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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently completed a short course at David Savage’s ‘Atelier’ and want to describe my experience for the benefit of anyone who might be looking to do something similar. Overall, I felt I learned quite a bit but this was tempered by the fact that I really did not warm to the man. I will explain why, but first, I would like to begin with the positives. On a good note, the tutors working for DS, Darren and Ed, are exceptional. Darren is one of the best teachers I’ve ever met. I felt lucky to have had the benefit of their input and wonder if DS realizes just how good they are. As far as DS himself goes, well, he's a good designer and furniture maker, but he’s not a teacher. Or at least he’s not a good teacher. I found him too caught up in his own aura (and money – so much talk about money!). Perhaps this is the marketing angle he has devised and which has reaped him the best financial rewards in the past? I don’t know. But it didn’t contribute to learning. Furthermore, for what I was paying, (750 pounds for 5 days), I didn’t like that every time I wanted feedback or needed to move forward I had to interrupt him at his computer. A teacher would be more attentive. By contrast, Darren and Ed circulated among the students and overall I found their feedback far more useful. As far as the facility goes, I wasn’t bothered by it, as one student was. But let me say that if I was signed up for a year, the single toilet probably would become an issue. The atmosphere in the ‘atelier’ was okay, nothing more. I thought I noticed a split between those renting workbench space and those on the year course. I didn’t really have a chance to get to know the other students because I was working separately and only there for a couple days. But in the conversations I did have nobody said they were unhappy. But then again nobody said they were particularly satisfied either. Overall, I’d say I achieved my goal of bettering my woodworking skills. Would I go back for seconds? Probably not.
 

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Just last week i completed the week long course with David Savage (the same as above.)

I would like to give readers a different outlook as above with regards to my own experience.

I turned up for the course late on Sunday evening having got lost in the Devon lanes but eventually found the workshop.. i was greeted by a student taking part in the year long course who was still in the workshop (this being ten oclock at night!) and this gave me a great first impression, being able to access the workshop 24 hours a day is a great feature on the course and as there seems to be little else to do in the surrounding area it seems students have no real choice but to work hard, this is a definite advantage in my opinion however i would certainly need to escape at weekends to avoid cabin fever!

I found the course very helpful and because of the near-on one to one tutoring you can very much tailor the week to what you would like to learn and what you are interested in and this was the first thing that David asked me.

The workshop is a very friendly & relaxed place to be and everyone breaks for tea and lunch together providing a good chance for conversation with other students.

Darren and Ed are certainly master craftsmen and you learn a lot from just watching them work, i would have liked to have some more time working with them but it seems that their time is allocated solely to the more permanent students - fair enough.

Although David does spend his day in his office (he is obviously a very busy man with his own furniture to deign, make and sell!) this DID NOT affect my experience in the slightest as whenever i asked for help he stopped whatever he was doing immediately and gave me all the help i needed, i really do feel that he puts you first as a student and knows that you are paying a lot to be there. I found him a good teacher and he obviously has a passion for quality and i learnt more than I ever have in a week!

The only thing that i feel could be improved is the directions on how to get there as i only had a post code and i ended up miles away, the place isn't signed at all which doesn't help although i understand that this might be security issue.

In conclusion then.. a great week that i would recommend to anyone, i hope to return for some more top-class woodworking!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Pleased you had a good experience!

And you are right: finding the place is a real challenge. I also could have done with a bit more help there...but didn't really factor that into my original comments.

Perhaps the difference in our tutoring experience is related to level. I was not going in as a basic woodworker (please forgive me for being presumptuous about your level) and required more than just feedback regarding flatness, squareness and how to hold a plane. I wanted more engagement on design, aesthetics and personal experiences. I was interested in the minutiae of producing quality, the little bridges from one point to another that together take one to a fine piece of work. I did not get that from DS. I got it from Darren and Ed. In fact, towards the end, I gave up interrupting DS at his computer and sought out Darren or Ed for their input. They were always willing to help.

Your comment about DS being a designer/maker and very busy is I feel missing the point a bit. Don't sell the course using your name if your teaching input is only squeezed in between sales pitches. I'm not saying I didn't get input. I'm saying for the what students pay, and how the course is marketed, it's not unreasonable to expect more. And tone down the constant money talk. Students on short courses are mostly hobbyists, amateurs, enthusiasts and not concerned with how to 'sell' and 'make a profit' from something they do out of love.

I'd also like to draw your attention to a blog i discovered after the course http://finefurnituremakers.wordpress.com/ This should provide readers with further perspective. Although, let me say this blog refers to the full year course, and not short courses.
 

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1st post ever is to rebutt a not-entirely positive post on a commercial enterprise. Things that make you go hmmm.....
 
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