Woodcraft skills on display in Wendouree

PLASTIC may be fantastic, but there is still nothing so good as good old-fashioned wood.

Ballarat’s skilful woodworkers showed their craft was still very much alive at the Wendouree Netball Centre on the weekend.

There were 20 demonstrators at the Ballarat Wood and Craft Show, using a variety of tools and implements to create wooden masterpieces. Those craftsmen included turners, carvers, scroll saw users and furniture makers.

While most were members of the Ballarat Woodworkers Guild, some of them were in awe of Ken Wraight, renowned as one of Australia’s finest wood turners.

Guild member and show organiser Marilyn Freestone said interest in the traditional craft of woodworking is alive and well, with about 3000 people coming through the doors to see the show on Saturday and Sunday.

“Last year the numbers were even higher. I think this year we had a clash with the Australian and South Pacific Pipe Band Championships just around the corner,” Mrs Freestone said.

The Ballarat Woodworkers Guild has 80 members. They cover a diverse range of skills but all are devoted to one of humanity’s oldest crafting materials. Some fashioned relatively simple items from pine, others made intricate toy cathedrals.

And while there was no shortage of grey beards among the woodworkers at the show, there was some diversity among them as well.

“You just need to have an interest in woodwork,” Mrs Freestone said. “We have had members as young as 17 and there are five women among our membership. That wasn’t the case a few years ago.

“The guild’s primary role is to do things for the community, like making toys for charities or making toy kits for things like the Begonia Festival.”

There were also some potential woodworkers of the future at the show, with the children’s area proving particularly popular.

Caitlin Watson from Bendigo helped Fred Townsing build a doll’s cradle to take home with her. Fred got things going by fitting the wood together, but it was Caitlin who banged in the nails.