Women's History Month Interview

When were you an apprentice?

January 2011 to December 2013.

What projects did you work on when you were here?

A Susan Skiff, two setups for a Nutshell Pram (molds, transom, keel, and garboards) - one in mahogany and one in cherry - a restoration of Monachunte, which is an Alden Indian, the restoration of Lyric, and a Grand Banks Dory for the Maine Islands and Birds folks. 

What was your shop experience like?

The shop was very full at the time. It felt competitive—there was a group of guys who were very good and very smart. I got good at pushing and advocating for myself. If you want to learn something, you can’t just wait for someone to tell you; you have to go out and get it. My experience as a woman was not one hundred percent awesome but my experience as a student was totally awesome. I’m happy to see the ratio of men to women is better at the shop.

Did you have any prior building experience before you attended the Shop? What first go you interested in coming here?

Yes, sculptural stuff in undergrad. I was working demo and construction in Baltimore. I was looking for something else to do. I was having a random conversation with a friend, a house carpenter. I said I wanted to build furniture but not go into house building. He mentioned a friend who was at the carpenter’s boat shop. That planted the seed. I wanted a longer program and did some research and found the A-shop. It was perfect.

What are your favorite aspects of working on boats?

I did a number of spar projects at Doug Hylan’s shop. I really enjoy that. The nice thing about being at a small shop is that there are two-and-a-half carpenters so we end up doing everything, basically, because of that.

Did making things change the way you think about yourself and your body?

I’ve always been a pretty physical person; I’m much better at creating something than explaining something. Sculpture and using my hands—that’s where I feel powerful. I rely on my physical self in a huge way. Because of that, I really love my physical self. We don’t get to do jobs that emphasize our physical selves as much anymore, especially as women. We’re supposed to be shapely, not lift 100 lbs and use tools. It removes you from being critical of your body because it’s necessary, not something that’s in the way.

If you could work on any kind of boatbuilding project, what would it be and why?

Restoration. I love the idea of bringing these old, glorious boats back to life. It’s its own kind of challenge since you’re restricted by the way it was built in the past. I went last fall to Norway and worked on a replica of a Viking ship. It was all axe work. I would love the opportunity to build a boat like that here.