The Alden Artisan Advancement
Throughout my years as a professional woodworker and my involvement with the NH Furniture Masters Association, I felt compelled to devise a scholarship to help young emerging makers break out into the field and turn their passion into a profession. This Advancement awarded $1000.00 to a maker to build a creative piece with the Aid of the Masters while learning technical and business strategies. Once their piece is finished and juried, the recipient will showcase it through the sales and marketing campaigns of the Furniture Masters which includes professional photography, publication, and event participation.
Past Grant Recipients
When Jamie Herman sent in his application for the 2019 Alden Artisan Advancement award, he wasn’t expecting to win. The award is given yearly by the New Hampshire Furniture Masters in conjunction with its nonprofit, the American Furniture Masters Institute.
“I figured that the application process was a great design challenge,” the Vermont furniture maker said. “I wanted to design something somewhat unexpected, something that maybe the masters hadn’t seen before.”
“I thought that no matter what happened, the fact that I could get my work in front of the eyes of some of the best craftspeople in my field was worth it.”
Turns out, Jamie’s proposed design for a five-legged walnut side table not only earned him the award, but also the admiration of the jury. He’ll get a $1,000 scholarship to put toward the development and promotion of his piece.
Dean Babin has traveled far since his days in digital media at Nickelodeon. And it wasn’t just the physical distance from Times Square to Rockland, Maine. It was his journey from working for a living to living his dream.
“I realized that woodworking was going to be my career when my job in digital media was getting in the way of the furniture I was making,” Babin says. “I was carving out as much time as possible outside of my day job to work on furniture, but it wasn’t enough for the level of craft I was pursuing.”
So Babin left the city and enrolled in the full-time furniture making program at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, Maine. “It appealed to me because of its reputation for allowing students to pursue their own designs.” He graduated in June of 2017, and just a few short months later, has been named the 2017 recipient of the Alden Artisan Advancement Award, a grant for aspiring professional furniture makers.
Not too long ago, professional furniture maker and carver Greg Brown was pondering an age-old woodworking question: Why is it so hard for aspiring furniture makers to make a go of it?
“My own frustrations with just simply emerging in this field and seeing the dismal job opportunities for students graduating from trade and art schools gave me the idea to pay it forward,” Brown said. As a member of the New Hampshire Furniture Masters who was grateful for the opportunities the organization had placed before him, Brown started thinking about what he could do to help share some of the group’s considerable expertise with an emerging maker.
Meanwhile, on the West Coast, Marine Corps veteran and mixed martial arts fighter Grant Burger was busy competing in the Full Contact Fighting Federation in Portland, Ore., and thinking about a different, possibly less dangerous, way he could use his hands to make a living.
Due to the pandemic this Advancement has been unavailable until further notice. However, I wish to showcase the last 3 recipients and their body of work.