American Sycamore Woodworker's Retreat
Woodworker's Retreat (ASWR) truly reflects its name
by embodying a great place for woodworkers to withdraw from
the pressures and stress of life to simply focus on creating
with wood. While attending the Pencil Post Bed Workshop last
May, Dana Van Pelt (co-owner of ASWR with her husband Mike)
and I built our own traditional Shaker style beds. The relaxed
environment and beautiful surroundings ASWR contribute to an
experience most women woodworkers will appreciate.
opening the ASWR website, I found all the information I desired
in an easy-to-navigate format. With such a great array of well-priced
classes, including many women-only and family courses, it was
a tough decision of which class to take. Everything else fit into
place effortlessly, as I registered for the Pencil Post Bed class
and made my way to Indiana. Dana picked me up at the airport and
we had great conversation during the hour drive to Cloverdale,
IN, picturesque home of ASWR.
building feels very comfortable, with handmade furniture and
artwork everywhere. A typical day begins as I wake up in my
spacious bedroom, with a private bathroom, and walk downstairs
to have breakfast and my morning cocoa, then right into the
shop. Greeted by the friendly smiles of ASWR staff, we discuss
our plans for the day. All morning, Dana and I work hard in
the top-of-the-line shop and break for lunch provided by ASWR.
After lunch, we might take a quick nap, or maybe we jump right
back into our projects. We work enthusiastically into the night,
when we remember we forgot to eat dinner. We eat, we chat, we
continue woodworking, and we hang out for a while. Now I am
very tired from a long, fun day of making a bed; I need to go
climb in one.
American Sycamore, I learned how great it feels to push myself
and work especially hard at a project. I found I get great satisfaction
from using hand tools such as hand planes and scrapers: I can
feel the wood underneath the blade as I push the plane with
the grain, and I seriously increase my upper body strength.
I learned shop tricks with bench dogs. I even found out what
a Hoosier is.
Sycamore Woodworker's Retreat is a fantastic experience.
Both Dana's presence, and the non-competitive atmosphere,
reinforced my confidence as a woman in woodworking. I feel like
an old friend of everyone I met there and the hospitality is outstanding.
This place is a great deal: quality tools and education, plus
lunch and supplies, are included in the class. I really want to
go back to American Sycamore. If I am lucky, I might be able to
attend the Women's Winter Retreat.