her own work, she’s continuing to increase her woodworking skills through apprenticing with woodcarver Cecelia Schiller. And she enjoys experimenting with different materials along with wood, most recently kozo, or Japanese paper.
“I took a couple of classes on how to make Japanese paper, and I’m currently trying to build a papermaking press in my basement,” Teresa said. “I like putting it in lamp shades and other little furniture pieces” — such as her “Kurumi-Kozo” wall shelf piece.
“I’m definitely heavily influenced by Japanese design,” Teresa said. “It’s just the clean lines, and simplicity.”
Overall, as a woodworker, “I like to use more hand things and traditional techniques when I can — but I’m not one of those people who are anti-machine or anything.”
She is, however, a woodworker who likes to — and plans to — keep learning.