FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I apply for the full time course if I have no furniture making experience?
Our course has been designed to accommodate students who have never made or designed a piece of furniture before. We start with the basics and then match the projects to the individual.
Quite often we will find that even those who think they have no experience, are able to utilise transferable skills from their past and then fill in the gaps!
We are also very happy to receive applications from slightly more experienced students as well. They often gain from going back to basics, as they may learn new techniques, break ‘bad habits’ or just reassurance themselves they are doing things right.
When can I join the course?
Subject to availability you can start anytime during the year.
Is your workshop devoted to training only or do you have 'commercial' work being made as well?
Student benches are located within our commercial workshop. As you can imagine this gives the students an invaluable insight into making furniture to commission.
Will you teach me how to make a living from designing and making furniture?
Yes! Williams and Cleal have been successfully running their furniture business for over 20 years. They are happy to share this knowledge, commercial contacts and experience with all their students. This includes anything from where to source timber, how to equip a workshop, right through to marketing and writing a business plan.
Does the training involve working on commercial pieces?
Students are encouraged to gain as much as they can from working alongside our skilled full time makers and although we do not specifically ask students to produce our commercial furniture, we are happy to share all aspects with them from the intial design/costing, making and right through to the finishing.
In the past students have also accompanied Justin and Andrew on site to learn all about 'fitted work'. These range of skills are almost never taught as part of a traditional furniture course, but as you can imagine may turn out to be extremely beneficial.
Will I design with pencil and sketch book or CAD (computer aided design)?
This question is frequently asked, and I pleased to say we do both and more! It is so important in this day in age to use the appropriate medium and to have a varied range of skills at your disposal.
All design work undertaken by Williams and Cleal starts with pencil sketching. You will therefore be encouraged to keep a sketch book. We feel it is one of the best ways to help you develop creativly.
We also teach you how to use a range of computer packages to draw up your designs in CAD. As you can imagine this can have numerous benefits. For example if you want to get involved with CNC machining or perhaps lazer cutting veneer CAD is essential. On a simple level it also enables you to document, amend and print out your designs far easier than by hand.
What happens if I can't draw?
As well as Jane Cleal practising artist Caron Colwell (who has also taught for over 20 years) is on hand to give you support and practical guidance to help in this area. The sessions will not only cover how to draw, but you will also be encouraged to explore and develop your own design identity, improve your ability to 'see', critique your work and the work of others and also produce presentation drawings for yourself and potential clients.
In the workshop will I have 'set' projects and when will I be able to make my own designs?
In order for us to make sure that all the essential hand, tool and machining skills are covered we ask students to produce three set pieces. These can always be negotiated, subject to previous experiences and a clear understanding of which processes are important to you.
As an illustration in the gallery you can see examples of the set projects a puzzle, a box and a small table with a drawer.
After these depending on the size and complexity we anticipate you should be able to complete a further three medium sized pieces to your own design/brief.
Will we go on visits?
We like to go on a range of visits, closely matched to student needs. They include:
Timber and veneer merchants.
Customer and site visits.
Saw mills, metal workers, and allied trades.
Small, medium and large scale furniture businesses.
Exhibitions and shows e.g. craft, interiors, art, bespoke etc.
Museums and Gallaries.
How many students do you have at any one time?
I am very pleased to say that we restrict student numbers. We operate with around 5 to 8 students. As you can imagine this gives you a really good student to tutor ratio, and we are able to work very closely to match individual needs.
What is the age range of the students?
We can accommodate anyone 18 years and over.
What type of backgrounds do you students have?
In recent years we have taught students from all over the world, and in this regard you could call us an international school. We have also taught school leavers looking for work, mature students pursuing a career change, those wishing to set up in business and mature and retired students pursuing their own personal development.
Do past students stay in touch?
We actively encourage students to stay in touch, to share experiences, ask questions, gain valuable advice and support, often in relation to starting up a new business, looking for work, or to discuss a furniture project. We also like to tell everyone what has been happening at Williams and Cleal. You are also encouraged to come back and visit us in the workshop and it has been known for us to visit you as well.
What have past students done after leaving Williams and Cleal?
Take a look at our student profile page to give you a full picture of the types of things students have gone on to do.
How are the fees paid?
In order to secure your place there is a non-refundable deposit of £2,325. On the first day of the course we will then require a further £7,650. The balance of £5,625 is due in the first day of the 21st week.
Where will I live?
There are a number of properties for rent in nearby villages or in Taunton. Typically this can cost around £300 per month, plus food and utility bills. Sue is on hand to help organise your accommodation if you wish.
How will I get to the workshop?
Most of our students opt to come by car. We are situated approximately 3 miles away from our nearest village. We also have students who cycle into the workshop.
What sort of things can I do in my spare time?
There is lots to do in the local area. Not only are we close to the thriving town of Taunton, but we are also located at the foot of the quantock hills.