‘Having quite a discerning eye, but very empty pockets’, woodworker Justine Bolzon created her first furniture pieces out of necessity, when she moved into her first rental home. Though they were small in scale, working on these pieces presented a challenge, as they required the large-scale machinery of the university workshop, where Justine was studying Interior Architecture at the time.
Discovering a box of old, chipped carving gouges one day provided the impetus for the curious creative to try her hand at wood working on a smaller scale. Justine soon taught herself a range of hand carving techniques, and created her very first cooking spoon (still in use today!). She has since developed a growing collection of striking, modernist-inspired hand carved spoon designs, under the name Border Co.
Justine graduated from her design-focussed degree the same year as the Global Financial Crisis, when work was scarce, encouraging the promising young creative to be pragmatic about her prospects. ‘I knew I wanted to be involved with designing and making, and decided to go back to uni to get my Masters in Education,’ she explains. ‘I focused on Design and Technology, and immediately felt at home in the workshop, finally bringing my ideas to life with tangible results.’
The now part-time teacher/part-time woodworker describes her early spoons as very utilitarian. However, after finding herself in creative slump last year, the maker pushed herself with a self-directed 30-spoons-in-30-days challenge. This more experimental approach completely revived Justine’s passion and creativity. ‘I’m focusing more on what pushes my skills in a new direction, and I think that’s been the best decision I’ve made with my work,’ she tells. ‘People have responded really well to this, and I’ve been able to have more integrity with my work.’
Over the past year, Justine has also been running workshops, and many of her participants have been women eager to try woodwork for the first time. ‘A few have gone on to pursue carving as a passion or small business… so that’s pretty cool to see!’ Justine beams. She’s also got plans to expand her workshops interstate, to interact with a wider community of carving enthusiasts – we’ll keep you posted!