Woodworking in America: Angela Hollis
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We are interviewing producers from all 50 states. Today we introduce Angela Hollis, an Alabama carpenter.
How did you start the woodworking? Who were your mentors?
My biggest influence in becoming a creator and builder was my grandfather who has taught me since I was 5 that it didn’t matter that I was a girl, I should have been able to manage my business. For him, “business” means taking care of things alone. If something broke, we fixed it. If there was something that needed to be built, we built it! He was a house builder and I was by his side, taking tools and learning the measure and cutting as long as I can remember. I started to redesign the furniture and construction of myself and friends as an amateur interior designer and this led to a passion for carpentry and a desire to build a business and a life for myself in carpentry. I receive tons of inspiration and help from the online joinery community and local craftsmen whom I am fortunate enough to know.
What do you think is your best or favorite job? What kind of work do you do most?
My favorite thing to build is a window seat. For me, the seats near the window mean connection. As I am building window seats in a client’s house, I think of the conversations and “life” that will happen there. Whether it’s the window of a girl’s bedroom or the family kitchen, there will be laughter, tears, homework, cups of tea and LIFE shared on that simple structure that I leave to them. I build many, many places near the window and personalized wall units with shelves for family treasures, books and storage. Another popular build for me is the “mudroom locker” or cubby systems that transform a normal hallway or warehouse into a functioning release area and command center for the family. It’s amazing what we can squeeze into 18 inches of space!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start carpentry or pursue it as a profession?
The most important tip I think every beginner carpenter should listen to is to get things done at your own pace. Start where you are, with what you have. You won’t be “Instagram Perfect” the first week, maybe not the first year. But try to learn a new skill and buy a new tool every month. If you don’t know how, ask! Google and YouTube are your friends. I read a note somewhere when I first started saying, “Make the next job you accept be one for which you don’t have the tool or don’t know how.” I LOVE this, and I live by it. This is what makes me learn and grow. If I only did what I feel comfortable doing, I would never be able to grow my business.
What is your practical advice or the best woodworking technique?
My residential carpentry instructor in the technical school course I followed when I started to load money for my work said to our class: “You will be a good carpenter, but he is learning to correct your mistakes that will make you a great carpenter. “. Taking the time to go over the work and really get to know the wood before you even start will save time and heartache when things don’t go well with a project. Plan, plan, plan! It doesn’t matter if nobody else is able to decipher your designs, take the time to make them anyway. See what it will really take to put the project together and work through it one step at a time. Check your lumber by square, smooth rough spots, align and plan your boards / sheets before gluing. Take your time and maybe you won’t have to separate as much furniture as I did when I started!
Is there anyone you would like to scream or recommend to follow? Who inspires you? (It doesn’t even have to be tied to carpentry.)
This is difficult, because SO MUCH of my inspiration and daily knowledge comes from the online carpentry community. Two people I try to check in with every week (every day if I can) are @woodenmaven (Char) and @overkillwoodcraft (Matt). I tell EVERY woman who hurries to start reading Girl, Wash your face and Girl, Stop apologizing to Rachel Hollis (no relationship). He also has a fantastic presence on Instagram. I also recommend following #womenwhobuild on Instagram.
See more of Angela’s works on her website, Facebook or on Instagram @grlbuilder
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