Centre for Fine Woodworking director John Shaw has been a studio furniture-maker and fine woodworking tutor for 30 years.
Originally from Newcastle, England, John immigrated to New Zealand with his family when he was 10.
He was inspired to study furniture-making after reading A Cabinetmaker's Notebook by James Krenov.
John subsequently studied at the internationally-respected Rycotewood Furniture Centre near Oxford and later studied under James Krenov at the College of the Redwoods in California as a Fulbright scholar.
John's public works in Nelson include a lectern for the cathedral and outdoor seating at Nelson Airport and the Nelson Visitor Information Centre (both with Mike Hindmarsh).
He is married to Fiona (Fini) and they have two grown-up sons.
This week John dragged himself out of his studio for a chat with The Leader.
What does your job at the Centre for Fine Woodworking involve on a daily basis and what do you enjoy about it?
Building a learning environment, teaching, organising, discussion, planning, and imagining as well as checking the football results with fellow tutor Thorkild Hansen, and visualising Newcastle United actually winning something! I enjoy it all it's fun and it feels like we are going somewhere.
How did you end up having a career in wood?
It began early but became apparent in intermediate school that I was fascinated by making things. I tried lots of other things but the road kept leading back irresistibly to woodworking.
What is it about wood that you love so much?
It is tactile, it smells wonderful, it is a renewable resource it grows in front of our eyes! There are as many surprises as disappointments, there are endless variations.
It is a material that you have to work with and alongside heaven help you if you ignore its will! As a material it offers endless opportunity. Quite simply it is an inspirational material.
If you could only ever work with one kind of wood, what wood would it be?
At the moment it is pearwood because it suits the mood I'm in - it encapsulates everything that is wonderful about wood but in a wonderfully subtle way - but tomorrow it might be something else.
What is the most unusual thing you've ever made out of wood?
A tofu press.
What is the most unusual thing you've ever seen made out of wood?
My sons and I visited the torture museum in San Gimignano in Tuscany, Italy, and the place was full of nasty medieval objects made of wood - we all felt sick for the human race when we came out.
What is the longest time you have spent working on a single piece?
When I was at the College of the Redwoods I made a wall-hung desk which took four months, seven-days-a-week to make. In that environment every decision is reflected upon.
Is it ever hard saying "goodbye" to something you've made for a customer?
In general by the time a piece is finished it is time to move on - I'm looking forward to the next challenge, thinking about the next piece. There is always a sadness when pieces go but there is also often a sense of relief.
Given the craftsmanship of what you do, how do you feel about all the budget imported furniture you see in people's homes?
It is a reality but it annoys me that it is presented as something it isn't - advertising for it should have to say "purposefully designed to last no longer than five years" and "made from 95 per cent man-made materials with virtually no human input".
If there is one thing you would like people to think about when they buy furniture, what would it be?
What does this represent about you?
What do you say to people who baulk at the price of handmade furniture?
Come to the Centre for Fine Woodworking and learn how to make something!
You will encounter and appreciate all of the aspects of the designing and making process and understand the love, care, attention to detail and craftsmanship that has gone into making these pieces, experience the pleasure of making and begin to sense the enduring enjoyment of interacting with a piece of finely-made furniture.
I believe you would recognise fine furniture's intrinsic value and see that these are meaningful objects that are inter-generational.
If you were a piece of furniture, what would you be and why? I would be a dining table. Dining tables are a wonderful focus for conversation and discussion, which are a massive part of what happens here at the Centre for Fine Woodworking and in all our lives.
Given the size of the population and its geographical isolation, is Nelson really a good place to have a Centre for Fine Woodworking?
People are drawn quite naturally to Nelson. We have had no trouble convincing the 500 people who have been students at the Centre for Fine Woodworking to come on down - or up!
Nelson is the perfect environment. We have been established for five years and are now being seen as a model for a centres of focussed educational excellence and if I have a sense of a future vision for Nelson, it is that it develops as a national and international centre for a group of schools of crafting excellence in the areas of ceramics, jewellery, textiles, fashion, food, music etc, etc all of those skill-intensive creative arts where virtuosity is the ultimate aim.
We hear there is a busy year ahead for the centre. What are you looking forward to?
It sure is!
I'm looking forward to sharing in the excitement that people bring here, seeing people excel way beyond their expectations, working with the wonderful crew of people we have here and shaking Auckland's foundations with a mind-blowing show of fine woodworking from past and present students.
What's your favourite pudding?
Chocolate mousse made by Fi